SENATE BILL 195
54th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - second session, 2020
RELATING TO HIGHER EDUCATION; ENACTING THE NEW MEXICO RECONNECT SCHOLARSHIP ACT; PROVIDING CERTAIN STUDENTS WITH TUITION SCHOLARSHIPS TO ATTEND COMMUNITY COLLEGE; MAKING AN APPROPRIATION.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. [NEW MATERIAL] SHORT TITLE.--This act may be cited as the "New Mexico Reconnect Scholarship Act".
SECTION 2. [NEW MATERIAL] DEFINITIONS.--As used in the New Mexico Reconnect Scholarship Act:
A. "community college" means a branch community college of a four-year state educational institution, a two-year state educational institution or a community college or technical and vocational institute established pursuant to Chapter 21, Article 13 or 16 NMSA 1978, respectively;
B. "department" means the higher education department;
C. "student" means a resident of New Mexico who is enrolled or will be enrolled in a community college in New Mexico at the time the scholarship is awarded; and
D. "student aid" means aid offered by the community college to the student on a per-semester basis. "Student Aid" includes scholarships, grants, bequests and other forms of need-based aid and does not include student loans, except for loans issued by the department that may be waived in exchange for a period of service to the state.
SECTION 3. [NEW MATERIAL] CONDITIONS FOR ELIGIBILITY.--A New Mexico reconnect scholarship may only be awarded to an individual who:
A. complies with the rules adopted by the department pursuant to the New Mexico Reconnect Scholarship Act;
B. is a resident of New Mexico and has been a resident for at least the past year;
C. submits to the intended community college a completed:
(1) New Mexico reconnect scholarship application form developed by the community college or the department; or
(2) free application for federal student aid provided pursuant to the federal Higher Education Act of 1965;
D. is at least twenty-one years old;
E. has not earned an associate's, baccalaureate, master's or doctorate degree; and
F. has an adjusted gross income as defined in the Income Tax Act of less than thirty-six thousand dollars ($36,000) per year.
SECTION 4. [NEW MATERIAL] SCHOLARSHIP AUTHORIZED-- ADMINISTRATION--PREFERENCE IN SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS.--
A. The department shall administer the New Mexico Reconnect Scholarship Act and shall adopt all rules necessary to administer that act.
B. Scholarships shall be awarded to qualified applicants. Qualifications and preferences in scholarship awards shall be determined by the department pursuant to its adopted rules.
SECTION 5. [NEW MATERIAL] DURATION OF SCHOLARSHIP.--Each scholarship is for a period of one academic semester. A scholarship may be renewed until the award recipient has received four consecutive semester scholarship awards or until the student graduates from an eligible community college with an associate's degree or certificate, whichever occurs first.
SECTION 6. [NEW MATERIAL] TERMINATION OF SCHOLARSHIP.--A New Mexico reconnect scholarship awarded pursuant to the New Mexico Reconnect Scholarship Act is terminated upon occurrence of:
A. withdrawal of the award recipient from the community college;
B. failure of the award recipient to maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 on a scale of 4.0 in the immediately preceding semester;
C. failure to be enrolled in at least nine hours of course credits per semester;
D. failure to complete at least six hours of course credits in a semester in which the student received a scholarship pursuant to the New Mexico Reconnect Scholarship Act;
E. failure to maintain continuous enrollment in classes leading to an associate's degree or certificate; or
F. substantial noncompliance by the award recipient with the New Mexico Reconnect Scholarship Act or the rules adopted by the department pursuant to that act.
SECTION 7. [NEW MATERIAL] ORDER OF SCHOLARSHIP AWARD.-- Subject to the amount of money in the New Mexico reconnect scholarship fund, the amount of New Mexico reconnect scholarship awards shall not exceed the cost of tuition and mandatory fees charged to all students for coursework leading to completion of the eligible program of study at the eligible community college attended less all other student aid provided to students, which aid shall be credited first to tuition and mandatory fees.
SECTION 8. [NEW MATERIAL] FUND CREATED.--The "New Mexico reconnect scholarship fund" is created in the state treasury. Money in the fund is appropriated to the department to administer the New Mexico Reconnect Scholarship Act. Money in the fund shall revert to the general fund at the end of a fiscal year. Money in the fund shall be disbursed on warrants signed by the secretary of finance and administration pursuant to vouchers signed by the secretary of higher education or the secretary's authorized representative.
SECTION 9. APPROPRIATION.--Seven million dollars ($7,000,000) is appropriated from the general fund to the New Mexico reconnect scholarship fund for expenditure in fiscal year 2021 to carry out the provisions of the New Mexico Reconnect Scholarship Act. Up to seventy-five thousand dollars ($75,000) of the appropriation may be used by the higher education department for administrative purposes. Any unexpended or unencumbered balance remaining at the end of fiscal year 2021 shall revert to the general fund.
SECTION 10. EFFECTIVE DATE.--The effective date of the provisions of this act is July 1, 2020.
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