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New Mexico governor approves $1.3 billion budget for higher education initiatives

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(The Center Square) – New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham recently approved a $1.3 billion higher education budget for Fiscal Year 2025.

The allocation represents a nearly 4% increase in spending compared to the current Fiscal Year.

“Under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s visionary leadership, New Mexico is steadfast in its commitment to fostering accessible and equitable education for all,” Higher Education Secretary Stephanie M. Rodriguez said in a statement. “This significant funding underscores our dedication to realizing the promise of cradle-to-career education, empowering individuals, bolstering our economy, and enriching our communities. It exemplifies our unwavering belief that education is the cornerstone of progress and prosperity for every New Mexican.”

The governor allotted $162 million for the Opportunity Scholarship, the most in state history.

“Combined with the creation of the state Higher Education Trust Fund, New Mexico now dedicates a greater proportion of state funding to tuition-free college than any other state,” a release said.

Overall, 42,000 students received taxpayer funding last year, including 10,000 who attended college in the summer.

Since the Opportunity Scholarship Act took effect in 2022, statewide enrollment has increased by more than 7%; the state’s short-term certificate completion rate has also increased by 39%.

Between 2021 and 2022, recipients of the Opportunity Scholarship were 8 percentage points more likely to remain in school than their peers.

The state’s Health Loan Repayment program, which provides taxpayer-funded student loan repayment for healthcare workers received $14.6 million for the second straight year; it will provide $25,000 in loan forgiveness to 700 working doctors, nurses, dentists, mental health professionals, and others with a three-year service commitment.

Plus, the Teacher Loan Repayment Program got $5 million, as did the Teacher Preparation Affordability Scholarship.

Most ($1.1 billion) of the money will go to the state’s colleges and universities. Those 25 schools will receive 4% more funding than the previous year. Plus, the governor previously approved $325 million for capital outlay projects on campuses, $32.5 million for building renewal and replacement, and $5 million for equipment renewal and replacement. Employees of the state’s colleges and universities will receive on average a 3% pay increase and a 1% funding increase toward employee benefits.

Other expenditures this spending features include the following, according to the release:

$15 million for the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program $14.8 million to expand nurse education programs $25 million to provide matching funds for university research $10 million for scholarships for master’s and doctoral students pursuing STEM degrees $10 million to create endowed faculty positions and fund scholarships in social work education programs $20 million to support students in workforce training programs not covered by other financial aid programs $2 million for a pilot program to support adult students in Integrated Education and Training Programs $3.725 million for RISE NM, the state’s education and workforce longitudinal data system $3 million for the state’s six centers of excellence for social work, agriculture, early childhood education, cybersecurity, renewable energy and biosciences $750,000 for adult literacy programs $1 million for the Dual Credit Program at public colleges and universities $600,000 for the Dual Credit Program at tribal colleges and universities $6,828,000 for adult education programs, including instructional materials and high school equivalency test vouchers. $5 million for the Teacher Preparation Affordability Scholarship $5 million for the Teacher Loan Repayment Program $5.5 million for cybersecurity initiatives for K-12 and higher education

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