Governor’s free college plan faces backlash | KOB 4

Governor’s free college plan faces backlash

Patrick Hayes
September 25, 2019 09:09 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s  plan to cover 100% of college tuition for in-state residents is facing backlash.

The governor said her plan, if approved, would cost the state an extra $25-$35 million a year, but officials with the Rio Grande Foundation said that number is too low.

“That is going to cost the taxpayers of New Mexico–it’s going to cost real money,” said President of the Rio Grande Foundation Paul Gessing.

Gessing said he believes free college could end up costing more than $100 million a year.

"Because I think they have at some point made some calculations—they had to do some back of the envelope data analysis to figure out what we could actually afford in the state of New Mexico. Again, $25 to $35 million just seems really low ball to me," Gessing said.

A spokesperson with the governor’s office, however, said that estimate is accurate.

“The Higher Education Department has spent countless hours crunching the numbers and are very confident in their cost estimate,” they said.

KOB 4 spoke with students who said they think the plan is a good thing.

“Yeah, I do have student loans that I’m still paying off to this day,” a student told KOB 4. “I graduated in 2011. Yeah, it’s a burden.”

An article published by Forbes said the governor’s proposal could hurt low income families because it only covers the cost that federal grants do not cover. In other words, middle to high income students that do not qualify for federal aid such as the Pell Grant would receive more tuition money from Gov. Grisham’s Opportunity Scholarship.

Officials from the governor's office said the article does not take the Lottery Scholarship into consideration.

The plan still needs approval from the state Legislature. 


Patrick Hayes

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