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New Mexico scholarships, student loans and grants

State residents could eventually qualify for full-ride college funding.

Roughly 50% of 2017 to 2018 graduating seniors in New Mexico had debt averaging about $21,800, according to College Insight. But you can combat the costs of higher education with grants, scholarships and loan-service programs.

Just announced: New Mexico residents can attend two-year programs tuition-free

The New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship was announced in 2019 and is one of the first of its kind. As a New Mexico state resident you can have your tuition and fees for a two-year program covered at any of New Mexico’s public or tribal colleges and universities. 

Top New Mexico scholarships for college

The New Mexico state government does a lot to help state residents attend college. If you live in New Mexico, check out some of these state funded scholarships.

Legislative Lottery Scholarship Program

  • Amounts: Up to cost of attendance for an undergraduate degree
  • Deadline: After first semester of enrollment
  • Eligibility requirements: Completed high school or received equivalent credentials in New Mexico, enroll full-time at a public college in New Mexico within 16 months of completing high school or receiving equivalent credentials, enroll in at least 12 credits at a two-year in-state public college or at least 15 credits at a four-year in-state public university, maintain consecutive enrollment with a minimum 2.5 GPA

This scholarship was created in 1996 to support college-bound high school seniors regardless of their immigration status. You can earn up to the cost of attendance until you complete your undergraduate degree.
There's no application process. You simply need to contact the financial aid office of the college you enroll in. Eligibility may vary between colleges, but as a rule it's best if you complete the FAFSA.

New Mexico Scholars Program

  • Amounts: Up to the cost of tuition, books and fees
  • Deadline: Varies by university
  • Eligibility requirements: Resident of New Mexico, New Mexico high school graduate, graduate in the top fifth percentile of your class or score a 25 on the ACT or 1140 on the SAT, enroll full-time in an undergraduate program, demonstrate financial need with an annual family income below $60,000, be a first time freshman prior to your 21st birthday

Administered by the Higher Education Department in Santa Fe, this scholarship is awarded to top-achieving freshmen. This scholarship can cover most of your college expenses. However, there are some specific requirements — so make sure you confirm your eligibility before applying. 

To apply, you'll need to complete the FAFSA to document your family's income and determine your financial need. Applications are submitted through the college you're attending, so check with your financial aid office.

New Mexico Graduate Scholarship

  • Amounts: Up to $7,200 annually
  • Deadline: Varies by university
  • Eligibility requirements: Priority given to those who have the greatest financial need and belong to groups that are underrepresented at public universities, US citizen or permanent resident living in New Mexico, possess an accredited bachelor's degree, enter an accredited in-state graduate school full-time, agree to work 10 hours per week at an unpaid internship

Unlike most scholarships, this one is available to graduate students. Although it's not a strict requirement, priority is given to students of underrepresented minority groups who have significant financial need. You'll also need to complete the FAFSA to help determine financial need. 

Students are only eligible for one scholarship a year, with a lifetime limit of two for a master's degree. Contact your school's financial aid office for more information on when and how to apply.

Top New Mexico grants for school

Grants are another form of debt-free funding. You may be familiar with federal grants, like the Pell Grant, but New Mexico has its own state specific grants as well.

Student Incentive Grant

  • Amount: $200 to $2,500
  • Deadline: Varies
  • Eligibility requirements: New Mexico state resident, enrolled at least half time as an undergraduate student at a New Mexico public or tribal college or university, demonstrate financial need as determined by the eligible college or university, completed high school or received equivalent credentials

To apply for this grant, you'll need to work with the financial aid office at your college. They will ensure you have the correct documentation on file and that you can prove financial need. 

If you qualify for the grant, it's active for one year at a time. However, you can renew it each year that you're an undergrad. 

College Affordability Grant

  • Amount: Up to $1,000
  • Deadline: Varies
  • Eligibility requirements: New Mexico state resident, enrolled at least half time as an undergraduate student at a New Mexico public or tribal college or university, demonstrate financial need as determined by the eligible college or university, completed high school or received equivalent credentials

If you're frustrated because you don’t qualify for other scholarships and grants, consider applying for the College Affordability Grant. It was created by the state of New Mexico to assist students who have financial need, but don't qualify for other forms of funding. 

The grant can be renewed annually while you're an undergrad. And it's easy enough to apply — fill out the FAFSA and contact your college's financial aid office.

Do I qualify for New Mexico scholarships and grants if I go to school out of state? 

The grants and scholarships listed are only available to New Mexico state residents who are also attending postsecondary school in the state. If you're planning on attending an out-of-state college, you may need to search for federal grants and scholarships. 

Does New Mexico offer special student loans to residents? 

New Mexico state doesn't offer traditional student loans. It does, however, have a set of loan-for-service programs that offer amounts up to $25,000 and are open to a wide range of students who have financial need. 

These programs are designed to assist students willing to work in underserved fields and areas. If the service requirements for the loan is fulfilled, it's 100% forgiven.

These programs are designed to assist students willing to work in underserved fields and areas. If the service requirements for the loan is fulfilled, it's 100% forgiven. 

  • Amounts: $4,000 to $25,000
  • Eligibility requirements: The following programs can be eligible for the loan service programs: (dentist, nurse, nurse educator, physician, physician assistant, teacher and veterinarian), New Mexico resident for at least 12 consecutive months, undergraduate or graduate student at public postsecondary, institution, enrolled at least half time, demonstrate financial need, agree to practice in an undeserved area within New Mexico

Other ways to pay for school in New Mexico

There are many different ways to fund your college education. If you don’t qualify for state grants and scholarships, or just need a little more dough, check out these additional financial aid options. 

Federal and college scholarships and grants

In addition to state-specific grants and scholarships that are available, the federal government offers their own. These can be general grants like the Pell Grant or major-specific like the TEACH Grant. You can read our student grants page for more information. 

Additionally, the college that you attend likely offers grants and scholarships. Reach out to your school’s financial aid office to see if you qualify. 

Federal and private student loans

If you exhaust all your debt-free funding options, start considering student loans. Start with federal loan funds since they typically have lower interest rates and more flexible repayment plans than private student loans. If you have to turn to private loans, compare loan rates and terms on our guide to private student loans.

Compare private student loan providers

Take a look at lenders that could help you fill the gap where financial aid and federal loans fall short.

Name Product APR Min. Credit Score Loan amount Loan Term
Stride Funding Income Share Agreement
As low as 2%
Up to $25,000
2 to 10 years
A student loan alternative for graduate students based on your future salary.
EDvestinU Private Student Loans
4.092% to 8.609% with autopay
$1,000 – $200,000
7 to 20 years
Straightforward student loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
CommonBond Private Student Loans
3.74% to 10.74%
$5,000 – $500,000
5 to 15 years
Finance your college education through this lender with a strong social mission and terms that fit your budget.
Edvisors Private Student Loan Marketplace
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Quickly compare private lenders for your school and apply for the right student loan.
Credible Labs Inc. (Student Loan Platform)
Starting at 0.99% with autopay
Good to excellent credit
Starting at $1,000
5 to 20 years
Get prequalified rates from private lenders offering student loans with no origination or prepayment fees.

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

If you’re a New Mexico state resident there are tons of ways to fund your education. Even if you are not a New Mexico state resident, you may qualify for federal or college specific funding.

Frequently asked questions. 

If I am an out-of-state student, how do I declare New Mexico state residency?

There are multiple requirements that must be met to be considered a New Mexico state resident. However, the most important step is to reside in New Mexico for 12 consecutive months. For all the state residency requirements, check out the New Mexico state website.

Can the student loan-service program be used for out-of-state colleges?

Yes. There's an option for using the loan service program out of state. 

The Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE) Loan-For-Service Program allows students pursuing medical or dentistry degrees to attend participating colleges in Arizona, California, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. You can review specific eligibility requirements on the state website.

Should I apply for federal, state and institution based funding?

Yes. If you apply for debt-free funding like grants and scholarships from all possible sources, it increases your odds of not needing to take out debt-heavy options like student loans. You may even qualify for enough funding to cover additional expenses like housing and transportation. 

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