Best New Mexico Colleges & Universities

Become Team
Become Team
November 19, 2020

LearnHowToBecome.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

New Mexico has a diverse system of higher education that includes large and small, public and private, land grant and research, technical training and tribal institutions. Before they select a college, prospective students need to be informed consumers. In this guide, students and their parents can learn about statewide college planning resources, use a search tool to compare colleges in New Mexico, read individual college profiles and gain a better understanding of the true cost of postsecondary education in the state.

New Mexico College Leaderboard: Rankings

New Mexico has more than 30 institutions of higher education and we have compiled a list of the state’s best colleges. By examining a series of factors, such as tuition, student-to-teacher ratios and graduation rates, the prospective students can use the following list to gauge the quality of the institution they may want to attend and make a realistic decision about which college to choose.

Rankings Methodology Minimum Qualifications
  • Located in New Mexico
  • Public or private not-for-profit
  • Institutionally accredited
  • At least 10 total programs
Ranking Metrics
  • Median annual alumni earnings 10 years after entering the college
  • In-state tuition and fees for undergraduates
  • Student/teacher ratio
  • 6-year graduation rate
  • % of students receiving institutional financial aid (first-time, full-time undergrads)
  • Average amount of institutional aid awarded per student (first-time, full-time undergrads)
  • Availability of placement services upon completion
  • Availability of academic/career counseling services
  • Availability of employment services
  • 3-year student cohort loan default rate
Data Sources

Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS): National Center for Education Statistics

Latest 'Final Release' data available as of Fall 2016 College Scorecard: U.S. Department of Education

2-Year Programs

San Juan College View School Profile $ 13% 99.8 $30,700 20:1 28% N/A 4 115 Yes Yes
Santa Fe Community College View School Profile $ 9% 99.25 $30,700 15:1 8% N/A 0 142 Yes Yes
New Mexico State University – Alamogordo View School Profile $ 9% 99.09 $33,800 16:1 41% N/A 1 39 Yes No
Eastern New Mexico University – Roswell Campus View School Profile $ 20% 99.03 $30,200 14:1 5% N/A 5 112 Yes Yes
New Mexico Junior College View School Profile $ 18% 99.03 $28,100 18:1 34% N/A 5 40 Yes Yes
Central New Mexico Community College View School Profile $ 11% 98.32 $30,200 24:1 15% N/A 1 138 Yes Yes
New Mexico State University – Carlsbad View School Profile $ 4% 98.32 $33,800 19:1 32% N/A 1 29 Yes No
New Mexico State University – Dona Ana View School Profile $ 12% 98.2 $33,800 23:1 7% N/A 4 91 Yes No
University of New Mexico – Valencia County Campus View School Profile $ 8% 97.91 $35,900 22:1 6% N/A 0 32 Yes No
Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso Campus View School Profile $ 19% 97.53 $30,200 14:1 4% N/A 1 32 No Yes
Clovis Community College View School Profile $ 9% 97.47 $25,800 19:1 12% N/A 8 64 No No
Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute View School Profile $ 7% 96.43 $20,500 16:1 N/A N/A 1 24 Yes No
Luna Community College View School Profile $ 19% 86.83 $23,800 17:1 15% N/A 1 52 Yes No
Mesalands Community College View School Profile $ 32% 86 $18,200 15:1 38% N/A 1 33 No Yes

4-Year Programs

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology View School Profile $ 47% 99.58 $52,800 14:1 79% 36% 0 38 Yes No
New Mexico Highlands University View School Profile $ 16% 95.06 $35,100 13:1 66% N/A 3 53 Yes No
New Mexico State University-Main Campus View School Profile $ 44% 93.96 $33,800 17:1 39% 70% 11 139 Yes No
University of New Mexico-Main Campus View School Profile $ 45% 92.99 $35,900 19:1 58% 45% 0 162 Yes No
University of the Southwest View School Profile $$ 22% 89.44 $40,600 17:1 98% N/A 27 61 No No
Northern New Mexico College View School Profile $ N/A 89.28 $27,400 10:1 13% N/A 0 14 Yes No
Western New Mexico University View School Profile $ 16% 86.83 $31,200 16:1 26% N/A 15 56 Yes No
Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus View School Profile $ 29% 86 $30,200 19:1 42% 63% 12 57 Yes No

Explore & Research New Mexico Colleges

Students interested in attending a college in New Mexico have a variety of options to consider, including large research-focused public institutions to small, professionally oriented community colleges. To better align their academic needs to potential schools, students can use the search tool below to compare institutions based on their location, student enrollment, tuition and acceptance rates.

College Readiness Programs in New Mexico

The process of enrolling in college begins well before students set foot on campus. Beyond selecting a school, students need to know how they can pay for their education and be prepared to meet the rigors of postsecondary academics. In New Mexico, a wide range of different preparation, financial aid and educational support programs are available to help students as they start thinking about heading to college.

Gear Up New Mexico

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is funded by the US Department of Education and administered by the New Mexico Higher Education Department. Operating in 12 school districts, the goal of the program is to increase the number of students attending college in New Mexico and improve access to educational opportunities for all students. The program currently serves 11,000 students across 25 schools and has partnerships with groups including the New Mexico Education Assistance Foundation and the University of New Mexico Gateway Program.

New Mexico Scholars

New Mexico Scholars is a specialized scholarship program sponsored by the New Mexico Higher Education Department. It is designed to encourage high school graduates in the state to enroll as a full-time undergraduate student at a public or private university before they turn 21. Applicants must be a resident of New Mexico, graduate in the top five percent of their class (or achieve minimum SAT/ACT scores), and meet family income requirements. Scholarships are for one year and may be renewed annually for four years.

Legislative Lottery Scholarships

Sponsored by the New Mexico Lottery, the Legislative Lottery Scholarship is an annual scholarship program funded by the statewide lottery program in the state. Scholarships can be used at all 25 state university and colleges in New Mexico and, since 1966, more than 103,000 students have received lottery scholarships. Graduates of New Mexico high schools (or GED) who enroll in a full-time program of study at a New Mexico college or university are eligible. The scholarship pays nearly $2,500 of tuition per semester and may be renewed up to seven consecutive semesters.

Cost of College in New Mexico

The cost of attendance at New Mexico's two-year and four-year institutions varies widely, influenced by the availability of financial aid, including scholarships and grants. To gain a better understanding of New Mexico college costs and how they measure against national averages, refer to the charts below.

Source: CollegeBoard

Source: IPEDS

Source: IPEDS

* Institutional aid represents grant and scholarship funds directly awarded by a postsecondary institution.

* Financial aid data represents 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Most Affordable Colleges in New Mexico

In light of growing student debt figures nationwide, prospective college students may be afraid of attending a college beyond their means. However, the quality of an institution is not directly tied to its tuition costs. We've compiled a list of the most affordable colleges in New Mexico and the rankings below reveal how those schools stand up against national averages.

New Mexico College Net Price vs. National Average

Average
Annual Net Price
NEW MEXICO $10,618
$18,073

Source: College Scorecard
Note: Rankings/data represent 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

New Mexico Colleges with Highest Alumni Earnings

Graduating from college could mean a $100,000 or more investment. Before selecting a school, it's important to understand the type of return you'll receive on that investment. Learn more about the top colleges in the state that produce the highest earning alumni and how those alumni compare to the national average.

New Mexico Alumni Salaries vs. National Average

Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After Entering College
NEW MEXICO $32,727
$42,759

Source: College Scorecard
Note: Rankings/data represent 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Colleges in New Mexico With Least Alumni Debt

Data from the US Department of Education reveals New Mexico college graduates have the highest student loan default rates in the country. Students preparing for college should have a real understanding of how much attending college will cost and what their career potential will be. To help, we've ranked the six schools in New Mexico that graduate students with the lowest average debt amounts.

New Mexico College Grad Debt Vs. National Average

Median Federal Student
Loan Debt After Graduation
NEW MEXICO $18,420
$23,145

Source: College Scorecard
Note: Rankings/data represent 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

New Mexico Cost of Living: College Expenses Beyond Tuition

New Mexico offers a favorable cost of living, according to the New Mexico Partnership, spurred by low property taxes, affordable home prices and practical utility rates. Attending college in a location that has lower living expenses means more money may be able to go to the total costs of going to school. To that end, students can use the table below to learn about the cost-of-living rates not only for the state, but the five largest metropolitan areas as well.

area composite index housing groceries utilities transportation health care misc.
Statewide Average 96% 93% 96% 89% 106% 93% 98%
Carlsbad 90% 85% 95% 87% 104% 91% 88%
Las Cruces 97% 98% 100% 90% 100% 88% 98%
Los Alamos 103% 110% 94% 90% 98% 99% 106%
Rio Rancho 95% 80% 96% 88% 122% 94% 99%

Source: The Council for Community and Economic Research

Accreditation for New Mexico Colleges

For prospective students, accreditation is a factor to consider alongside program availability and average tuition. Accreditation by a nationally approved agency ensures the student receives a quality education from an institution that adheres to recognized academic criteria and performance. The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is the regional accreditation body that reviews and accredits higher education programs in the state of New Mexico. While HLC accredits at the institutional level, individual academic programs also undergo regular accrediting reviews. Below are two examples of program-based accrediting programs.

Popular College Cities in New Mexico

Albuquerque

The largest city in the state, Albuquerque is home to an educated population: 38 percent of residents have an associate, bachelor's, graduate or professional degree. The city has a diverse higher education system that includes four-year public universities, two-year community colleges and tribal colleges. Anchored by the University of New Mexico, more than 60,000 college students attend higher education institutions across the region, according to the Albuquerque Economic Development. A low cost-of-living, coupled with competitive tuition rates make Albuquerque an academic destination to consider.

College Name School Type Annual Net Price Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After College

Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

AlbuquerqueCentral New Mexico Community College Public $3,961 $30,200
The state's largest community college, Central New Mexico Community College serves more than 30,000 students. It has seven locations across the Albuquerque region, including the Workforce Training Center that offers professional development programs, individualized job training and industry certifications. The college offers training programs, certificates and associate degrees through its six schools: applied technologies; business and information technology; communication, humanities and social sciences; adult and general education; health, wellness and public safety; and mathematics, science and engineering.
AlbuquerqueSouthwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute Public $8,347 $20,500
Located in the heart of New Mexico's high-tech corridor, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute offers certificate, associate and distance education programs for American Indian and Alaskan Native Students. Operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and founded in 1971, the institute received community college status in 1993. Academic programs are available on-campus and through distance education in areas ranging from advanced technical education to liberal arts, to business education and developmental/adult education.
AlbuquerqueUniversity of New Mexico Public $8,126 $35,900
The University of New Mexico is the state's flagship higher education institution with an enrollment of nearly 35,000 students across its campuses. Founded in 1889, the university has an 800-acre campus and employs approximately 27,000 people throughout the state. It holds the distinction of being the only Hispanic-serving University classified as a Carnegie Institution with very high research activity. Academically, the University of New Mexico offers more than 215 certificate and degree programs, including 94 bachelor's, 71 master's and 37 doctoral degree programs.
Las Cruces

The second largest city in the state, Las Cruces is a city with a growing technology and aerospace industry that offers some of the country's lowest cost-of-living. Nearly 34 percent of the city's population over the age of 25 hold a bachelor's degree or higher, according to the US Census Bureau. Enrollment continues to increase at the region's two major higher education institutions, with approximately 25,000 students attending New Mexico State University and Dona Anna Community College. Economical in-state tuition rates for both a two- and four-year education, along with cost-of-living that's below national averages mean Las Cruces is a competitive location to earn a degree.

College Name School Type Annual Net Price Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After College

Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

Las CrucesNew Mexico State University Public $10,158 $33,800
A public land-grant institution, New Mexico State University sits on a 900-acre campus and serves students across five campuses, cooperative extension offices, agriculture research and science centers and a satellite learning space in Albuquerque. Students may select from nearly 200 undergraduate and graduate programs, including 56 master's and 27 doctoral degree programs.
Las CrucesNew Mexico State University - Dona Ana Public $6,197 $33,800
Established in 1973, Dona Ana Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The college offers small student classes (18:1 student-to-teacher ratios) and 53 academic programs at the associate and certificate level. Majors range from aerospace technology to dental hygiene, health information technology to welding technology. In addition to its robust on-campus degree programs, the college also provides online classes and a series of adult basic education courses.

Source: College Scorecard

New Mexico College Resources

There is a range of government, educational and nonprofit services and resources available to students considering attending college in New Mexico. Below is a series of example resources we have assembled to assist your decision-making process.

Albuquerque Community Foundation

The Albuquerque Community Foundation supports higher education by providing 18 different student aid and scholarship programs to New Mexico residents.

New Mexico College and Career Readiness Bureau

A service of the New Mexico Department of Education, the New Mexico College and Readiness Bureau offers a range of services and resources to take students from secondary into postsecondary education.

New Mexico Education Assistance Foundation(NMEAF)

A nonprofit organization created by the New Mexico Legislature, the NMEAF provides and services student loans for students in the state, operates college-planning events and sponsors outreach days in conjunction with public colleges.

New Mexico Higher Education Department

The New Mexico Higher Education Department is the agency that oversees the higher education system in New Mexico and offers an array of information about college readiness, saving for colleges, grants and scholarships and student loans.

NMKnowledge4College.org

A website that provides college preparation information, hosts FAFSA workshops and offers career planning and support services.

University of New Mexico College Prep Program

Sponsored by the University of New Mexico, the College Prep Program is a mentoring program for high school seniors that includes monthly seminars, summer sessions, career exploration and community programs.

Become Team
Become Team
Contributing Writer

LearnHowToBecome.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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