Financial Aid Programs

 Financial Aid for New Mexico Students 

Financial aid is money to supplement what you and your family can afford to pay for your education. It may be used for tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, meal plans, and other educational expenses. Your eligibility for financial aid depends on several factors, such as your personal and family income and the school's cost. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the U.S. Department of Education's application for federal and state student aid programs. You must complete and submit this form yearly in order to receive any type of financial aid: grants, work-study, or loans.

There are two categories of financial aid:

  • Need-Based - includes grants, loans, work-study and certain scholarships.
  • Non-Need-Based - includes certain loans, work-study, and scholarships.

Grants and scholarships typically don't have to be repaid.  Some common federal grants are the Federal Pell Grant and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG).

Learn more about Federal Student Aid programs from Student Aid on the Web.

Learn more about New Mexico student aid programs from the New Mexico Higher Education Department.

Scholarships are available for students with academic, athletic, artistic or other special qualifications, and are available from both public and private sources. Some scholarships are based on financial need, but others are not. Usually, there are different applications for each scholarship. Your high school counselor and the financial aid office at the college you will be attending are great resources for scholarship information.

The state of New Mexico offers the Legislative Lottery Scholarship, College Affordability Grant, New Mexico Student Incentive Grant and Student Choice Grant.

Learn more about the scholarship process.

Work-study does not need to be repaid. Both Federal and New Mexico work-study programs are available. Work-study is part-time employment on or off campus. Depending on your award, you may work up to 20 hours per week. Plus, you may have a chance to work in an area related to your major.

Some common loans are the Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Direct Stafford Loan and Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) and Grad-PLUS Loans for Graduate Students.

Student loans are one form of financial aid, so to receive a loan, follow the financial aid process.

  1. Confirm you are eligible. Students must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment on at least a half-time basis in a program leading to a certificate or degree at an eligible school.
  2. Apply for financial aid by completing the FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
  3. Review your Student Aid Report (SAR) and verify the information is accurate. The SAR summarizes the information from your FAFSA and provides your financial aid eligibility. The SAR is also forwarded to the financial aid office at the school(s) you selected when completing your FAFSA.
  4. Provide additional information requested by the school financial aid office, so they can determine your eligibility and award you financial aid.
  5. Review your financial aid award package and discuss student loan opportunities with financial aid office staff.

To receive financial aid, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment on at least a half-time basis in a program leading to a certificate or degree at an eligible school.
  • Demonstrate financial need for need-based aid programs, not be in default or owe a refund on any federal aid program. Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress.*
  • If required, registration with Selective Service.

* Check with the financial aid office at your school for Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements.

Student loans make a lot of sense when it comes to financing your education. However, before you borrow from any student loan program, be sure to investigate all sources of student aid that do not have to be repaid such as grants, scholarships, and employment opportunities. These gift, or free aid programs, and employment opportunities can help to reduce the amount that you will need to borrow, while you are pursuing your educational goal.

While repayment of your student loan doesn't begin until six months after you leave school or drop below half-time enrollment status, it's important to understand that what you borrow each year will have an impact on you and your lifestyle for years to come. You don't want to overburden yourself with debt and graduate from school owing more than you can afford to repay.

Here are a few tips:

  • Manage your student loan debt by deciding how much you can afford to borrow and how much you can realistically repay.
  • Keep track of how much you owe. Track your student loans using the U.S. Department of Education's central database for student aid records, the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).

A word of caution - Many credit card companies are soliciting business by offering college students credit cards, usually at high interest rates with annual fees. Students may find themselves overburdened with debt. Be aware of these types of credit card offers. If you find yourself in trouble, Consumer Credit Counseling can provide a way out. Visit their website at www.cccssouthwest.org for more information.