New Mexico considers forcing students to apply for college

State lawmakers in New Mexico recently proposed a bill that would force high school students to apply for college unless they provide the government with alternative post-graduation plan.

House Bill 23, sponsored by Republican state representative Nate Gentry and Democratic state senator Daniel Ivey-Soto, would require high school juniors to “file an application with a college or show that the student has committed to an internship or apprenticeship or military service.”

Additionally, the bill mandates that local school boards must ensure that all students are “reasonably informed” about “the financial benefits of graduating a college and the availability of financial aid.”

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“At the end of grades eight through eleven, each student shall prepare an interim next-step plan that sets forth the coursework for the grades remaining until high school graduation,” the bill specifies, offering exemptions only for students who can demonstrate that they are preparing to enter the military or commit to an internship or apprenticeship.

New Mexico already requires high school students to submit a “next-step plan” outlining the coursework they plan to pursue in order to fulfill the state’s graduation requirements, but the mandatory college application would be a new and unique addition.

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According to USA Today, the proposal is a response to the state’s decline in college enrollment, which dropped 14 percent between 2010 and 2016, with Gentry predicting that requiring students to file applications—which cost $25 at the University of New Mexico—will induce more of them to actually attend college.

Citing New Mexico’s 6.5 percent unemployment rate, the sponsors hope that cultivating a better-educated workforce will attract new businesses to the state.

“There’s a reason we call graduation commencement because it’s the beginning of their future.” Ivey-Soto told the publication. “Let’s take that seriously.”

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