Senate Concurs, Sends Scholarship Updates Through

In the waning minutes of the 2024 legislative session, the Senate by voice vote concurred with the amended version of Senate Bill 239.

The Lottery and Opportunity Scholarship Changes, sponsored by Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill (D-Catron, Grant and Socorro) and George Muñoz (D-Cibola, McKinley and San Juan), makes important changes to the scholarship requirements that are all about getting college students that certificate or degree. The bill includes clarifications to some definitions, like counting credit requirements on a per-year basis instead of per-semester and making summer semesters eligible for scholarship coverage. That means a student can take a course load of 12, 12 and six hours rather than 15 and 15, which could better work with their personal responsibilities and keep them from dropping out.

SB 239 as amended also ties the new maximum distribution for the Opportunity Scholarship to inflation and allows high school students to earn college credit through dual enrollment without having those credits counting against the maximum covered by these programs. And it has important guardrails including rulemaking authority for the Higher Education Department, as well as a sunset provision to prompt legislators to review these changes to ensure they’re working, and others.

The Chamber has supported the bill throughout the session, testifying it “makes good changes that will ensure students can take full advantage of these programs the way we want them to. It clarifies really important requirements and grants our college students meaningful flexibility.”

This is a great bill that will serve our students and give us more graduates. Here’s to getting the governor’s signature on it!

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