NM lawmakers seek to expand Opportunity Scholarship eligibility

Education

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A couple of Democratic state lawmakers are wanting to open up the governor’s Opportunity Scholarship to more New Mexican students. As it stands, the Opportunity Scholarship only helps students pursuing a two-year degree. So now, lawmakers are trying to make sure other types of students are eligible.

“These amendments to the opportunity scholarship really address some of the impact of COVID as well as realistic changes that recognize the role of working adults,” said Democratic Lawmaker Representative Joy Garratt.

Democratic lawmakers Rep. Garratt and Senator Bill O’Neill are hoping to bump up the fund from $5 million to $22 million and open eligibility to students who missed out on the Lottery Scholarship. Four-year students who left could also be eligible. As well as students taking just two courses a semester.

One of the sponsors says many students don’t finish their degrees because life happens and with the complications of COVID-19, many students needed to pick up jobs or extra shifts. “I like the practicality of really targeting adults who are now either pursuing a career change or maybe something they couldn’t do because of family responsibilities,” said Rep. Garratt.

The bill also calls for an extra $4 million for the Lottery Scholarship program. This is one of those bills the governor is backing. Last year, legislators trimmed down the Opportunity Scholarship due to budget concerns with COVID-19. The bill was supposed to be heard in the Senate Education Committee Friday morning but it got moved to Monday.

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