New Mexico has passed legislation that offers free college tuition. The Opportunity Scholarship provides tuition and required fee assistance for New Mexico residents. The scholarship is for students who are pursuing a training certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree at a New Mexico public college or university.
The Opportunity Scholarship is also available to adjacent Native American Reservations that border New Mexico. This includes the Ute Mountain Utes, Southern Utes, and Navajo. Native Americans are among the most underrepresented groups in higher education, this will have a huge impact on local tribes.
As a Native American, I am very encouraged to see states providing access to higher education for Native Americans. Just this year, Native American Students Can Attend the University of California System Tuition-Free. University of California system waives tuition and student service fees beginning in fall 2022 for Native American students who are state residents and members of federally recognized tribes.
What Does The Program Cover
The Opportunity Scholarship Fund covers 100% of tuition and required fees and up to $50 per credit hour for course-specific fees. In addition, the program will allow students to stack aid, such as federal, local scholarships, and private scholarships.
The scholarship will cover both community colleges and universities as well as tribal colleges, within the state. I am a huge supporter of community colleges and state colleges because of their benefits. If you want to earn a two-year or four-year degree, you are covered.
Housing Costs Are Your Highest Costs
It’s important to note, that the program does not cover, housing, dorms, meals, transportation, books, or other supplies. These costs will be the student’s responsibility.
As I have mentioned in previous articles, your housing cost is your highest cost when going to college. It is higher than tuition. While it’s exciting to have your tuition paid for, if you don’t live near a campus where you can live at home or with a family member, it could cost you a lot of money for room and board. I want you to be wise and not go into debt while earning your degree.
To be eligible for the Opportunity Scholarship, students must meet all of the following criteria:
- Be a resident of New Mexico (12 consecutive months).
- Have a high school diploma, GED, or received a high school equivalency credential.
- For recent graduate learners, enroll 12 credits hours but no more than 18 credits hours for the Fall and Spring semester.
- For continuing students, enrolled in at least 6 credit hours, but no more than 18 credit hours in the Fall or Spring semester.
- Consecutive enrollment for Fall and Spring terms. Summer term is optional.
- Maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average (GPA) beginning with the first semester of receiving the scholarship.
- Do not exceed 90 attempted credit hours for completion of an associate degree.
- The scholarship covers up to 90 credit hours for an associate degree and 160 credit hours for a bachelor’s degree.
- Students who currently have an associate degree or bachelor’s degree are not eligible.
- Non-credit programs are not eligible.
- Students are encouraged but are not required to complete a FAFSA.
How Do You Apply To The Opportunity Scholarship
To access the Opportunity Scholarship, students will have to go through the financial aid office of their college. The college can help you see if you are eligible. Students must reapply each semester. If a student is working on a bachelor’s degree, they will be eligible for the funds each semester until they get their degree or up to 160 credit hours. If the student is working toward an associate degree, they can renew the scholarship for up to 90 credit hours.
What Universities And Colleges Can I Attend
New Mexico students will be able to choose from 29 participating two-year and four-year colleges located across the state. Each college has its own variety of degrees and specialties offered. Each school also has different acceptance rates. Below are the 29 participating universities and colleges.
- Central New Mexico Community College, 900 University Blvd SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106
- Clovis Community College, 417 Schepps Blvd, Clovis, NM 88101
- Diné College, 1 Circle Dr, Route 12, Tsaile, AZ 86556
- Doña Ana Community College (NMSU), 3400 Espina St, Las Cruces, NM 88003
- Eastern New Mexico University – Portales, 1500 S Avenue K, Portales, NM 88130
- Eastern New Mexico University – Ruidoso, 709 Mechem Dr, Ruidoso, NM 88345
- Eastern New Mexico University – Roswell, 52 University Blvd, Roswell, NM 88203
- Institute of American Indian Arts, 83 Avan Nu Po Road, Santa Fe, NM 87508
- Luna Community College, 366 Luna Dr, Las Vegas, NM 87701
- Mesalands Community College, 911 S 10th St, Tucumcari, NM 88401
- Navajo Technical University, Lowerpoint Rd State Hwy 371, Crownpoint, NM 87313
- New Mexico Highlands University, 1005 Diamond St, Las Vegas, NM 87701
- New Mexico Junior College, 1 Thunderbird Cir, Hobbs, NM 88240
- New Mexico Military Institute, 101 W College Blvd, Roswell, NM 88201
- New Mexico State University – Las Cruces, 1780 E University Ave, Las Cruces, NM
- New Mexico State University – Alamogordo, 2400 N Scenic Dr, Alamogordo, NM 88310
- New Mexico State University – Carlsbad, 1500 University Dr, Carlsbad, NM 88220
- New Mexico State University – Grants, Martinez Hall, 1500 3rd St, Grants, NM 87020
- New Mexico Tech, 801 Leroy Pl, Socorro, NM 87801
- Northern New Mexico College, 921 N Paseo De Onate, Espanola, NM 87532
- San Juan College, 4601 College Blvd, Farmington, NM 87402
- Santa Fe Community College, 6401 Richards Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87508
- Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute, 9169 Coors Blvd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120
- The University of New Mexico – Albuquerque, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131
- The University of New Mexico – Los Alamos, 4000 University Dr, Los Alamos, NM 87544
- The University of New Mexico- Taos, 1157 Co Rd 110, Ranchos De Taos, NM 87557
- The University of New Mexico – Gallup, 705 Gurley Ave, Gallup, NM 87301
- The University of New Mexico – Valencia, 280 La Entrada Rd, Los Lunas, NM 87031
- Western New Mexico University, 1000 W College Ave, Silver City, NM 88062
If you’d like more information on the Opportunity Scholarship visit, FreeCollegeNM.