ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KOAT/Hearst/CNN) - Students could soon have a free ride to a state college if Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s plan is approved.
The governor wants to provide free college for every New Mexican who graduates high school and any adult who returns to school at a community college.
In order for it to happen, she is going to need the legislature to approve as much as $35 million in funding when it meets again in January.
A few experts in education said the only other state that has a program similar to what the governor wants to do in New Mexico is New York, but if this passes, this would be the most inclusive program of free education in the country.
At least 17 other states and more than 350 localities across 44 states have enacted at least partially free college policies.
“So you’ve got investments going on in early education and in teachers and in faculty in colleges. It can really add to the success of the program because it’s about improving the pipeline to education all along the way,” said Julie Margetta Morgan, a fellow with the Roosevelt Institute.
The program, called New Mexico Opportunity, would supplement the tuition gap that’s left unpaid by federal grants and the state’s lottery scholarship. On average, New Mexico students have to pay between 25 and 40 percent of their tuition.
Tuition to state institutions range from $762 to $3,500 a semester. The program would affect about 55,000 students a year.
Students said they were thrilled.
“I am already in debt as it is so being out of debt would be one of the best things ever,” Bobbi Morris said. “Here in New Mexico, there are a lot of people, our minorities don’t get to go to school, so i think it should definitely be considered and hopefully passed.”