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Although the Land of Enchantment lacks the sprawling public university systems of its neighbor to the east, it does keep college costs low, making the state an attractive place to study for four years. We’ll tell you which schools offer online degrees, how to graduate early without paying anything, and where you can take distance ed classes in high school. We’ll also inform you of several schools with shaky accreditation status. You’re already one step closer to choosing a New Mexico online college!
The New Mexico Higher Education Department is responsible for the state’s four-year universities and community colleges. While you’ll occasionally find online degrees at one of the latter, such as Clovis Community College, the best place to look is a four-year university. Six of the seven state-run universities — Eastern New Mexico University, New Mexico Highlands University, New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology, New Mexico State University, University of New Mexico and Western New Mexico University — hand out distance ed degrees.
The best way to save money on college in New Mexico is to start in high school. Why? Through the state’s Dual Credit program, all New Mexico secondary schoolers can take classes from public colleges and earn high school and college credit simultaneously. Even better, New Mexico law mandates that public colleges must waive tuition and that local education agencies — public school districts, charter schools or Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools — must cover textbooks. You’re just responsible for fees, which vary by institution, and are sometimes waived altogether. Talk to your school administrator to see if you qualify.
So, what courses can you take? It all depends on where you’re enrolled in high school, as each district or school crafts its own agreement with individual colleges. Many of the classes are online. Find a complete list of approved courses at the New Mexico Public Education Department website. There’s no limit to the amount of courses you can enroll in, so it’s possible to finish a year of college before you even arrive!
The Dual Credit program is designed for aspiring collegians, but the state has another distance education route for all K-12 students: Ideal New Mexico. All IDEAL-NM courses are asynchronously delivered and give students 18 weeks to complete them, which can benefit learners who feel stymied within traditional classroom structures or who want to speed up the process. With summer courses on the schedule, you have even more options.
Since the Land of Enchantment is fairly spread out, Ideal New Mexico is also a good option for students from rural schools with limited class offerings. You’ll find all the typical general ed courses as well as language classes and Advanced Placement courses, which can earn you college credit. Check out the course catalog for a full list. The cost? Free for certain courses, but not necessarily all. Contact your school to verify its policy.
New Mexico may not have the distance education program you’re looking for. But if you’re from there, it would be a shame to miss out on some of the cheapest in-state tuition rates in the country, wouldn’t it?
With the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), you can feel a little better about your decision to study out of state. That’s because WICHE runs two initiatives that allow New Mexicans to benefit from reduced tuition. WICHE’s Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), lets you attend participating colleges in 14 Western states while paying no more than 150 percent of that school’s resident tuition. The Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP), meanwhile, brings tuition down all the way to the resident rate, but there are fewer qualifying programs.
Want into New Mexico? WUE and WGRP go both ways. Twelve New Mexico public colleges charge students from WICHE states the reduced rate.
You can never be too careful when enrolling in an online college. In the early days of distance learning, con men made a small fortune touting worthless credentials from fly-by-night schools. Here are the simple steps you should take to make sure your intended school is legit:
If your school isn’t listed in the CHEA database, you should probably give it a pass. Even if it is, it might still have some issues. We’ve found a few institutions you should know about:
American Century University, which advertises online programs, does not mention its accreditation status on its website. That’s because it’s not accredited. It isn’t in the CHEA database or on College Scorecard, and you won’t qualify for federal or state aid to attend.
Carrington College is a for-profit chain based out of California. It’s accredited in good standing by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, a regional accreditor for California and several Pacific islands. Before enrolling at Carrington, however, you should know that in 2016 the Federal Trade Commission sued its parent company, DeVry Education Group, for deceptive marketing practices related to its DeVry University wing. The group settled the lawsuit for $100 million.
HLC placed New Mexico Highlands University, which offers several online degrees, on probation in 2016 because the university was out of compliance in areas “related to staffing and institutional support, assessment of student learning, student retention and completion rates, governance, and institutional planning.” New Mexico Highlands remains accredited while on probation and will work to comply with HLC standards. Read HLC’s public disclosure notice here.
Business students, educators, and registered nurses will find online programs geared toward their education and career advancement offered online at New Mexico Highlands University. The only undergraduate program available online is an RN to BSN program for registered nurses. Applicants have a choice of taking classes as full-time or part-time students. Full-time students enter the program in the fall, while part-time students can enter in the spring or fall. Highlands also offers an MBA program that students can complete entirely online. The program is accredited by the ACBSP and offers concentrations in accounting, finance, international business, management, management information systems, or human resource management. Three Master of Arts in Education programs are offered online. Those programs are curriculum and instruction, rehabilitation counseling, and special education The M.A. programs require students to complete 36 credits, except for the rehabilitation counseling program, which requires 48 credits. The curriculum and instruction program covers a variety of academic content areas with an emphasis on either elementary or secondary education.
Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission