BYU students respond to New Mexico free tuition proposal

A 2015 Ohio State University study found that seven out of 10 college students were stressed about their finances and that students’ primary funding for college tuition is loans. As debt can become a burden for many college students, the New Mexico state government is planning to implement a free tuition plan for students beginning fall 2020 in order to expand access to higher education. (Haley Mosher)

The topic of free tuition has been discussed among Democrat presidential candidates, but New Mexico’s proposal of free tuition plan has college students curious to know what the plan entails.

Even though BYU tuition is less than half of what the average college student pays, some BYU students aren’t thrilled about the idea of a free tuition plan because of the life lessons paying for college has taught them.

Although debt may seem like a crippling roadblock, BYU student Sophia Sok has a unique perspective on the matter.

“I’ve grown a lot spiritually from the financial aspect and mentally knowing how to be self-sustaining and knowing how to be independent and take care of myself and my life,” Sok said. “A school is where you learn not only academically but how to sustain life too.”

A study completed in 2019 by Student Loan Hero showed that among the class of 2018, 69% of college students took out student loans and graduated with an average debt of $29,800, including both private and federal debt.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced a plan mid-September that would offer full college tuition to state residents. The plan is called the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship and is estimated to benefit 55,000 students at all 29 public higher education institutions in the state beginning Fall 2020.

The scholarship is available for New Mexico residents with a high school diploma or equivalent who have a minimum grade-point average of 2.5. The state’s government hopes to see increased enrollment, improved economic growth and expanded opportunities for New Mexico families.

The cost of tuition is something college students take into consideration when choosing a university to attend. At BYU, students like Kelli Bennion understand that tuition is considerably lower than other private universities.

“People forget how expensive other colleges are. BYU is still a lot of money, but I don’t think we realize how great of an education we’re getting,” Bennion said.

BYU tuition increased by 3% for the 2019-2020 academic school year. BYU spokesperson Natalie Ipson said the increase was standard.

“Every year there is typically an increase as inflation rises,” she said.

As tuition steadily rises, there are many things that come from a BYU education that money can’t buy.

“Personally, I think it’s absolutely a Christ-centered environment where people can relate to others and we share the same beliefs and we have that one purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ where no other institutions can provide, nor money can be paid for,” Sok said.

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