New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship

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.

Program Benefits
  • Two-year students: tuition-free college to 30,000 students pursuing two-year degrees, regardless of when they finished high school.
  • Four-year students: tuition-free college to students who lost Lottery Scholarship eligibility, but have one or two semesters to degree completion.
  • Working students: reducing the minimum credit hour requirement from 12 hours to 6 would allow students to work and earn while pursuing a degree.
  • Extending aid impact: covering tuition and fees means federal and institutional aid can be used for expenses such as transportation and childcare, which can stand in the way of completing a degree.
Investing in Our Future
  • $22 million to provide tuition-free college to up to 30,000 New Mexicans pursuing two year degrees.
  • $4 million for a pilot program targeting four-year students who lost the Lottery Scholarship and are nearing degree completion.
  • $150 million return on investment to New Mexico’s economy via income tax contributions, GRT, and public assistance savings for 30,000 college graduates.
Proven Benefits of Education
  • In 2019, median earnings for associate degree holders working full time were 24% higher than for those individuals with only a high school diploma.*

  • Unemployment rates were 2.8% for associate 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 (

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Any student pusuing 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.