NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico are raising tuition for the 2023 school year. This comes within weeks of the governor signing the opportunity scholarship into law giving free college tuition to New Mexicans.

There’s concern this hike will not only affect that fund but the lottery scholarship fund as well. The state’s higher education department is worried about the increase stating we have to work with the universities to make sure everyone in the state has a chance to take advantage of these programs. “A 4% increase in tuition for their undergraduate students. It’s disappointing,” said state Representative Joy Garratt (D).

Less than a month after the governor signed the opportunity scholarship in action, New Mexico State University raised tuition by nearly 4% and the University of New Mexico by 3%. “Raising the cost of tuition for students should always be the last resort for balancing the books at New Mexico colleges and universities because of the other revenue sources outside of state that comes into those colleges,” said Stephanie Rodriguez, Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Higher Education Department.

The opportunity scholarship allows all New Mexicans seeking a college education full coverage on tuition and fees in conjunction with the lottery scholarship. Lawmakers fear with state universities approving tuition increases, it could affect the amount of money in these programs resulting in a loss of scholarships.

This scenario has happened before with the lottery scholarship. Six years ago, the scholarship handed out less money because of tuition hikes. “It’s again going to make it a case where the amount of money will be divided up among the number of applicants, high school grads, and it may mean that they won’t get full funding for their tuition,” said Rep. Garratt.

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Last year, the state-approved in its budget $130 million of federal money to fully fund the lottery scholarship for the next four years.  The opportunity scholarship is funded with $75 million price tag for the year and a half.

The question is, how will the tuition hikes affect funding, and what will come of the opportunity scholarship after the money runs out in 18 months? “We need the collaboration of higher education institutions and partners to make sure that tuition-free college can always remain an option for New Mexicans for years to come,” said Secretary Rodriguez.

The state says they can’t control tuition rates of school but hope colleges and universities in New Mexico will make rates reasonable. The tuition hikes for NMSU and UNM go into effect next school year.