State Looking To Increase College Admission With More Scholarships

A state just passed a law granting more money to scholarships as a means to keep students in state for higher ed.

By Rick Gonzales | Published

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Hoping to bring more students to college campuses across her state, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham gave a big boost to the Opportunity Scholarship by signing into law an additional $75 million in funding. SB 140, also known as the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship Act, will now provide tuition-free college to tens of thousands of New Mexicans who are looking to pursue a college degree. Now, they don’t have to go far for that opportunity.

The bill was passed in mid-February by state House legislators and was immediately applauded by Gov. Grisham. “This administration believes in supporting students from cradle to career, and the Opportunity Scholarship provides the resources for every New Mexican who wants to further their education. Not only does this program provide opportunities to build brighter futures, it also helps our state build capacity in high-need fields like teaching, medicine, and the trades. This fall, up to 35,000 New Mexicans will go to college for free – that’s a gamechanger for families, communities, and businesses around the state,” Grisham said at the time in a press release.

The bill then moved to Grisham’s desk for her signature, which she gladly provided. “Every New Mexican deserves the opportunity to pursue education or career training leading to a brighter future,” said New Mexico’s High Education Secretary Stephanie Rodriguez. “With the passage of the Opportunity Scholarship Act, we have made history by ensuring New Mexicans have the option to access tuition-free college, whether they are a returning adult learner, a working parent, someone who lost the Lottery Scholarship, or anyone in between.”


Gaining more funding had been a major priority for Gov. Grisham and now it is a permanent reality. The New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship Act has been in place for a couple of years having awarded over 10,000 scholarships during that timeframe. But limited funding along with restrictive eligibility language has kept the numbers low.

The new bill clears up any eligibility language and expands the options for New Mexicans. Now, any New Mexican wishing to go the higher education route has a chance. They can pursue career training certificates, associate degrees, and even a bachelor’s degree. With the new language, the bill is the very first state scholarship program that gives credence to those pursuing career training certificates.

In order to qualify for an Opportunity Scholarship, a student must first be a New Mexico resident. You then must be enrolled in at least six credit hours at a state public college or university. The student has to maintain a 2.5-grade point average and as mentioned, must be working toward a training certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree.

This is big for New Mexico and those wishing to pursue their careers. As most college students are aware, college is not a cheap proposition. Not only do you have tuition and fees, but you also have your living expense to take care of. “Finances tend to be the number one item for students across the country,” explained Brian Malone, University of New Mexico’s Student Financial Aid Office Director, to KOB4 News. “Because it’s also not just going to school, it’s also still having a roof over your head, having food, things like that. You have to have your general living expenses still exist, and a lot of times you aren’t able to work or work fewer hours.”


What makes this bill’s passage even more important is that it creates what’s called a non-reverting fund. This means that the funds will not go back to their original numbers. Instead, the bill is set up to grow in the future, helping potential students every step of the way. With the bill pumping $75 million into the Opportunity Scholarship fund, in total it could support up to 35,000 students, which is a far cry from the past couple of years.

Along with Gov. Grisham’s support for the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship Act, it received approval from thousands of New Mexicans as well as nonprofit organizations, 30 Tribal governments, and community groups that included the New Mexico Voices for Children, the Indigenous Youth Council, the Hispano Chamber of Commerce, and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. In this day and age of massive inflation and limited opportunities, it is nice to see a state move forward with a bill such as this. It gives hope for the future of thousands who may not have had it. Hopefully, a few more states will catch on to what New Mexico has done and follow closely in their footsteps.