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New Mexico Just Went 'Bold' on College

With legislative approval, tuition will be free at all state schools for everyone, regardless of income
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2019 9:25 AM CDT
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/mangpor_2004)

(Newser) – A good number of US states are already on board with offering free tuition at state schools to students who financially qualify, but one state just put forward what Slate calls a "bold plan" that surpasses the others. The New York Times reports that New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will announce Wednesday an initiative to let all students attend public colleges and universities in her state for free, no matter what their family's income level is. The plan, which still needs the green light from New Mexico's legislature, would ostensibly be paid for by rising revenues brought in by oil production in the state. "This program is an absolute game-changer for New Mexico," the governor said in a statement. The plan will cost between $25 million and $35 million per year for the 55,000 students it's expected to benefit, per a rep from the state's Higher Education Department.

Free tuition would be available to new high school grads (or those who've finished a high school equivalency program), as long as they keep their college GPA at 2.5 or higher. Also notable: The program is open to students regardless of their immigration status. The Times notes some issues that have cropped up in other states with similar programs, such as students getting free tuition but not money to pay for living expenses, books, and child care, which may lead to eventual dropouts. Still, the news is being welcomed in many circles. "It used to be that a high school degree could allow a young adult to enter into the middle class," an NYU cultural anthropologist tells the Times. "We are no longer in that situation. We don't ask people to pay for fifth grade and we also should not ask people to pay for sophomore year." (Cornell made a huge move on med school tuition.)

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