UNM attracts largest-ever incoming class

Photo by Elijah Barela

By Skye McMillon / NM News Port

Enrollment numbers at the University of New Mexico continue breaking records for having the most students in an incoming freshmen class. The number of new students enrolled at UNM this fall was 3,886. This beats the record set last year when freshman enrollment reached 3,649. 

This establishes the “Class of 2027” as the largest-ever first-year cohort in UNM’s 134-year history.

Moreover, this has been the fourth year in a row that there has been a significant increase in the number of first-year students. 

One of the biggest factors driving the higher enrollment is a recent state program called the Opportunity Scholarship, which makes tuition free for some students.

“The Opportunity Scholarship gives students a way to pay for college that wasn’t available before,” said Hannah Kampuis, senior Student Associate at UNM.

“ Before now, the only state scholarship available was the lottery, which was only offered to students fresh out of high school,” Kampuis said. “This (Opportunity Scholarship) allows students from all different parts and walks of life of New Mexico to have an opportunity for that.”

Kampuis said as long as the state continues the Opportunity Scholarship, the numbers may continue to go up. 

“It depends on the state’s willingness to continue the scholarship, but at this point, we don’t know what will happen,” Kampuis said. 

The New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship provides tuition and fee assistance for New Mexico residents who meet eligibility and are seeking a degree. This scholarship covers 100% of tuition and all required fees for New Mexico residents who maintain a grade point average above 2.5. A 4.0 GPA is considered the top of the grade scale.

News Port was curious how the increased enrollment might be affecting UNM — in its facilities, for example.

“Several factors come into play when considering how increasing enrollment affects facility management and construction of new buildings at UNM,” according to Maya Williams, with facilities management. She said as enrollment grows, the University closely monitors space utilization, budget considerations, and sustainability practices. 

While the incoming class is up, overall UNM enrollment continues to hover around 22,000 students in total.

Soon-to-be graduated UNM students file into University Arena during Spring Commencement, May 11, 2019. There were no live UNM commencement ceremonies in 2020. Photo by Michael Marcotte for NM News Port.

“Our approach involves planning construction projects in alignment with the University’s strategic goals,” Williams said. “We also prioritize effective communication and long-term planning, collaborating with various university departments to accommodate future growth while minimizing disruption to campus life.”

Incoming freshmen say they’re happy to be part of this largest cohort of new Lobos

“I’m actually from here, Albuquerque,” said freshman Brayden Jaramillo. “I had the opportunity to apply for the opportunity scholarship. I applied knowing I could get the scholarship and it’s the best thing I could have done because I don’t have to worry about financial things and worry about paying my student loans in the future.”

Jaramillo is pursuing Film and Digital Arts, and hopes to find a career in the film industry.

“I wanted to stay close to home since I’m from here so it worked out perfectly,” he said.