Governor Signs Bills Benefiting Students, Higher Education

STATE News:

SANTA FE — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed several budget and policy measures that will benefit higher education students, support workforce development, and fund key initiatives at public and Tribal colleges and universities across New Mexico.  

A top administrative priority, the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship will receive $18 million to support part-time and non-traditional students as well as recent high school graduates in pursuing certificate, associate, and bachelor’s degrees at public and Tribal colleges and universities in New Mexico. The scholarship was originally established in 2020, but was limited to students attending full-time and pursuing two-year degrees.  

“Even before the pandemic, we knew that improving access to college and career training was one of the best ways to ensure positive transformation in our communities and economic growth for New Mexico,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “I am grateful for the notable public support received for the Opportunity Scholarship, and the chance to ensure that more New Mexicans from all pathways can pursue college and careers right here at home.”  

The New Mexico Lottery Scholarship will also receive $15.5 million in state funding to support recent high school graduates attending college full time.  

A total of $866.8 million will go directly to higher education, with $821.4 million appropriated to higher education institutions, an increase of $6.1 million. An estimated $160 million in federal stimulus funds is also anticipated to go directly toward public and Tribal colleges and universities in the state, half of which must go directly to students. Additionally, $40.4 million in state funds will go to the New Mexico Higher Education Department.  

“Higher education is key to reinvigorating New Mexico’s economy and the success of students and their families,” Higher Education Secretary Stephanie Rodriguez said. “Thanks to the hard work of our agency, our partners, and Gov. Lujan Grisham in addition to the support of legislators, we have been able to achieve many positive gains that will support student success and the growth of our state for years to come.”   

 Scholarship Programs and Financial Aid

  • $15 million will go to the College Affordability Endowment to support students with financial need who do not qualify for other state grants and scholarships in pursuing degrees. Students enrolled at least part-time can receive a maximum of $1,500 per semester. 
  • The Grow Your Own Teachers Scholarship will receive $500,000 to increase the number of educational assistants pursuing paths to teacher licensure. House Bill 22 also amends the Grow Your Own Teachers Act to include eligibility for all school employees in teaching assistant positions, and ensuring that professional leave is available to anyone in these positions pursuing bachelor’s degrees in education. 
  • Senate Bill 234 expands eligibility and access for the Lottery Scholarship to students completing high school at an approved home school without taking a high school equivalency credential (HSE) exam.  

Student Services

  • $1 million will go to the New Mexico Higher Education Department to support the development and enhancement of mental and behavioral health services for college students at public and Tribal colleges and universities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three out of four Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 report poor mental health tied to the pandemic. 
  • $100,000 will go to the New Mexico Higher Education Department toward alleviating student hunger on college campuses. Food insecurity can impact academic success and student health and wellbeing. Food insecurity is associated with lower grades and a greater likelihood of students withdrawing or otherwise deferring or suspending their studies. 

Student Equity

  • House Bill 43, the Black Education Act, calls for collaboration between the New Mexico Higher Education Department and the New Mexico Public Education Department to improve graduation rates, college and career readiness, and higher education completion of Black students. The Black Education Act also seeks to increase recruitment and retention of Black educators and improve teacher preparation programs by including curricula demonstrating cultural awareness and promoting anti-racism.   

Adult Education and Literacy

  • New Mexico’s adult education programs will receive $6.5 million to provide adults with education services, materials, and access to high school equivalency tests. 
  • $680,400 will go toward programs to increase adult literacy across New Mexico.  

Student Success

  • $401,000 will go to the New Mexico Higher Education Department for development of a longitudinal data system that will combine information from sister education agencies and workforce data to identify areas of improvement for education policy and funding and improve student outcomes.  
  • $3.1 million will fund a shared services collaborative among five public colleges that aims to eliminate the need for multiple admission applications and registration, reduce duplication of records, and simplify student transfer between institutions.  
  • Senate Bill 77 authorizes six public colleges and universities to enter into a pilot project to explore improving student transitions from community colleges to four year universities, with the aim of informing best practices statewide.  

Workforce Development and Cradle to Career Education

  • $7 million to created endowed early childhood education positions at New Mexico public and Tribal colleges and universities.
  • $5 million will go to the Higher Education Endowment Fund to support projects furthering key state priorities.

Campus Improvements and Infrastructure

  • $53.9 million has been approved to fund critical infrastructure upgrades at New Mexico public and Tribal colleges and universities and special schools statewide.  This funding will address critical health and safety issues, provide for ADA and code compliance upgrades, and much needed facility renovations and modernization at our college and university campuses. 
  • Senate Bill 223 authorizes an additional $22 million in cigarette tax revenue bonds for the purpose of completing Phase III of the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center Radiation Oncology and GMP Laboratory Expansion Project.
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