New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship

Program Benefits
  • Two-year and four-year students: Moving towards tuition-free college for students pursuing certificate, associate, and bachelor's degrees in New Mexico.
  • Returning Lottery students: Tuition-free college to students who lost Lottery Scholarship eligibility but only have one or two semesters left to complete a bachelor's degree.
  • Working students: Reducing the minimum credit hour requirement for returning adult learners from 12 hours to six hours allows students to work and earn while pursuing an associate degree.
  • Extending aid impact: Covering tuition and fees means federal aid can be used for expenses such as transportation, housing, and childcare.
  • Covering course fees: Covers course fees up to $250 per course.
  • Expanding eligibility: Qualified students include returning adult learners and recent high school graduates, including those who complete a home-based or non-public school secondary education program.
Investing in our Workforce & Economy 
  • Increasing Career Training: Returning adult learners can receive up to two certificates under the Opportunity Scholarship, which are key for gaining and maintaining employment in many career technical fields.
  • Continuing education: Returning adult learners completing a certificate or associate degree can receive the scholarship for two additional years to complete a bachelor's degree in a high-demand career field.
Proven Benefits of Education
  • Median earnings for associate degree holders working full time were 24% higher, and for bachelor's degree holders were 61% higher than individuals with only a high school diploma.
  • Unemployment rates are 2.8% for associate degree holders, 2.1% for bachelor's degree holders, and 4.1% for those with a high school diploma.

*Ma, J., Pender, M., Welch, M. (2019). Education Pays: the benefits of higher education for individuals and society. CollegeBoard. Trends in Higher Education Series, Education Pays 2019 (

The New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship has already enabled thousands of students to pursue higher education. The passage of S.B. 135 will help thousands more to retrain and return to family-sustaining jobs and revitalize our economy in 2021 and beyond. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Any student pursuing a two-year degree or certificate program at a public or Tribal college in New Mexico is eligible to receive the Opportunity Scholarship. Eligible students must also:

  • Be at least 18 years old or otherwise eligible to receive the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship
  • Be a New Mexico resident
  • Enroll full time (currently 12 credit hours) in a credit-bearing two-year program.
  • Maintain a 2.5 GPA or higher

The Opportunity Scholarship covers any gap in tuition and fees owed by a student after other forms of state aid, such as the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship, are applied. If a student does not qualify for other forms of state aid, the Opportunity Scholarship can be used to cover the full cost of tuition and fees. 

Yes. If you receive the Opportunity Scholarship, Federal financial aid such as Pell grants will be applied after tuition and fees are paid, meaning that students can apply federal aid to other attendance costs such as books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and childcare. 

The Lottery Scholarship covers an average of tuition and fees for eligible students pursuing two year and four year degrees, depending upon the type of institution. This means that students often have remaining amounts owed for tuition and fees, plus other education related costs above and beyond tuition and fees. For the Lottery, students must begin school within 16 months of graduating from high school, attend full-time, and attend continuously, with limited exception.  

The Opportunity scholarship covers any gap left over in tuition and fees owed, whether a student receives other state aid or not, so that tuition and fees are completely covered for eligible students.  

Eligibility requirements for the Opportunity Scholarship also differ. Students can benefit whether they completed high school three months or thirty years ago.