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NMSU enrollment up at all campuses, reaches pre-pandemic level in Las Cruces


Unofficial enrollment numbers for the New Mexico State University system show an increase of nearly 3% systemwide over last fall, with enrollment at the Las Cruces campus surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

While enrollment data is still being finalized and is subject to change, preliminary data from the university’s fall census date of Sept. 1 shows a systemwide headcount for fall 2023 of 21,829 – a 2.9% increase over fall 2022.

That unduplicated headcount includes 14,794 undergraduate and graduate students at NMSU’s Las Cruces campus, an increase of 3.7% over fall 2022. First-time freshman class enrollment is up 3.4% over fall 2022, with 2,410 students. Undergraduate continuing student enrollment is 7,915, which is 5.4% higher than fall 2022. Las Cruces campus enrollment surpassed its pre-pandemic fall 2019 level of 14,296 by nearly 3.5%.

NMSU Global, the university’s fully online campus, now has more than 2,100 students – a 32.8% increase over fall 2022.

NMSU’s community colleges also saw enrollment increases this fall. NMSU Alamogordo has 1,091 students enrolled, up 5.5% over fall 2022, while NMSU Grants has 837 students enrolled, an increase of 4.5% – which also puts the Grants campus enrollment above its pre-pandemic level. The largest community college campus, Doña Ana Community College, has 6,871 students enrolled, up 2.9% over last fall.

NMSU Community College Chancellor Mónica Torres said the enrollment growth is welcome news for the communities served by those campuses after pandemic-driven decline in those numbers.

“There was severe enrollment loss at the NMSU community colleges during the pandemic,” Torres said. “It was heartbreaking to see so many community college students lose valuable educational opportunities to the circumstances COVID dropped in our collective laps. As students and families experience recovered – and continue to recover – from those very challenging conditions, the NMSU community colleges are now experiencing enrollment gains. That is good news for our students and our communities.”

Renay Scott, NMSU’s vice president for Student Success, said the enrollment boost was driven in part by the Opportunity Scholarship, which covers full tuition and fees for New Mexico residents pursuing credit-bearing career training certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees at any of the state’s public colleges and universities. In addition to boosting enrollment, Scott said the scholarship has had a positive impact on students’ persistence.

“The Opportunity Scholarship has improved retention, because it makes financing college predictable,” Scott said. “We’ve seen fewer students with outstanding balances and our students have less loan debt. Going to college is a full-time job for most students, and the Opportunity Scholarship has taken the pressure off for a lot of students who would otherwise have to take time off to save for tuition costs.”

Scott said the university has been working hard to ensure that students have the support they need to make it through to graduation. Programs like the Aggie Launch Pad are helping to remove some of the barriers to success that students experience. The initiative provides a laptop and additional digital literacy training and workshops to make the most of the technology.

“We’re investing in their success by letting them select their laptop,” Scott said. “Not all of our students would have access to that kind technology outside of our campus computer labs. Having a device with them at home gives them the technological capacity they need to complete assignments when their time allows.”

Programs offered through NMSU’s Student Success Center provide tutoring and mentoring services, financial literacy programming, career development, graduate school planning, and support for first-generation college students – all with a goal of getting students to the finish line in earning their degrees.

The Opportunity Scholarship has also been a boon to programs like the Aggie Capstone Graduation Challenge, designed for students who have achieved senior-level status at the NMSU Las Cruces campus but did not complete a bachelor’s degree before stopping out for at least one semester, and who would like to return to NMSU with the goal of graduating.

“The Opportunity Scholarship has opened the doors for a whole new group of students whose decision to stop out was related to funding issues,” said Marissa Fowler, associate director of NMSU’s Center for Academic Advising and Student Support. “Knowing they have secured funding to help with their tuition lets them take the nervous leap of returning to school.

“It’s especially impactful that students can still utilize the Opportunity Scholarship and attend part-time,” Fowler continued. “Many of the Aggie Capstone Graduation Challenge students are balancing work and family obligations along with school, and the option for part-time enrollment helps them set themselves up for success.”

Currently, about 8,472 of NMSU’s students systemwide will benefit from the Opportunity Scholarship during the fall 2023 term, according to Melissa Magnusson, director of Financial Aid. Since its expansion in fall 2022, the scholarship has been awarded to 10,330 NMSU students.

Once fall enrollment data has been fully verified and finalized, it will be available online at