Free tuition at University of New Mexico for some students

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico has announced it will offer free tuition for first-time students whose families make $50,000 or less.

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The Lobo First-Year Promise scholarship program was announced Thursday and is available to incoming freshmen class at the Albuquerque campus.

University officials estimate up to 1,500 students are eligible for the program, which could cost the university more than $9 million, based on current tuition and fees, officials said.

The scholarship will cover tuition and fees not covered by other scholarships, grants and financial aid, university officials said. The university capped qualifying household income at $50,000, about the state median income.

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The free tuition is aimed at "students who may not have thought a university education was possible next year,” said Dan Garcia, university vice president of enrollment management. “We felt this was the right thing to do, and we’re prepared to put in what we need to."

In-state students face an April 30 deadline to complete application requirements, be accepted and apply for financial aid. The scholarship program would cover the remaining tuition and fees.

“Regardless of what the cost is, UNM has made the commitment we’re going to fund this," Garcia said.

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The university is expected to reevaluate the program after the 2020-21 academic year to determine if it could be repeated.

“We want all New Mexicans to know that they have options, and that attending the state’s flagship university is well within reach," Provost James Holloway said. "This program will allow more students to have a choice, and to select a higher education option based on their needs and aspirations, rather than cost."

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