Bridges encourages all recent and soon-to-be New Mexico high school and GED/HSE graduates to add at least one New Mexico institution to their list.
The Learning Curve article in the October 11-17 issue of The Taos News discussed different types of postsecondary education and how to create a college list comprised of varyingly selective schools. Bridges encourages all recent and soon-to-be New Mexico high school and GED/HSE graduates to add at least one New Mexico institution to their list. College applicants who hope to attend out-of-state schools should investigate WUE schools, as are described later in this article.
In-state, Public Colleges
Why apply to an in-state two or four-year college or university? These public colleges, unlike private schools, have a mandate to serve the residents and communities in their state. Residents are charged lower tuition and given broader opportunities to attain grants and scholarships that increase affordability.
In our state, the New Mexico Higher Education Department offers high school and GED/HSE graduates an additional program intended to increase access and completion - and decrease student loan debt - called the Legislative Lottery Scholarship, or the "lottery scholarship."
All New Mexico residents who have recently graduated from a New Mexico high school or with a NM GED/HSE are eligible for the lottery scholarship. It pays a percentage of tuition at both two and four-year not-for-profit public schools in New Mexico although the scholarship amount varies from one school to another. In 2017 the lottery scholarship program gave almost $60 million to New Mexico college students.
Students must enroll full time, either taking 12 credit hours at a two-year college or 15 credit hours at a four-year college, while maintaining a 2.5 minimum GPA during their first semester and throughout their academic career. Consequently, this scholarship begins during the second semester of their first college year.
Eligible students will receive the lottery scholarship up to three semesters at two-year schools and seven semesters at four-year schools in pursuit of a bachelor's degree. Students have up to 16 months from graduation or completion of their GED/HSE to enroll full time in a New Mexico college or university.
Students with disabilities may qualify for reduced credit hour requirements and additional semesters to complete their education. They can apply for these accommodations directly through the financial aid department of the postsecondary institution they attend.
Students who join the military within four months of high school completion are also eligible within 16 months of completion of honorable service or medical discharge. To learn more about the lottery scholarship, visit hed.state.nm.us/students/lotteryscholarship.aspx
Western Undergraduate Exchange
The Western Undergraduate Exchange program gives qualified New Mexico high school graduates and recent GED/HSE recipients the opportunity to attend one of 160 two or four-year public colleges and universities in 16 western U.S. states and territories. Students pay 150 percent of in-state tuition, rather than out-of-state tuition, which can average two to three times more than that school's in-state tuition. To learn about eligibility requirements and whether a school and major qualifies for WUE tuition, visit the WUE website. wiche.edu/wue
To explore the admissions and financial aid process - or learn more about preparing for college - visit the Resources page at bridgesproject.org. For assistance through any or all the steps call (575) 758-5074 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Bridges to schedule an appointment.
Mackenzi Frederick is a college counselor and development coordinator at Bridges Project for Education. Bridges has offered free, individualized college counseling services since 1997.
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