After changes, chances of ‘Opportunity Scholarship’ passage increase

The outlook for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s tuition-free college scholarship, one of her signature initiatives for the legislative session, had started to seem dubious. A budget bill the House passed last week for fiscal year 2021 included $35 million for financial aid programs — but no funding for the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship that Lujan Grisham had announced with fanfare in the fall. The effort would boost  enrollment and graduation numbers at state colleges and universities, she said, and strengthen the state’s workforce. But legislators had raised concerns that her proposal didn’t do enough to direct funding toward the lowest-income students. The Governor’s Office and lawmakers collaborated on an overhaul to address those concerns, and the House Education Committee renewed hope Monday that her plan to ultimately provide free tuition could become a reality for some 55,000 eligible New Mexico students each year who attend in-state schools.