Opportunity Scholarship boosts enrollment in New Mexico

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New reports show New Mexico universities are a little more crowded this semester.  

KOB 4 looked into enrollment numbers and found out it’s because of the “Opportunity Scholarship.”

“I really love it I mean I’m on the Opportunity Scholarship I really love that as a New Mexico resident I have the opportunity to go to school for free,” said Lili Kaneshiro, a UNM student.

Kaneshiro is now less worried about how she’s going to cover the costs of nursing school.

“Just shy of 9,200 students received an Opportunity Scholarship, so just shy of 50% of the student system-wide,” said Dr. Reney Scott NMSU vice president of student success. 

UNM Vice President of Enrollment Management, Dan Garcia, said a huge number of students are already taking advantage of the Opportunity Scholarship.

“Across the UNM campuses over 11,000 students new and continuing have benefitted from the Opportunity Scholarship,” said Garcia.

Eastern New Mexico University said its enrollment is up 2.3% overall from fall 2021, and UNM said its enrollment is up this year too.

“Overall total enrollment is up a little over 1.5% so we’re really happy about that,” said Garcia.

The Rio Grande Rivalry is going to grow even more as New Mexico State University grows its enrollment too. 

Scott said NMSU has seen increases in enrollment too.

“So the 2.6% increase on main campus represents a 3.2% increase in our undergraduate students, which brings in one of the largest freshman class we’ve had since 2009, and that level of excitement on campus, it’s just good for everybody,” she said.

UNM also said it’s seen a huge increase in freshmen this semester; incoming first-year students are up 14%.

Garcia said the impact the Opportunity Scholarship is making is becoming evident.

“We are absolutely convinced that the opportunity scholarship made the difference for so many new and continuing students to pursue their education,” he said. 

Scott said the ripple effect will most likely be seen soon as well.

“That frees up money for them to use the Pell grant from the federal government to help with living expenses. And that means they can work a little bit less and focus more on their studies,” she said. 

These are only preliminary numbers from each university, but the New Mexico Higher Education Department said a full report on enrollment can be expected sometime next month.