Reach Higher New Mexico

Not sure where to begin? We can help!

To get started let's answer a few questions. Do any of these apply to you within the last 18 months?

  • I graduated from high school
  • I completed a high school equivalency credential
  • I was honorably discharged from the military

Yes No

It looks like you are considered a recent high school graduate.

The Lottery Scholarship, New Mexico’s first tuition-free college program, covers 100% of tuition for recent New Mexico high school graduates.

Click here to learn more about scholarship options for you!
Do you plan on enrolling in a for-credit certificate, two-year, or four-year program at a public college or university in New Mexico?

Yes No

New Mexico state scholarship programs can only be used at public colleges or universities in New Mexico.

New Mexico state scholarship programs can only be used toward for-credit certificate and degree programs at one of the 29 participating public colleges and universities in the state.

Click here to view participating schools.
Do any of these apply to you?
  • I have already earned a bachelor's degree
  • I have 160 credit hours or more on my transcript from previous college attendance

Yes No

The New Mexico Lottery and Opportunity Scholarships are for students who have not yet earned a bachelor's degree and who have fewer than 160 credit hours on their transcript.

However, we encourage you to explore our loan-for-service and loan repayment plans:

It looks like you are considered a returning adult student.

The Opportunity Scholarship makes it possible for you to pursue a college degree or career training certificate, even if you are starting college for the first time later in life, or going back after many years.

Click here to learn more about scholarship options for you!

Today’s lesson? Free college

Mar 13, 2022

Source: Albuquerque Journal

Many careers require certifications or higher education degrees. New Mexico has funding available to help achieve the training and education needed for such careers. Some refer to this as “free.” Others call it a taxpayer-funded investment and your investment in your future. Use it well.

Opportunity Scholarship

This program expands under Senate Bill 140 that becomes effective July 1.

Who is eligible?

• N.M. resident

• High school graduate, including home-based and non-public school secondary education program or received a high school equivalency credential. Includes adults returning to school.

• Not yet earned a baccalaureate degree.

• Enrolled in six to 18 credit hours per fall or spring semester. Enrollment in consecutive semesters to show progress.

• Maintains a cumulative grade point average of 2.5

• If used for a summer semester, enrolled in three to nine credit hours

The Opportunity Scholarship may be awarded for up to 160 credit hours or until a student completes their first bachelor’s degree, whichever comes first. A student could use the scholarship to attain multiple certificates, one associate degree and one bachelor’s degree.

A scholarship for a credit-bearing certificate may be awarded only where data indicates the certificate is in high demand by N.M. employers, as determined by the Department of Higher Education in consultation with the Workforce Solutions Department. (Healthcare, education, STEM and technical trades.) A list will be released each year.

Students with disabilities or exceptional circumstances may petition for a waiver of the eligibility requirements.

What is covered?

An amount not to exceed 100% of tuition and fees after all other state financial aid has been applied.

How long does it last?

One semester, but it can be renewed if the student meets eligibility and is provided until the eligible student accrues 160 credit hours or graduates from a four-year post-secondary educational institution or tribal college. It covers:

• A credit-bearing certificate or certificates

• Up to 90 credit hours for an associate degree or the degree, whichever comes first

• Up to 160 credit hours for a bachelor’s degree or the degree, whichever comes first

How do I apply?

There is no application. Work with the financial aid office at the 29 New Mexico two-year and four-year colleges in the program.

What is not covered?

Books, support materials, room and board or other costs related to attending school. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at to see what you may qualify for. Private scholarships may help cover these expenses.

The New Mexico Higher Education Department is promulgating rules to determine which fees will be allowable under the Opportunity Scholarship. The final rules regarding such expenses will be published by July 1.

Who pays for it?

Balances of the legislative endowment scholarship fund and the college affordability endowment fund shall be transferred to the Opportunity Scholarship fund. A total of $24.5 million from those funds will be available next fiscal year. General appropriations of taxpayer funds made by the Legislature shall be transferred to the Opportunity Scholarship fund.

Lottery Scholarship

This program was created in 1996. According to the Legislative Finance Committee, Finance Facts, Lottery and Lottery Scholarship: Revenue from the various games offered by the New Mexico Lottery Authority support tuition scholarships for most state college undergraduates from New Mexico. In the 10 years from 2010 through 2019, the authority, a quasigovernmental agency supported by lottery revenue, collected about $1.4 billion in gross revenues, with about 30% of that going to the lottery scholarship fund and slightly over half going to prize-winners. The remainder was spent on retailer commissions, administration and cost of goods sold. Since its creation in 1996, nearly 135,000 students have attended New Mexico public colleges with the help of a lottery scholarship, according to the authority, and 82,000, or 61%, have graduated.

Who is eligible?

• N.M. resident

• High school graduate or received a high school equivalency credential

• Enrolled full-time at a public post-secondary educational institution in New Mexico within 16 months of graduation or receipt of a high equivalency credential and maintain continuous full-time enrollment

• Enrolled in and earn 15 credit hours per semester at a four-year New Mexico public university

• Enrolled in and earn 12 credit hours per semester at a two- year New Mexico public community college

• Maintains a 2.5 or greater cumulative grade point average

Students with disabilities may qualify for reduced credit hour requirements and additional semesters of the scholarship.

What is covered?

Up to 100% of tuition (up to an undergraduate degree) for students who meet the eligibility criteria.

How long does it last?

Begins with the second semester of enrollment at a public postsecondary educational institution. Renewed on a per-semester basis subject to maintaining eligibility. First-semester bridge scholarships are available.

How do I apply?

Contact the public post-secondary educational institution’s financial aid advisor for eligibility verification – no application needed.

For further information, visit sources identified below.

Source: New Mexico Legislature at, N.M. Higher Education Department at