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By offering diverse fields of study and flexible course scheduling, accredited online colleges in New Mexico empower students to earn their degrees even if they have work and family obligations. Distance education also comes with affordable tuition prices and ample financial aid opportunities, like need-based state grants, institutional scholarships, and private awards. Because of these benefits, learners increasingly pursue online learning. According to the Digital Learning Compass , New Mexico operates 44 degree-granting higher education institutions, which collectively enroll 138,189 students as of 2015. Approximately 39% of students take at least one online course, a rate that exceeds the national average by 9%. Furthermore, over 16% of New Mexico college students take online classes exclusively.
To help prospective students find the best online colleges in New Mexico to match their financial needs and professional goals, this guide provides in-depth academic information. Students gain insight on program structure, major options, and general costs. The guide also contains data on job growth in New Mexico, so students may train for the most lucrative careers.
Job Outlook for Students with College Degrees in New Mexico
The top online colleges in New Mexico provide career-relevant academics and hands-on training, enabling students to access more job opportunities and higher pay. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that professionals who hold bachelor's credentials earn, on average, $24,000 more in annual salary than professionals who only possess a high school diploma. Bachelor's degree holders also enjoy a lower unemployment rate (2.5%) than individuals who only hold some college experience (4.0%) and professionals with only high school diplomas (4.6%).
As shown in the table below, New Mexico's unemployment rate is higher than the U.S. average. However, BLS back data reveals that 4.6% actually marks a drastic improvement for the state, considering unemployment was 6% twelve months ago. According to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions , Union and Los Alamos counties boast the lowest unemployment rates in the state at 3.8%, while Luna County faces the highest at over 14.1%.
New Mexico workers earn an average annual salary of $44,840, approximately $5,800 less than the average American. However, students should factor in the state's low cost of living and lower average tuition. Payscale notes that even in urban centers like Albuquerque, living expenses fall 5% below the national average. In New Mexico, healthcare professionals, engineers, and information technology specialists earn the highest salaries.
Unemployment Rate, August 2018
Annual Mean Wage, May 2017
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Cost of Online Colleges in New Mexico
New Mexico students attending public two-year schools pay an average annual tuition of $1,840, just half the U.S. average. This price tag is the second lowest in the nation, trailing only California. New Mexico students who enroll at public four-year colleges and universities pay $3,100 less than the average American learner, placing the Land of Enchantment as the fifth least-expensive state for baccalaureate education. On top of affordable tuition rates, New Mexico students benefit from generous funding opportunities, including grants facilitated by the state's higher education department .
Accredited online colleges in New Mexico charge roughly the same tuition prices as traditional institutions. In both cases, two-year schools offer the lowest rates, which incentivizes students to enroll in New Mexico's junior college online courses before transferring to a four-year program. Although distance learners may not save substantial amounts of money on tuition, they can cut costs on housing and course materials.
Many online programs partner with open source learning platforms to offer students free or low-cost textbooks. CollegeBoard reports that students who enroll in traditional academic programs pay $11,400 annually for room and board, a price that actually exceeds the average tuition rate. Because distance learners do not need to reside on campus, they save money by living at home or seeking other accommodations. Online students also save on commuting costs because they rarely, if ever, need to travel to campus.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in New Mexico
New Mexico public universities offer significantly cheaper tuition rates than national averages. However, the difference between in-state and out-of-state prices remain substantial no matter where a student goes to school. Public colleges and universities receive government funding, paid, in part, by residents' tax dollars, which students living outside the state cannot access. In New Mexico, residents pay $13,660 less than out-of-state learners.
Fortunately, the best online colleges in New Mexico often deliver affordable tuition rates that ignore where a student lives. For individuals who can plan far ahead, establishing state residency is the most direct means to cheap tuition. This dedicated process requires candidates to live and work full-time in New Mexico for at least one year.
Lastly, distance learners can tap into discounted tuition prices by engaging with the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE). WICHE facilitates the Western Undergraduate Exchange , which ensures students in the 16 partner states do not pay more than 150% of in-state tuition rates when attending one of the 160 participating colleges and universities. WICHE also operates exchange initiatives for graduate and professional students.
Average Tuition and Fees, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
Financial Aid in New Mexico
Online students may obtain government funding by using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Operating under the U.S. Department of Education, the FAFSA enables candidates to apply for multiple grants, low-interest loans, and work-study opportunities. The FAFSA also helps students and their families understand the college admissions process and develop efficient loan repayment plans after college.
FAFSA applicants must meet basic eligibility criteria , which include U.S. citizenship or acceptable non-citizenship. Unfortunately, this means that undocumented students cannot receive federal funding. Candidates need to submit tax documents and records of untaxed income. FAFSA awards include Federal Pell Grants based on exceptional financial need, the TEACH Grant for prospective educators, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant for students whose parent or guardian died during military service.
Through the FAFSA, students may access loan forgiveness and cancellation opportunities. For example, the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program relieves unsubsidized and subsidized government loans if the candidate agrees to teach at a low-income school for at least five consecutive years. New Mexico operates its own version with the Teacher Loan Repayment Program . The state government also offers loan repayment options for health professionals.
State Grant Aid per Full-Time Equivalent Undergraduate Student, 2016-17
Source: The College Board
Scholarships and Grants for New Mexico College Students
In addition to affordable tuition and ample government aid, students should seek out external scholarships and grants. These opportunities come from private businesses, community organizations, and religious institutions. Learners should also apply for scholarships that target their academic majors and careers. This section contains 10 awards for students pursuing New Mexico online college courses, certificates, and degrees.
Who Can Apply: Candidates must be at least 25 years old. They also need to work at least 20 hours per week while pursuing their college degree and maintain a minimum 2.8 GPA. The award is open to residents of the Bernalillo, Sandoval, Valencia, Torrance, and Santa Fe counties.
Who Can Apply: The New Mexico Baptist Foundation delivers awards to residents pursuing degrees at accredited colleges and universities in the state. Criteria vary, but generally include a minimum 2.5 GPA. Candidates also need to display active participation in their local Baptist church.
Who Can Apply: The New Mexico Alliance for Hispanic Education offers this award to full-time degree seekers. Candidates must be U.S. citizens or eligible permanent residents. They also need to demonstrate Hispanic heritage and possess a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Who Can Apply: Facilitated by the American Advertising Federation-New Mexico, this award supports full-time students enrolled at a public four-year school in the state. Candidates must be in their junior or senior year of undergraduate studies or first year in a graduate program. They also must pursue acceptable majors in areas like strategic communication, business marketing, and advertising.
Who Can Apply: Funded by the New Mexico Library Association, this scholarship is available to full- and part-time students. Candidates must pursue a library and information sciences degree at a school accredited by the American Library Association.
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports state residents who graduated in the top 5% of their high school class. Candidates need to enroll full-time at a New Mexico postsecondary institution before their 21st birthday. They also need to earn at least a 25 on the ACT or 1140 on the SAT.
Amount: Up to full tuition and fees
Who Can Apply: This award is open to residents who graduated from private or public high schools in the state. Candidates must enroll at a public college or university in New Mexico and maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA.
Amount: A percentage of tuition, varying by institution
Best Majors for Online Students in New Mexico
The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions prepared a 2012 report about the occupational outlook for the state through 2022, detailing which careers are projected to grow significantly. It also breaks down occupations by education level and wage growth potential.
Healthcare professionals like registered nurses, physical therapists , and clinical lab technicians rank highly on the report, with growth that align with national trends. Management positions benefit from remarkable increases, particularly in sectors such as operations, data analytics, and medical and health services. Education is also projected to grow, including 440 annual openings for elementary educators. The best online colleges in New Mexico routinely provide accelerated undergraduate programs in these fields, enabling students to earn their bachelor's degrees in two years.
Students who want to maximize earning potential while minimizing academic training may pursue fast-growing positions like industrial machinery mechanic, dental assistant, and aircraft service technician. Community and technical colleges in New Mexico generally offer online degrees in these fields. In addition to classroom instruction, associate programs provide students with hands-on training that prepares them for professional certification/licensure exams.
NursingTo occupy registered nursing positions, professionals need at least a diploma or associate degree. Active nurses often go on to earn their bachelor's and master's, developing leadership skills and pursuing concentrations in areas like midwifery, critical care nursing, and adult-gerontology. Students may also pursue training in education and informatics, which allows them to work as researchers and training coordinators.
Business AdministrationAccredited online colleges in New Mexico deliver business degrees at all levels, including doctoral programs for professionals who want to occupy postsecondary teaching and policy consultation roles. To access management positions, professionals need to cultivate extensive work experience and earn a master of business administration. Online MBA programs offer diverse concentrations in areas like accounting, supply chain management, and digital marketing.
Education/Teacher TrainingProspective educators must earn at least a bachelor's degree to qualify for initial teaching licensure in New Mexico. Although students can complete parts of their undergraduate programs online, teacher training involves classroom practice coordinated with local schools. For experienced teachers, earning a master's degree enables them to apply for advanced licenses and endorsements.
Resources for Online College Students in New Mexico
New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation : A statewide partnership of colleges and universities, NMAMP supports underserved students who want to earn bachelor of science degrees in the STEM disciplines. The alliance provides transfer scholarships and professional development workshops. Students can engage in community college and undergraduate research programs, exploring their academic interests with the support of faculty mentors.
New Mexico Educational Assistance Foundation : This nonprofit organization promotes higher education throughout the state, delivering financial aid guidance and college preparedness programs. Through NMEAF, students can apply for award opportunities (including institutional scholarships) and budget for their education and beyond. The foundation also offers comprehensive loan support, helping students find and manage borrowed funds.
New Mexico Higher Education Department : As the main administrative body for colleges and universities in the state, the HED oversees institutional budgets and conducts research to ensure schools maintain government standards. The department helps students find schools and navigate the admissions process. Students can also take advantage of in-person FAFSA workshops, and the department coordinates general/adult education programming.
New Mexico Workforce Connection : As part of the National Job Center Network, NMWC helps users create engaging resumes and find work through either online listings or in-person job fairs. Professionals can use self-assessment tools to discern marketable skill levels and professional interests. The website also provides guidance for unemployed persons and military veterans. Lastly, students may search for schools and scholarships through NMWC.
Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education : WICHE supports its 16 member states by coordinating research projects, teacher training programs, and collaborative educational technology initiatives. The commission also operates a mental health program aimed at raising awareness and improving related services. Students benefit from discounted tuition rates through institutional exchange programs. With the WICHE Interstate Passport, students can rest assured that their general education credits transfer seamlessly across state borders.
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