Freshmen coming to the University of New Mexico may receive free tuition and have their first-year college fees covered through the Lobo First-Year Promise program.

The incoming freshman fall class at UNM's main campus must earn a minimum 2.5 GPA for the 2020-21 academic year, enroll in a minimum of 15 credit hours for the fall and spring, be a New Mexico resident, be a graduate of a New Mexico high school within the past 16 months, submit a 2020-21 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and have a family income of $50,000 a year or less to qualify.

Vice President for Enrollment Management Dan García said New Mexico residents with financial needs will have the resources available to cover tuition and fees through the scholarship. He also said the scholarship will give greater assurance to students who may not believe they can afford a four-year university by showing the University wants them here.



"I think these students are going to do as well or better than students who have come to the University in the past, because one of the greatest concerns about going to college has been the costs," García said. "If we can help support those expenses, I do believe it's going to improve the persistence of students."

García said the First-Year Promise will be paid for with existing resources, such as state and federal grant aid, as well as institutional scholarships and institutional grant aid. This includes private donations raised through the UNM Foundation, according to the scholarship's website.

"The University of New Mexico sets aside 20% of tuition to go towards institutional grant aid for students, so there's a substantial amount of resources there that we already give to students," García said. "So we're going to allocate that accordingly to those first-year students that are eligible for the Lobo First-Year Promise, some of those resources."

The scholarship comes on the heels of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham's Opportunity Scholarship, which rendered two-year public colleges free for eligible residents in 2021 rather than her original intention of covering tuition for all post-secondary institutions in the state.

News of UNM's First-Year Promise quickly spread across the city. The University has reached out to a significant number of schools to promote the scholarship, García said.

Lorraine Chavez, a counselor at Rio Rancho High School, said she was excited to announce the Lobo First-Year Promise to her school.

"We are promoting it through our website and sending weekly links through our 'Parent Family Messengers,'" Chavez said.

Valerie Velhagen, the college and career readiness counselor at Eldorado High School, said even though the message is only beginning to get out to students, she is hoping students will soon become more interested in the program.

"I did have a few parents respond to the mass email I sent to the senior class as soon as the Promise was announced, but students haven't started asking me details yet," Velhangen said.

Chavez said students and parents are excited by the news of the Lobo First-Year Promise but still have questions about the admission process.

Chavez said the most asked question from her school was whether students have to maintain the minimum 2.5 GPA.

Velhagen also said a parent wasn't sure how it worked in conjunction with the higher-level academic scholarships that her daughter had already been awarded.

On the whole, prospective freshmen applying to UNM's main campus can expect to be automatically considered for the Lobo First-Year Promise, so long as they complete the 2020-21 FAFSA no later than April 30.

Amanda Britt is the photo editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at photoeditor@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @AmandaBritt__

Cameron Ward is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @xx_cameo_xx