SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico is making history once again, all New Mexicans can go to college for free. Lawmakers approved $75-Million for the Opportunity Scholarship.

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“New Mexico made history back in 1996, by being the first state in the nation to tell college students that they could go to college tuition-free,” said Stephanie Rodriguez, the Cabinet Secretary for the State’s Higher Education Department. Now the state is taking that one step further.

“We’re making history again,” said Rodriguez. “We’ve established the Opportunity Scholarship Act which is the most encompassing national tuition-free college program in our country.”

Starting in the fall the Opportunity Scholarship will allow all New Mexicans to earn a credit baring certificate, associate, or a Bachelor’s degree, tuition-free. All you have to do is earn a 2.5 GPA. This will apply on top of the State’s existing Lottery Scholarship, which only applied under certain circumstances.

The Lottery Scholarship is specifically aimed at recent high school graduates, or honorably discharged veterans. The Opportunity Scholarship is for any New Mexican regardless of age as long as you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Anyone receiving the Lottery Scholarship must be enrolled full time, but to qualify for the new opportunity scholarship, you only have to take six credit hours a semester.

“This is an opportunity for people to get that leg up,” Rodriguez said. “They can go back to school, but do it in a way that is manageable for their families, and once they’re done, enter family-sustaining careers, with high wages,” Rodriguez explained.

The Higher Education Department says people who have previously enrolled in a college program but did not complete their degree, can qualify for the Opportunity Scholarship as long as they have not yet completed more than 90 credit hours. You have to live in New Mexico for at least a year before you’re eligible.