It is a legal and regulatory term that applies to a post-secondary educational institution’s compliance with standards set forth in New Mexico Statutes and New Mexico Administrative Code (NMAC).The standards specified in the New Mexico Statute and the New Mexico Administrative Code (NMAC) include the institution’s self-evaluation process, accreditation (for degree granting institutions), degree standard, information provided to students, admissions procedure, tuition refund policy and procedure, student record maintenance, financial stability, student complaint procedure, surety bond to mitigate each student’s financial damage in case of closure, for example. The standards are designed to promote and stabilize the educational infrastructure, where students can focus on and complete their education without being negatively affected by possible unfairness, fraud, and misinformation of their chosen institution, and which maintains the educational quality suitable for higher education in New Mexico. The institutions that receive New Mexico State Authorization are considered to meet the minimum standards.

Accreditation is a quality assurance process that educational institutions or programs go through to make sure they meet the standards set out by an accrediting agency. Accrediting agencies in the context of higher education are private non-governmental organizations recognized by the United States Department of Education (ED), and institutions accredited by agencies not recognized by ED are not considered “accredited”. Please refer to the United States Department of Education website about “Accreditation in the United States” for additional detail. You can also search accredited institutions at Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs (DAPIP).

Though accreditation plays an important role for quality assurance in higher education, it is voluntary for institutions to seek accreditation, and private post-secondary educational institutions have the autonomy to develop their own curriculum and objectives in education. NMHED has the authority to develop the standards for New Mexico State Authorization and to enforce compliance with the standard via legal action when needed. For example, the New Mexico Statute states; The department shall promulgate and file, in accordance with the State Rules Act [Chapter 14, Article 4 NMSA 1978], rules that require all degree-granting schools to seek appropriate external accreditation by an agency recognized by the federal department of education as a means of assuring quality instruction, and NMHED supports the idea that accreditation provides New Mexico students pursuing degrees with more assurance in educational quality and flexibility in credit transfer to institutions of other states. In some instances, portions of the standards for accreditation and New Mexico State Authorization can be duplicative or contradictory, because each set of standards are developed separately by different entities (e.g., private accrediting agencies and the State of New Mexico) to serve the best interests of the applicable constituents.

The financial aid options vary depending on each private post-secondary educational institution.  Some institutions offer a variety of options, whereas others do not offer any. Please refer to the NMHED’s Private Post-Secondary School Directory, which lists each school’s data sheet including the institution’s financial aid offerings.

Yes. The institution may be an illegal operation, which does not meet the standards set out for State Authorization. However, please note some institutions offering distance education programs in New Mexico are not listed on the NMHED’s website. Those institution are authorized by National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (NC-SARA) to offer distance education programs in the participating states including New Mexico. NC-SARA website has its own listing of the authorized institutions. If you do not find the institution on the NMHED website or the NC-SARA website, please contact NMHED.

Please visit “Closed School Transcript Requests” section within the NMHED website to see if NMHED maintains transcript records for the closed school you attended. The section also gives you the instructions on how to submit your transcript request and make the applicable fee payment to NMHED.

Per New Mexico statute, effective January 2021, private post-secondary educational institutions are required to disclose to prospective students the total estimated cost of attendance, including tuition, fees, books, transportation, supplies and so on. Please utilize the disclosure information regarding the total estimated cost of attendance to make a sound financial decision on your post-secondary education. If the disclosure information is not satisfactory, please contact our Department.

The state authorized institutions in New Mexico are required by statute to have a teach-out plan for their students in case of closure, which means your institution should refer you to an alternative institution that is reasonably equivalent for you to continue and complete the educational program you chose with your original institution without any additional cost. However, some educational programs are scarce and your original institution may not be able to arrange such an alternative. In such case, you are entitled to received a full refund for the enrollment term/semester with your academic verification provided for transfer.    

State Authorization in New Mexico must be renewed every year along with the applicable fees.  Administrative Fee of $500 is due at the time of each application submission (including renewals). Once an application is approved, additional Application Fees ranging from $500 to $5,000 will be assessed to the approved institution based on the authorization type and the institution’s gross tuition revenue.  State Authorized institutions are also required by New Mexico law to report its performance to NMHED on a yearly basis.  The yearly report requires payment of a Reporting Administrative Fee ranging from $100 to $500 at the time of report submission, the exact fee amount is based on the institution’s authorization type. Additionally, fees ranging from $200 to $300 will be assessed when an institution reports any substantial changes from its State Authorization application. 

Fee schedule for Distance Education Authorization

Fee schedule for all the other State Authorization types

No, unless the institution is degree granting (Associate, Baccalaureate, Master’s and Doctoral degrees) or applying for Distance Education Authorization. For Registration and License, degree-granting institutions must be accredited.  New degree-granting institutions making application with NMHED for State Authorization must obtain accreditation within three years of submitting the initial application, which include a written accreditation plan. For Distance Education, current accreditation is required at the time of application.

New Mexico has four different types of State Authorization based on the institution’s campus location, accreditation status and educational service to New Mexico students.  The requirements for each authorization type can be found in the applicable statute and rules.

 Authorization Type Campus Location Accreditation Status Educational Service Applicable Status Application Rule
 Registration New Mexico Regionally accredited On-Campus and online programs within New Mexico

Post-Secondary Educational Institution Act

21.23.1 etc

5.100.6 NMAC

5.100.8 NMAC

LicenseNew MexicoNationally or Programatic or not accreditedOn-Campus and online programs within New Mexico

Post-Secondary Educational Institution Act

21.23.1 etc

5.100.7 NMAC

5.100.8 NMAC

Distance Education (not NC-SARA approved)Outside of New MexicoAccredited by a US Department of Education recognized accreditorOnline Programs

Interstate Distance Education Act

21.23B.1 etc

5.99.1 NMAC

5.99.2 NMAC

Out-of-State Proprietary InstitutionsOutside of New MexicoN/ARecruting and advertising activities in New Mexico

Out-of-State Proprietary School Act

21.24.1 etc