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A sign at the Associated Students of UNM office in the Student Union Building. The ASUNM senate expressed concerns over a proposed bill in the state legislature that would make the Opportunity Scholarship into a forgivable loan. 

ASUNM wary of Opportunity Scholarship loan bill

Appropriations approved during latest full senate meeting


Free tuition at the University of New Mexico might need extra support during the state legislative session  in Santa Fe to remain as is, according to Associated Students at UNM President Ian May. The Opportunity Scholarship — which currently covers tuition for many UNM students — would become a forgivable loan if Bill 481 becomes state law.

May said not to panic since the bill is highly unlikely to pass, but also invited the ASUNM senators to voice opposition to the bill during the ASUNM full senate meeting this past Wednesday, Feb. 22.

“Do not panic about this. This is not a call to action. It might become that at some point … If any of you all want to come up and speak on behalf of the Opportunity Scholarship, especially if you receive it, I think that now would be a really pertinent time to do that,” May said.

The Bill would seek tuition repayment from students who drop out, have a low GPA, or take less than six credit hours per semester. SB 481 is sponsored by three Republican state senators and passed the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday and now goes to the Senate Finance Committee.

As of Friday, Feb. 24, the New Mexico Legislature is now 39 days into its 60 day legislative session. The date of the next hearing for SB 481 has not been posted at the time of publication.

Also during the meeting, the ASUNM senate granted $32,801 across eleven student organization appropriations labeled 16S through 25S and 27S. Appropriations are special requests for one-time expenses.

With 16S, the ASUNM student court, which is “tasked with resolving disputes between individuals and organizations affiliated with ASUNM and upholding the integrity of the Constitution and Law Book,” according to their website, won $3,000 to increase their semesterly stipend to $500 per justice, equal to the pay of an ASUNM senator. Silas Wyatt, senator and chair of the ASUNM finance committee, hopes this adds credibility to the branch.

“I think if we’re going to make a credible claim that we view them as an equal branch of government that deserves the same respect as we do, that starts with funding them at the same amount that we do,” Wyatt said.

May told the Daily Lobo he planned to sign all appropriations passed during the meeting.

In other business, the ASUNM senate is seeking to fill a vacant seat. ASUNM Vice President Krystah Pacheco will pick a candidate from a pool of applicants who then must obtain senate approval. 

The full senate meets again on Wednesday, March 8. Full senate meetings are open to the public.

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Gabriel Saiz is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at 

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