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NMSU system sees surge in first-year enrollment for fall 2022

  • NMSU’s Las Cruces campus enrollment is 14,268 students in fall 2022, an increase of 2.6% over last year
  • NMSU Grants grew by 19.2% to 825 students
  • NMSU Alamogordo s increased by 9.1% to 1,032 students
  • Doña Ana Community College, grew by 3.2% to 6,662 students

The New Mexico State University system enrolled its largest freshman class since 2009 this fall, driven by an expansion in eligibility for the state’s Opportunity Scholarship, along with tech-based initiatives aimed at boosting recruitment and retention. Enrollment is up at each campus, though the systemwide year-to-year enrollment number went down. That’s because enrollment at the former NMSU-Carlsbad campus, now an independent college, is no longer reported by the NMSU system in 2022.

Each of the remaining campuses reported enrollment increases over last year. NMSU’s Las Cruces campus counted 14,268 students, an increase of 2.6%. That includes 11,591 undergraduate students, up by 3.2% over the previous fall. Of those, 2,328 are first-time freshmen – a surge of 15.7% over the previous year and the biggest class since fall 2009.

NMSU Grants grew by 19.2% to 825 students. NMSU Alamogordo increased by 9.1% to 1,032 students, while NMSU’s largest 2-year campus, Doña Ana Community College, grew by 3.2% to 6,662 students.

NMSU had a total of 21,210 students across all campuses on Sept. 3, the university’s fall 2022 census date. That's a decrease of 2.2% from the number recorded the previous year systemwide, when the Carlsbad campus reported enrollment of 1,361 students.

Vice President for Student Success Renay Scott said the increased availability of the Opportunity Scholarship has resulted in more enrollment not only from new students, but students who are being readmitted after taking time off.

“Those readmitted students are up 64.8%. These are students who left us at some point in the last two years, and because they were in good standing, the Opportunity Scholarship really gave them the financial confidence they needed to re-enter college,” Scott said.

Preliminary data indicates more than 6,000 NMSU students systemwide benefitted from Opportunity Scholarship, but more detailed numbers will be available later in the semester.

Scott said another benefit of the Opportunity Scholarship is that it provides a bridge for students coming straight from high school whose Lottery Scholarship won’t kick in until they have one semester under their belt to earn a qualifying grade-point average.

“The Opportunity Scholarship is making college attractive for those direct from high school students who were worried about how to pay for that first semester while also dealing with the pressure of performing well in their classes,” she said. “I think it gave many of those students the confidence to say yes to college.”

While the Opportunity Scholarship is part of the reason for NMSU’s enrollment boost, Scott said, it’s not the whole story. She credits a campuswide effort to create a robust, exciting and personalized college experience for students.

“Students are really looking for the more personalized experience that we give at NMSU,” she said. “We’ve provided strong student success support, like supplying new first-time students with a technology device to support their success over all four years. The outstanding academics we have, the excellent and personable faculty, and the smaller class sizes make us very appealing as an institution.”

Scott said students are drawn to the activities and opportunities on campus that make college life exciting. Everything from e-sports and club soccer to faith-based groups and Greek life can help attract students who are searching for the academic program and support they need and the social activities that they enjoy.

“This enrollment success has been an entire campus effort,” she said. “From our Facilities and Services team to those that directly serve students in areas like housing, recruitment, academics – it’s really been a complete team effort and I really do think that makes a difference. Families see that we’re all in on wanting students here and being there to support them in any way possible.”

Scott said that’s also reflected in the university’s preliminary retention data, which shows a slight increase. “To move that retention rate up is really important. It shows that the different ways in which we’re supporting our students are working.”

In addition, NMSU Online saw an increase of 30.4% over last fall and is now serving nearly 1,600 adult online learners. NMSU System Chancellor Dan Arvizu praised the collaborative effort that has led to significant growth in online programming in recent years.

“We could not be happier with these results,” Arvizu said. “It shows that our combined efforts to meet our students’ needs, both on campus and online, are paying off.”