NMF visit report, scholarship, housing and general info

My S and I toured UNM back in April, so I’ll be using this thread to collate our visit reports, scholarship and housing information and our on-going experience as a potential National Merit student at the University of New Mexico.

S’s stats:

  • 1490 SAT (760V, 730M)
  • 223 PSAT SSI
  • 6 APs (all 4s and 5s)
  • 3.96 UW/4.5 W
  • ECs: large drama / Thespian spike with leadership, Anime and Writing clubs also with leadership. 100+ volunteer hours in drama, public safety and emergency response (CERT).
  • Phi Theta Kappa with 30+ hours of dual enrollment credits and a 4.0 college GPA.
  • Pre-med with possible majors in Psychology and Theatre.

Keywords for future searchers: UNM, University of New Mexico, Amigo scholarship, Regents scholarship, NMF, National Merit, visit report

University of New Mexico hit all the right notes. S and I loved the Southwestern adobe look of the buildings, and all of them were immaculately maintained. The interior of the library is especially gorgeous, with lofty ceilings and exposed, carved, inlaid beams that appear to be lodgepole pine.

The campus is also an arboretum, so there are lots and lots of trees. S said that for him, the campus architectural vibe was fortress-monastery, and he means that in a good way, having grown up around the California missions. He said the campus also felt like its own small town with enough going on that there wouldn’t really be a reason to leave unless you just wanted to, or for some type of out-doorsy thing such as skiing or hiking.

Housing - Again, everything was very well maintained. The earliest dorm, Hokona, was built in the 1950s (if I remember my tour info accurately!) but didn’t feel dated aside from being the traditional style with group bathrooms down the hall from the rooms.

Doubles in the traditional and suite-style buildings are quite small - small enough that I’ve strongly suggested to my introverted S that he (we!) pay the extra money for a single. Additionally, the suite-style doubles are clusters of three doubles with one bathroom between them, so not really what you would think of as a suite.

The 4-bed/1 bath and 6-bed/2-bath apartments were pretty sweet. Far and away S’s favorite. The housing staff was super helpful, One of them even walked us to our next appointment because it was in a confusing building to find.

There’s a lot of art all over campus, large sculptures and other installations. We liked that.

The dining hall is undergoing a major renovation, so it was at half capacity, but even so, S was impressed. Me, not so much, but that’s because I’ve seen a fair number of dining halls in my day. They had the standard fare of burgers, fries, pizza and hot / cold sandwiches, plus a salad bar and some vegetarian & ethnic options. It sounds like a lot describing it, but there weren’t very many selections at each station, so I hope the choices rotate or students will get tired of the food pretty quickly. On the upside, there’s a Starbucks-style coffee bar and they make a mean latte!

Freshman meal plans include 24/7 access with unlimited visits, a feature S loves. Less expensive meal plans are available for upperclassmen.

Grab 'n Go locations are scattered around campus, plus there’s a food court in the ucen. Some of these take meal plan swipes and some are cash or dining dollars only.

We did the general tour, the housing tour, and then we met with the Director of pre-health advising (who spent more than an hour with my S!) and got a tour of the drama department / facilities. Everyone was super nice and accommodating, including giving us comp tickets to one of the plays that night.

This was S's first choice school on paper, and you'd think a school couldn't go up from first place, but UNM has. S says the other schools will have to work pretty hard to have any chance of luring him away.

OK, there’s a start. I’ll post more later and I’ll be happy to answer questions. :slight_smile:

Assorted Regents, National Merit, and Amigo FAQ

1) How much is the NMF package? It’s a full ride that includes tuition, room & board, books, plus a bit left over. The room & board part is based on an average, so how much is left over will depend on which dorm and meal plan the student chooses. OOS students will receive an OOS tuition waiver. There’s also a $600 technology allowance during freshman year.

2) How much is the Regents package? It’s the same dollar amount as the NMF package, but without the freshman technology allowance. At the time of this post, the amount is $18,337 per year. OOS students will also receive the Amigo scholarship, which waives OOS tuition.

3) Are there any other differences between Regents and NMF? Yes. NMF is automatic. Regents is competitive and requires an additional application. Last year there were roughly 300 applicants for 30 spots. Regents includes cohort-based activities and opportunities not available to NMFs, and because of this, Regents scholars are required to live in the Hokona dorm their first year. NMF students may choose any dorm.

4) What are the credit hour requirements? Both programs require 15 hours per semester, and the requirement is strict. You can’t do 14 one semester and 16 the next. Some departments will work with a student to create a 1 or 2 unit class. Units can occasionally be made up during summer or winter intersession, but this is actively discouraged.

5) What are the GPA requirements? The Regents and NMF require a 3.3 to keep the main scholarship and a 3.0 to keep the Amigo (OOS tuition waiver).

6) Tell me more about the Amigo scholarship. The Amigo is an OOS tuition waiver awarded to students with either a 3.5 GPA and 23 ACT /1130 SAT or a 3.0 GPA and 26 ACT / 1240 SAT. The Amigo also comes with a $200 stipend ($100/semester). No separate application is required, and there’s a “best consideration” deadline of Feb. 1 and October 1 for Fall and Spring respectively. The Amigo is automatic as long as funds are available, and as of early July, UNM was still awarding Amigos for fall semester.

7) What if my stats are too low for the Amigo? Other OOS tuition waivers are available. Click the link below and scroll down.


8) Can unused scholarship semesters be used for grad school? No, but four-year programs that include a teaching credential are OK.

@DiotimaDM do you know if the 3.9 GPA requirement to qualify for the Regents is weighted or unweighted? Thanks

@my2caligirls I don’t know, but I’ll ask next time I talk to them. I’ll try to do that this week because I also need to ask if summer classes and study abroad are covered.


I just called and it is 3.9 weighted GPA so that’s good. Thanks for the informative post above.

Thanks for calling! I emailed, but calling was certainly faster. :slight_smile:

Re: summer classes - Regents students will pay in-state tuition for summer classes.

Re: Study abroad - The tuition portion of both scholarships may be used to cover tuition for study abroad programs. No info on what happens with Room & board money. Study abroad programs will have other, possibly significant, expenses not covered by scholarship funds.

S received his acceptance today via snail mail. He applied July 3rd and the letter was dated July 12, so a nice, fast turnaround.

They already had his transcripts and test scores when he applied. This is his first choice school, so he gets to relax about college acceptances for all of his senior year. :slight_smile:

Thanks for posting. Looking at this for my kids who are not NMF but would likely be eligible for other scholarships. He felt he would have academic peers and in depth enough classes? I have heard good things about the university, but their terrible website gives me some pause and I’ve been debating whether or not to take family on a visit this fall.

@treschicos S felt very comfortable on the UNM campus. Students seemed happy and relaxed. The honors college at UNM is in the top 25 for the nation, and several of our student guides raved about it. Between that, the NMF & Regents, learning communities, an honors dorm, and a strong BA/MD program, S felt certain that he could find his tribe.

Re: other scholarships - there’s also a program at UNM where tuition for the 8th semester is free if a student graduates in 4 years.

More on UNM…

They have the only Flamenco dance major in the country, and students come from all over the world to study there. Their photography program is ranked #5, and their video game development department is also a top 10 program. Albuquerque is a top film location, second only to Los Angeles and New York City, and film students get to work on films like Independence Day, Thor and others.

The students seemed quiet, relaxed and super friendly. One of our tour guides was a math and education major in the Honors College, and the other was a dance major.

Several of the faculty and staff we spoke with heavily stressed graduating without debt, especially in the theater department. One of them had been accepted to RISD and turned it down for UNM due to cost. She is now debt free and financially stable vs friends of hers who went to Pratt and RISD who are six digits in debt. Because the theater dept. has no grad program, there are internship, leadership and work-study / employment opportunities for undergrads that wouldn’t typically be available. The costumes and set for a current production were designed and constructed mostly by students, and the department often gets calls from theaters in ABQ and Santa Fe for students who can work in a variety of paid theater tech capacities.

UNM trivia: the best wifi signal is at the duck pond, which is a large, lovely pond surrounded by trees and inhabited by ducks and koi. It also happens to be right next to a very strong router, so the duck pond is a favorite place for students to relax, chill out, and study. The tour guide said that in warmer months, it’s not unusual to see hammocks strung from the trees.

For those into skiing, snowboarding and hiking, there’s a place on campus to rent that kind of gear at a fraction of what you’d pay elsewhere.

Students get free access to the city bus system and significant discounts on longer-distance public transit. Example: a student can hop public transit to Santa Fe for $10 RT.

There were places on the UNM campus where it would be easy to convince yourself that you were in a mountain retreat somewhere in the Southwest, instead of being in the middle of the state’s largest metropolitan area.

Re: UNM and that comfortable feeling - UNM feels like a Goldilocks school for us. It’s far enough from home to be “away”, but it’s still only a (long) day’s drive. It’s similar enough to California climate, culture and geography to feel a little familiar and a little homey, but different enough to feel like a new adventure in a new place. ABQ is a bigger city than S has ever been in, but not so big that it was intimidating or off-putting to him like Dallas was.

If anyone is planning to visit UNM, be aware that they will take you on a tour of the university, and then refer you to the housing office for a second tour. Any appointments you’d like to make with specific departments you have to make yourself. They don’t set it all up for you like UTD, OU, etc.

For us here in SoCal, Amtrak is $60 one way for an overnight trip. Leave around 7 pm, wake up in SoCal. Driving is 10 hours, and RT flights are around $120.

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Thanks for the tips about setting up the tours. I kept looking for ways to do it in one place like other schools! It sounds pretty good to me, let’s see what the kids say. I will contact honors separately as well as engineering.

Re: Engineering - there are good internship opportunities at places like Sandia and another major lab / defense contractor whose name I keep forgetting.

Interested to see if your son gets the regents because I have almost identical stats to him. The only difference is I have less volunteer hours but I think I make up for it with golf for 4 years and an internship with a architect at a Fortune 500 company. Good luck!

Good luck to you, too, @FullRideHopeful! I hope you get it. :slight_smile:

If S makes NMF, he probably won’t apply for Regents. He doesn’t want to take a possible full ride from someone, especially an in-state student, if he’s already got one guaranteed.

@DiotimaDM Hi! I am also a possible NMSF from CA. I was wondering if you knew anything about the ease of access to volunteering/ shadowing/ research opportunities for pre-meds.

Also, do NMF or honors students get priority registration? I’ve heard too many horror stories from CA public universities about impacted majors/inability to get specific classes!

Thank you so much for your informative post!! This really increased my interest in UNM!

@sewin2music Yes, honors students get priority registration.

Re: shadowing - the pre-health advising office seems to have it together in that regard, and they’ll help you find those kinds of opportunities. There’s a hospital adjacent to campus, several clinics in the general area, plus UNM has a well-regarded med school.

If you visit, you’ll need to make a separate appointment to meet with the pre-health advisor, and doing so is worth the effort. You’ll also need to make separate appointments if you want to meet with anyone from other departments of interest.

Dorms - We toured Hokona, LDV and the on-campus apartments.

I thought Hokona, currently the honors dorm, was light, airy and felt spacious (for a dorm). In fact, I thought it was kind of charming. LDV for me was cramped, dark and seemed to have something of a bro vibe going. How cramped? There was so little floor space that even so much as a bean bag chair would mean you couldn’t walk. Good luck having two or three friends over.

My S, however, had pretty much opposite reactions. He didn’t like Hokona, thought it felt small, and he really liked LDV.

We both liked the apartments quite a bit.

We’ll be going back in October for a second visit, so I’ll update on housing and the new dining hall renovations then.

More UNM tidbits.

  1. Housing applications open in October for Fall of the following year. The exact date in October isn’t given, so I suppose one has to check each year.

  2. Admission to the Honors College is automatic for a variety of high-achieving students. Said students still need to submit the application. The application is very simple, mostly dropdown boxes. No essays. Auto admit criteria are: NMF, NHRP, NA, American Indian Scholars, Regents / Presidential or ACT 28+ / SAT 1320+ AND HS GPA of at least 3.5.

@DiotimaDM My daughter applied to UNM a couple of days ago. Tomorrow we will request her high school transcripts (her high school policy is to wait until Aug. 1 for transcript requests). Paid for the SAT score report yesterday, and we are done! That was a quick and easy application! She did it on her phone while we were on vacation!