SENATE BILL 481
56th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2023
William E. Sharer and William F. Burt and Crystal R. Diamond
RELATING TO HIGHER EDUCATION; AMENDING THE OPPORTUNITY SCHOLARSHIP ACT; PROVIDING THAT THE OPPORTUNITY SCHOLARSHIP IS A FORGIVABLE LOAN; DIRECTING RULEMAKING TO ESTABLISH REQUIREMENTS FOR FORGIVING THE AMOUNTS AWARDED TO STUDENTS PARTICIPATING IN THE OPPORTUNITY SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. Section 21-21R-2 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 2022, Chapter 42, Section 2) is amended to read:
"21-21R-2. DEFINITIONS.--As used in the Opportunity 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;
B. "department" means the higher education department;
C. "eligible student" means a New Mexico resident who is enrolled or enrolling in at least six credit hours, excluding the summer semester, in a public post-secondary educational institution or tribal college at any time following high school graduation or the award of a high school equivalency credential;
D. "public post-secondary educational institution" means a four-year state educational institution or a community college;
E. "scholarship" means [an opportunity scholarship] a forgivable loan;
F. "state educational institution" means an institution of higher education enumerated in Article 12, Section 11 of the constitution of New Mexico; and
G. "tribal college" means a tribally, federally
or congressionally chartered post-secondary educational institution located in New Mexico that is accredited by the higher learning commission."
SECTION 2. Section 21-21R-6 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 2022, Chapter 42, Section 6) is amended to read:
"21-21R-6. TERMINATION OF SCHOLARSHIP AUTHORIZED.--A scholarship is terminated and may be subject to repayment upon occurrence of:
A. withdrawal of the eligible student from the public post-secondary educational institution or tribal college or failure to remain enrolled in at least six credit hours per semester, excluding the summer semester;
B. failure of the eligible student to achieve satisfactory academic progress set by the public post-secondary educational institution or tribal college; or
C. substantial noncompliance by the eligible student with the Opportunity Scholarship Act or the rules promulgated pursuant to that act."
SECTION 3. Section 21-21R-8 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 2022, Chapter 42, Section 8) is amended to read:
"21-21R-8. DEPARTMENT RULEMAKING AND REPORTING.--
A. The department shall promulgate rules setting forth explicit criteria in accordance with the Opportunity Scholarship Act for:
(1) student qualification and continuing eligibility;
(2) calculating the total amount of money necessary to pay for opportunity scholarships at each eligible institution pursuant to Section [4 of the Opportunity Scholarship Act] 21-21R-4 NMSA 1978 and guidelines for the administration of the Opportunity Scholarship Act; [and]
(3) requirements for the memoranda of understanding regarding institution eligibility to participate in the opportunity scholarship program; and
(4) requirements for forgiving the amounts awarded to eligible students participating in the opportunity scholarship program.
B. The department shall report by November 1 of each year to the legislative finance committee and the department of finance and administration on the:
(1) status of the opportunity scholarship fund; and
(2) Opportunity Scholarship Act participation data aggregated for each eligible institution to show the:
(a) number of eligible students who received scholarships in the prior academic year;
(b) total number of students enrolled in eligible institutions in the prior academic year; [and]
(c) number of eligible students who graduated with a degree and, for each eligible student, the number of consecutive semesters and nonconsecutive semesters attended prior to graduation; and
(d) number of scholarships forgiven in the prior academic year."
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