New Mexico breaks another enrollment record thanks to the Opportunity Scholarship

Stephanie Montoya

Spring college, university enrollment up 6 percent over last year 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced today that spring enrollment at New Mexico’s public colleges and universities is up by 6 percent compared to last spring, continuing an upward trend following the passage of the Opportunity Scholarship Act.  

According to preliminary data provided by the state’s public colleges and universities and compiled by the New Mexico Higher Education Department, overall college enrollment for the Spring 2023 semester increased by more than six percent over the same time last year. Prior to this year, spring-to-spring enrollment declined annually by 5 percent on average since 2016. 

“New Mexico continues to lead the nation in higher education access, and these numbers are proof that our bold investment in New Mexicans through the Opportunity Scholarship is changing the lives of tens of thousands of students and their families,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.  

Gov. Lujan Grisham is requesting nearly $150 million for the program in the coming year, which would sustain the program for current students and account for increases in the number of eligible students enrolling in certificate, associate degree, and bachelor’s degree programs at the 29 public and Tribal colleges and universities that offer the scholarship.  

“We knew that the Opportunity Scholarship would be a game changer for higher education in New Mexico, and the overwhelming number of New Mexicans taking advantage of this program demonstrates that removing financial barriers is a deciding factor in whether New Mexicans continue their education,” said Higher Education Secretary Stephanie M. Rodriguez. “Sustaining this investment will be critical to ensuring that these students and many others can continue their education and reach graduation day.” 

New Mexico already broke state college enrollment records last fall, with overall enrollment increasing by over 4 percent. The increase made New Mexico second in college enrollment increases nationwide, and at a time when enrollment nationally declined by 1 percent. The enrollment increase marked the first college enrollment growth in the state in over 10 years. The spring-to-spring increase is larger than the fall comparison, with branch community colleges seeing the largest jump at nearly 12 percent.  

Sector averages for spring-over-spring enrollment are listed below, with increases from the fall 2022 semester for comparison:

Spring 2022 to Spring 2023  
Fall 2021 to Fall 2022  
Research Institutions+4%  +1.8% 
Comprehensive Colleges +7% +4.7% 
Branch Community Colleges +11.6  +7.3%
Independent Community Colleges+5.7  +5.5%
Overall Total +6.1% +4.3% 

 Over 36,000 New Mexicans benefitted from the Opportunity Scholarship in the fall semester, with nearly 30 percent of recipients being first-time freshmen. Over 20 percent of students receiving the Opportunity Scholarship also receive the Lottery Scholarship, with the Opportunity Scholarship covering general student fees.