free college?
September 18, 2019

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) is expected to announce a radical new plan Wednesday that would make tuition at public universities and colleges free for all state residents, The New York Times reports.

The proposal, which will require legislative approval, would apply to all 29 of the state's two- and four-year higher education institutions. Family income wouldn't be a factor, and the proposal also includes funds for adults looking to return to school at community colleges. Similarly, there would be no restrictions regarding a student's immigration status. It's projected to benefit around 55,000 students per year and cost somewhere between $25 million and $35 million annually, Carmen Lopez-Wilson, the deputy secretary of New Mexico's Higher Education Department, told the Times.

"This program is an absolute game changer for New Mexico," Lujan Grisham said in a statement. "In the long run, we'll see improved economic growth, improved outcomes for New Mexican workers and families and parents."

The plan, however, will strictly cover tuition, not living expenses, and funds would be available only after students draw from existing state aid programs and federal grants, the Times reports. Lujan Grishman's office is also not anticipating any easy path to the proposal's passage — even though the both New Mexico chambers are controlled by Democrats, fiscal conservatives throughout the state reportedly still have a hefty amount of bargaining power. "This will take some high-quality politicking from the governor and others to make it happen," said Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for the Democratic governor.

But the Times reports that state legislators have recently shown a willingness to increase spending on public education. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

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