Governor accuses schools of ‘exploiting’ funds as ‘free’ college program backfires

After incentivizing New Mexico public colleges to raise tuition rates by subsidizing taxpayer-funded “free” college to the tune of $146 million this year, Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration is now complaining about tuition hikes.

Last year, New Mexico State University announced an annual four percent increase in tuition, while the University of New Mexico hiked tuition rates by three percentage points. Western New Mexico University increased its tuition and fees by eight percent, while Eastern New Mexico University’s tuition remains flat. 

Lujan Grisham’s Higher Education Secretary Stephanie Rodriguez urged college regents and trustees “to keep tuition flat this year in the best interest of students and taxpayers. We are witnessing enrollment increases for the first time in over a decade and substantial investments in higher education compared to the rest of the country.” 

“These historic investments are meant to directly benefit students by funding their education and reducing the portion of operational costs passed along to students, not an opportunity to exploit state funding to increase college and university revenues through more tuition and fees.”

This year’s budget passed during the 2023 Legislative Session was a 94.7 percent increase from last year’s $75 million, essentially no strings attached, spending on “free” college programs. 

Gov. Lujan Grisham speaking at the Roundhouse about the Opportunity Scholarship (taxpayer-funded ‘free’ college).

The increases in tuition costs by state universities can be directly correlated to the increase in state funds they are getting through the so-called Opportunity Scholarship. The colleges are very much “exploiting” state funding, as Rodriguez claimed, because there are no safeguards in the Democrat legislation that would cap funding or subsidize only certain fields of study needed in the job market. 

Now, a New Mexico student could get their entire useless “gender studies” degree entirely paid for by the state’s taxpayers despite its ineffectuality.

If the state will pay for even more of the cost of tuition, then it is in the colleges’ best financial interest to raise rates since that would mean more money coming to the institutions on the backs of taxpayers. 

As the state continues its costly multi-million-dollar experiment to fully subsidize state college costs for all residents (without any income caps or requirements, students are in the country legally), the price of a New Mexico degree will be even higher. 

This comes as New Mexico graduates leave the state in droves, now along with their 100 percent taxpayer-funded degrees — another lost investment by the state’s taxpayers. 

New Mexico’s K-12 educational programs remain the lowest in the nation.


10 thoughts on “Governor accuses schools of ‘exploiting’ funds as ‘free’ college program backfires”

  1. Politicians never learn. The more “free” they give the more others will find a way to take advantage of it.

    1. Very true, Roy, and the larger the burden is on the taxpayers. Government will always have its hand out, demanding that taxpayers fund every hair-brained program and idea they come up with.

  2. The New Mexico Democrat Party governs by headlines. If makes good press, it passes. Well-constructed, thoughtful legislation dies in Committee one each and every year.

    1. It is the Democratic Party, not Democrat party. Pinon Post is a conservative right wing opinion paper. The bias is obvious in stories like this. Read John’s article with the knowledge that he is very opinionated and biased.

  3. There’s no such thing as free . All welfare and socialist programs are simply debt transfer. ie this “free” college tuition program simply makes all taxpayers liable for the state incurring debt from failed socialist policy. Without guidelines or oversight the program is bound to be another cash cow for corrupt politicians. And don’t tell me it’s an “investment “ we’ve been investing in last in education programs for decades with no fix in sight.

  4. When the federal government took over school loans tuition went up. When the government gets involved things go bad for the citizens. How about universities getting paid more for doing a better job. Schools should possibly get rewarded when 90% of their graduates receive jobs in NM. Maybe they get rewarded for having both political views being taught. My nephew came back from Socorro and turned into a dip shit Democrat. That is indoctrination not education. Schools should loose funding for in doctoring our children. College is to learn differ points of view, for brooding our children’s minds. My only question if our K-12 are the worst in the country, how are kids even getting into college?

  5. New Mexican kids have to go to NM colleges since they are only getting a third grade education in k-12. My friend’s daughter went to a CA college, dropped out within the first semester, couldn’t even get thru English 101 without using grammarly.

  6. It’s BS to say that there are no restrictions on the program. My kids got screwed at the tail end of their degree because of COVID. Their school (which has since found itself in some serious hot water) cut semesters short at the beginning but didn’t code the classes as not finished they way they should have, so it reduced their total financial aid available. Then when things opened back up the school started classes back up in September, only to shut campus down before thanksgiving, again not coding things correctly. So now they need ONE class each to graduate which isn’t covered by financial aid because apparently you can only re-attempt a class once (even though it wasn’t their fault) and the program doesn’t cover them because they have “attempted too many credit hours” to qualify for the program. They would have to transfer to a new school at this point, except that not all their credits would carry over, and they are still maxed out on financial aid (yes, they COULD take loans out, but they don’t want to … and I can’t blame them)

  7. How about tuition aid forgiveness for landing a good job in New Mexico after graduating from a New Mexico University, or something like that? It’s my experience that given a free ride leads to serious laziness at best.

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