New Mexico Creates Nation’s Largest Trust Fund for Free Tuition

The $959 million Higher Education Trust Fund will support the Opportunity Scholarship and Lottery Scholarship to provide free tuition for all eligible New Mexico residents.
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Published on March 19, 2024
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  • Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Opportunity Scholarship into law in 2022. It provides free tuition to qualifying New Mexicans.
  • According to a press release, there are 42,379 New Mexicans receiving the Opportunity Scholarship.
  • Most Opportunity Scholars are Hispanic, identify as women, are Pell Grant-eligible, and are under 24.

New Mexico is cementing its dedication to free college tuition for all qualifying residents with the nation's largest higher education trust fund.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham established the country's largest higher education trust fund March 5 by signing Senate Bill 159 to guarantee free college tuition to all eligible New Mexico residents.

"By creating this fund, New Mexico is keeping our original promise of tuition-free college for residents and cementing our status as the nation's leader for college equity and access," said Lujan Grisham after signing the bill, according to a press release.

"Our monumental investments from early childhood education to college and career are already making a life-changing difference for tens of thousands of New Mexicans and setting the example for every other state."

The $959 million Higher Education Trust Fund will support state financial aid programs, including the Lottery Scholarship and the recent Opportunity Scholarship.

The release said 42,379 New Mexicans are receiving the Opportunity Scholarship, a tuition-free scholarship signed into law by Lujan Grisham in 2022.

According to research by the state's higher education department, Opportunity Scholars are 8% more likely to stay in school than those who do not receive it. Most recipients are Hispanic, identify as women, are Pell Grant-eligible, and are under 24.

Since the program began, the number of students earning short-term, career-training certificates rose by 39%.

During the first fall of the Opportunity Scholarship, over 34,000 students received this scholarship, and 10,000 received the education lottery scholarship. New Mexico saw the second-highest enrollment increase in fall 2022 behind New Hampshire, fighting the national downward college enrollment trends.

To qualify for the Opportunity Scholarship, you must:

  • Be a New Mexico resident
  • Enroll in a state public college or university
  • Enroll in at least six credit hours but no more than 18
  • Maintain at least a 2.5 GPA while enrolled

To qualify for the Lottery Scholarship, you must:

  • Enroll full time at a New Mexico public college or university within 16 months of high school graduation or completion of a certificate
  • Maintain a 2.5 GPA while enrolled in a college or university