FIRST for Students With a Criminal Record

Don't give up on your education because of a criminal record. Whether it's a felony or misdemeanor, Formerly Incarcerated Students' Reintegration Success Team (FIRST) welcomes you as a student.


Please contact FIRST at (505) 224-4716.

You may also email us at

FIRST logo

FIRST is an interdivisional, interdisciplinary, resource-centered team helping students who are, or have been, clients of the criminal justice system. Our focus is having these students successfully navigate through post-secondary education.

FIRST understands the fears, misinformation, and many obstacles that our students with criminal records face when thinking about finishing their education. We have resources, connections with community partners, and information that can help you achieve your educational goals.

If you or someone you know has a criminal record—with or without convictions—and wants to finish a high school or college education, CNM’s FIRST program can put you on the path to receiving a diploma, certificate or license.

Why CNM is Right for You

Central New Mexico Community College is not new to teaching students with a criminal record. If you:

  • Want to have a better job or your own business
  • Are worried about balancing school, work, family and the conditions of your release
  • Think that college is too expensive
  • Are afraid other students or teachers will judge you because of your past
  • Believe you don't have the proper background to attend college

Federal Student Aid

Having a criminal record will not necessarily make you ineligible for student aid. Learn about your options.

Then come to CNM and understand that--regardless of your background--you belong here and deserve a quality education at an affordable cost. With 200+ associate degrees, certificates, and training programs—including the High School Equivalency (HSE) program—your options are endless.

It is within your reach to attend college and succeed. Do not let your past stop you from becoming who you want to be and where you want to be in life. 

Your FIRST Advisor

FIRST has an advisor to help guide you in your education and career pathways. This coach will help you choose majors and courses, understand CNM procedures, access financial aid resources and more.

Additionally, CNM understands that navigating the conditions of probation/parole can be challenging. Your FIRST coach can help with:

  • Communicating with your instructor about specific court-mandated requirements of your probation/parole (that may impact your learning)
  • Communicating with your probation/parole supervisor about scheduling needs you have for your classes (i.e., additional time at CNM campuses to access tutoring, computer lab services, libraries, etc).
  • Explaining ways in which CNM can help you, such as clearing misdemeanor warrants via the NM Outreach Court.

Get connected with your FIRST advisor by calling (505) 224-4716 or emailing 

CNM Student Success Stories

We are proud of our students and would like to share their stories. These are the stories of those with criminal records who have persisted and excelled at CNM.

Pictures of CNM students: Jessica Bower, Aaron Widman, Rebecca Martinez, Leroy Romero

(from left: Jessica, Aaron, Rebecca, Leroy)

As demonstrated in these stories, you can start a new chapter in your life. A degree or certificate is within reach, and at CNM, we're here to make sure that happens. Contact us with any questions, use the related links/resources on this page for more information or apply now.