New Mexico Higher Education Department addresses questions on tuition-free college

Stephanie Montoya

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Higher Education Department is working to ensure that all New Mexicans receive accurate information on tuition-free college via the New Mexico Opportunity and Lottery Scholarships as classes begin at colleges and universities statewide this month.  

Students should first contact the financial aid office at their college or university via the list provided below to determine which scholarships they are eligible for. Students seeking additional information or needing further assistance are encouraged to visit or call the Financial Aid Hotline at 1-800-279-9777 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Support is also available via email at  

“Colleges and universities are excited to welcome students to campus this fall under the most expansive tuition-free college program in the nation, but we need to ensure that students are getting the message that this benefit is available to them,” said Higher Education Secretary Stephanie M. Rodriguez. “While we understand that the start of school is a busy time, no eligible student should be turned away. We will continue working with our public colleges and universities and directly with students to make sure that eligible students receive the Opportunity and Lottery Scholarships, and that information is provided to them in an accurate and timely manner.”  

New Mexico’s tuition-free college program includes the Lottery Scholarship for recent high school graduates who enroll full time and the Opportunity Scholarship for returning adult learners, part-time students, and students pursuing certain high-demand career training certificates. Most New Mexico students qualify for tuition-free college and can have certain required fees covered under one or both programs.  

There is no separate application for the Opportunity or Lottery Scholarships as funds are awarded directly to students by the college or university they attend. While the Higher Education Department administers overall funds for the Opportunity and Lottery Scholarship programs, the state’s 29 partnering public colleges and universities are responsible for working directly with students enrolling at their respective campuses to determine eligibility and award scholarships.  

The agency has hosted trainings and distributed materials to officials at New Mexico schools in preparation of the rollout of the expanded program this fall semester and issued rules further clarifying eligibility requirements. Secretary Rodriguez and State Financial Aid Director Dr. Harrison Rommel had the privilege of presenting to college and university financial aid officials during the New Mexico Association of Financial Aid Administrators State Conference in Ruidoso this March and provided a training last month that drew in nearly 200 participants from across the state.   

Recent high school graduates are eligible for the Lottery Scholarship and can use institution and bridge scholarships awarded by the school and the Opportunity Scholarship to cover any remaining tuition and required fee gaps during their first semester. Students who are returning to school later in life while attending part-time and those pursuing career training certificates in certain fields can receive full tuition and allowable fees via the Opportunity Scholarship.  

Students are eligible for tuition-free college via the Opportunity Scholarship if they are a New Mexico resident, are enrolled in at least six credit hours, have not attempted 90 credit hours toward an associate degree or 160 credit hours toward a bachelor’s degree, and are pursuing an eligible certificate or any associate or bachelor’s degree at a participating school. Recent high school graduates will continue to be eligible for bridge scholarships during their first semester and receive the Lottery Scholarship in following semesters. Students who have already attained their first bachelor’s degree are not eligible to pursue additional degrees or certificates under these programs. 

A full list of frequently asked questions and answers is available here. 

Direct contact information for financial aid offices at participating New Mexico colleges and universities is below.  

Central New Mexico Community College 

Clovis Community College 

Diné College - Crownpoint Center 

Diné College - Shiprock 

Eastern New Mexico University - Main 

Eastern New Mexico University - Roswell 

Eastern New Mexico University - Ruidoso 

Institute of American Indian Arts 

Luna Community College 

Mesalands Community College 

Navajo Technical University 

New Mexico Highlands University 

New Mexico Junior College 

New Mexico Military Institute 

New Mexico State University 

New Mexico State University - Alamogordo 

New Mexico State University - Doña Ana 

New Mexico State University - Grants 

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech) 

Northern New Mexico College 

San Juan College 

Santa Fe Community College 

Southeast New Mexico College 

Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute 

University of New Mexico - Main 

University of New Mexico - Gallup 

University of New Mexico - Los Alamos 

University of New Mexico - Taos 

University of New Mexico - Valencia 

Western New Mexico University