Governor’s budget emphasizes continued investment in higher education

Stephanie Montoya

Recommendation boosts successful tuition-free college, loan repayment programs  

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Higher Education Department plan to put state dollars to work for students in 2023, opening doors for more New Mexicans through record-breaking programs.   

The executive budget recommendation features $1.2 billion in total funding for higher education, including sweeping expansions to high-demand scholarship and financial aid programs that have helped tens of thousands of New Mexicans pursue college and career training.   

“New Mexico’s strong economic outlook in 2023 means that we can continue the progress Gov. Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Higher Education Department have made in education and expand programs like the Opportunity Scholarship that are transforming the lives of New Mexicans. Doubling down on education funding and sustaining programs that work is a wise investment that leverages our state’s prosperity today to build a stronger, more prosperous New Mexico long term,” said Higher Education Secretary Stephanie M. Rodriguez.   

Thanks to the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship, college enrollment increased by more than 4 percent this fall, making New Mexico second in the nation for college enrollment growth despite a national trend of declining enrollment. Gov. Lujan Grisham is proposing $157.4 million for the scholarship, which could benefit as many as 45,000 students. The Opportunity Scholarship continues to be celebrated nationally as the most expansive tuition-free college program in the country, covering the cost of tuition and fees for both part-time returning adult students and recent high school graduates.   

“The Opportunity Scholarship is a proven solution to addressing New Mexico’s workforce development needs. The state’s increase in enrollment is no fluke. That success – that increase in more students attending college, and what it means for New Mexico’s economic future – is due to the state and institutional leadership, who understand the importance of programs like the Opportunity Scholarship in making higher education accessible to all and in promoting economic prosperity for the entire state,” said Charles Ansell, Vice President for Research, Policy, and Advocacy at Complete College America.  

Other priorities include $10 million for the Teacher Loan Repayment Program and $30 million for the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program. Applications submitted to the New Mexico Higher Education Department for both programs more than doubled last year, creating a need for additional funding to support more than 1,600 teachers and over 1,000 health care professionals in FY24. Both programs require service commitments of at least two years in high-need service areas and provide between $6,000 and $25,000 per year in student loan relief. The average teacher benefitting from the program last year owed more than $50,000 in student debt. Recipients of the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program owed an average of $95,500. 


The state’s 28 adult education programs are recommended to receive $8.7 million in funding, a $2.4 million increase. An additional $300,000 is also recommended to fund instructional materials and high school equivalency test fee vouchers. In 2022, the state successfully increased enrollment in adult education programs by more than 20 percent. Full funding for adult education and literacy programs remains a top priority to ensure these growing programs have adequate resources to address education and workforce needs in every community across New Mexico.  

Operational funding for the state’s public colleges and universities is recommended at $900 million, a two percent increase from FY23. An additional $87.8 million is recommended for capital outlay projects at New Mexico colleges, universities, and special schools. Higher education capital outlay projects are anticipated to add over 2,000 jobs across the state this year.   

An additional $43.3 million is recommended for health care workforce programs at colleges and universities, $8.2 million for student services, $6.5 million for early childhood and teacher education programs, and $3.8 million for mental and behavioral health programs from Research and Public Service Project (RPSP) funding.   

Additional recommendations from the Governor’s budget benefitting higher education are as follows:   

  • $42.5 million for graduate medical education programs at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine. 
  • $7.7 million to expand the capacity of nursing programs at New Mexico colleges and universities.  
  • $2.4 million for the dual credit program, including $400,000 for the Tribal Dual Credit Program.  
  • $5 million for the Teacher Preparation Affordability Scholarship and extending the program to licensed teachers seeking advanced degrees.  
  • $1.5 million for the College Food Initiative, part of Gov. Lujan Grisham’s Food Initiative. The Department awarded $900,000 in and launched the first statewide study on student basic needs with funding appropriated in FY23.   
  • $1.6 million for the state’s longitudinal data system.  
  • $2.25 million for Indigenous Education Technical Assistance Centers.  
  • $15.1 million for the Collaborative for Higher Education Shared Services (CHESS).  
  • $4 million to enhance cybersecurity at New Mexico universities.  
  • $100,000 for a software system supporting New Mexico’s Common Course Numbering System for higher education.  

Full details of the executive budget recommendation are available here. 

For more information about higher education programs and funding, visit