Higher Education Department celebrates banner year of progress in education

Stephanie Montoya


2022 marked by historic advancements in college access, affordability, and student success 

As 2022 comes to a close, the New Mexico Higher Education Department is highlighting the many achievements made throughout the year under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in higher education, from the historic passage of the Opportunity Scholarship Act to record-breaking participation in loan forgiveness programs.  

“This has been a monumental year for higher education in New Mexico. We led the nation in providing universal tuition-free college through the Opportunity and Lottery Scholarships, making it possible for our state to buck a national trend of enrollment declines to see the second-highest enrollment growth of any state, all because of our decision to invest in students,” said Higher Education Secretary Stephanie M. Rodriguez. “I am grateful for the leadership of Gov. Lujan Grisham and the partnership of hundreds of students and advocates who have put New Mexico on the map as an example of what is possible when states put students, families, and educators first.” 

The New Mexico Higher Education Department celebrated several accomplishments in 2022, including:  

  • Bipartisan passage of the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship Act, establishing the most expansive and equitable tuition-free college program in the nation, benefitting over 36,000 New Mexico students in the fall semester. President Joe Biden visited Central New Mexico Community College this October, highlighting the impact of the Opportunity Scholarship and state loan repayment programs. 
  • Growing undergraduate student enrollment across New Mexico public colleges and universities, countering a national trend of enrollment declines and making New Mexico number two nationally in enrollment growth. The state experienced a four percent across-the-board increase, with a nine percent increase in first-time students. 
  • Record-breaking expansion of loan repayment programs for teachers and health care professionals in which over 1,400 teachers are benefitting from the Teacher Loan Repayment Program and 60 health care workers are benefitting from the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program, thanks to expanded state and federal funding. Participation in these programs increased by 184 percent in 2022 compared to the prior year.  
  • Over $110 million in historic investments in workforce education in endowment funding awarded to 13 colleges and universities across New Mexico to recruit and retain faculty and establish other supports to increase the number of teachers, nurses, and social workers graduating and entering the workforce in New Mexico. Funds will support 58 endowed faculty positions statewide and are expected to enroll more than 700 new students and support nearly 7,000 students overall.   
  • Expanding nurse education programs through $15 million in Nursing Program Expansion funds to recruit and retain students and faculty in 17 New Mexico nursing education programs at public colleges and universities.  
  • A total of $1 million to support student mental and behavioral health through targeted grants for student-centered mental and behavioral health services for students across 20 college and university campuses and programs.   
  • Ensuring student food security through $900,000 in targeted student food security grants benefitting 15,000 students across 15 college and university projects and resource centers to provide access to nutritious food and nutrition resources to students. New Mexico is the first state to develop a system-wide study of basic student food and housing needs across all public higher education institutions with $150,000 in state funds.  
  • New Mexico expanded adult education and literacy programs and experienced a 20 percent increase in program enrollment after increasing funding for the state’s 26 providers who provide instruction preparing students to attain a high school equivalency credential, learn English as a second language, improve literacy, numeracy, and digital literacy skills, and train for in-demand careers. The introduction of the National External Diploma Program also provided a new option for adults to earn a high school equivalency diploma based on a competency-based, hands-on assessment program. 
  • The GEAR UP college readiness program provides college and career readiness for middle and high school students and more than 7,000 students and their families explored college and career options through direct services at seven school districts, college bus tours, and student conferences.   
  • Through capital projects and investments, the agency worked to ensure college campuses are safe, welcoming spaces and creating jobs. The agency embarked on a statewide infrastructure tour earlier this year, touring campus facilities and reviewing recommendations for future projects. Colleges and universities received $35.6 million for capital projects this year, with $8 million to support building renewal and replacement and $3.5 million for the demolition of unusable campus facilities. Voters approved an additional $215.9 million this November via GO Bond 3, which is estimated to created 2,000 jobs statewide.   
  • Investing in higher education, research, and development though $3 million from the state’s Higher Education Endowment Fund for initiatives focused on education, economic development, and other priorities aimed at moving the state forward.   

Gov. Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Higher Education Department look forward to continuing to make progress for New Mexico students, families, and communities in 2023 as reflected in its budget priorities for the coming year.  

To keep up with the latest news and updates from the agency, visit hed.nm.gov and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.