Reach Higher New Mexico

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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

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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?

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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

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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.

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Simplicity Matters For Free College

Apr 4, 2022

Source: Forbes

The free college movement continues to move forward even as it has been left out of the President’s budget request for 2023, much to the disappointment of advocates who want to see a robust federal-state partnership supporting access to public higher education. Meanwhile, States continue to implement their own free college programs, with New Mexico expanding one of the most generous free colleges plans in the country and Maine working towards its own promise program for students at two-year institutions.

New research suggests that the promise of free college can make a big difference when it comes to encouraging application and enrollment in higher education. The simple message of free college without strings attached motivates students to go to college in ways that more complicated programs that promise free college if a variety of conditions are met do not. The simplicity of the message from a well-designed and generous free college program is essential. Students place a premium on certainty, it seems.

Good policy leads to simple messaging for students

Professors researching the impacts of the Michigan University HAIL scholarship program have released a new working paper exploring how a guarantee of free college impacts application and enrollment. Their research shows that students guaranteed free tuition and fees for four years of attendance at the University of Michigan are more likely to apply and enroll in the institution if admitted. All the students studied came from low-income households and were high achieving students who met the minimum criteria for admission to Michigan.

The research uses three different groups of students to test whether different approaches are more or less likely to lead to more students applying and enrolling. One group received routine university correspondence designed for potential students. The second group received information telling them they would be eligible for their full tuition and fees to be paid if their family income and assets met specific criteria. The final groups were told their full tuition and fees would be paid if they enrolled, a simple guarantee of free education.

One of the arguments frequently made by researchers and politicians who oppose more free college programs is that college is already free for students from low-income households, at least when it comes to tuition. However, advocates have argued that messaging matters when encouraging students from low-income families and marginalized identities to enroll in college.

Free college increases enrollment for marginalized students

Telling a student that if they are admitted and enroll, they will be paid for, is a much simpler and surer message than: if you are admitted, complete the FAFSA and the CSS profile, have a family income below $80,000, family assets less than $20,000 and your family income does not go up by much for the next four years, then your tuition will be covered. Many institutions have programs like this. They tell students that providing they meet multiple criteria, they will have their full tuition and fees covered. The problem with them is they are more complex to message, they are harder for students and families to understand, and perhaps most importantly, they give the impression that the aid is not guaranteed because of all the hoop-jumping required.

Programs that encourage those least likely to enroll in college and help them financially once they get there can help encourage students to see themselves in college. Low-income students are rarely in a position to take a risk on whether they can afford college. Indeed, students often have no idea how much financial aid they will get until very shortly before deciding where they will attend.

This work adds to research that continues to show that telling students their tuition will be covered is a powerful message when it comes to encouraging application and enrollment in college.

It is all well and good to say that our financial aid system already makes college free to many students from low-income households, but messaging matters. A well-designed, first dollar, free college programs send a much more compelling message than complicated means-tested approaches. Moreover, the evidence shows that making it free with fewer conditions and then telling students precisely that, is much more effective.