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Lottery Scholarship On Life Support

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Lottery Scholarship On Life Support

Wiroj Sidhisoradej

Wiroj Sidhisoradej

Wiroj Sidhisoradej

Miranda Archuleta, Author

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Many New Mexico residents who are enrolled in or are considering attending an in-state school are heavily dependent on the lottery scholarship to pay tuition. Over the years, the system used to allocate funds to the scholarship foundation has become stressed. This is problematic as the scholarship can be a key factor in keeping New Mexico students in New Mexico colleges and universities and helps those students pay their tuition.

When the scholarship program was first put in place in 1996, it covered 100 percent of tuition costs for in-state schools. Now it only covers about 60 percent, according to the Albuquerque Journal. This decline has been caused by an increase in tuition costs and a decrease in lottery ticket sales.

Each year, approximately 30 percent of proceeds from ticket sales go into the scholarship fund, but in recent years lawmakers have had to make changes to the the way money is put into the fund.

In 2017, the N.M. Legislature passed Senate Bill 140, which was signed into law by Governor Susana Martinez. This bill keeps the percentage of ticket sales appropriated to the fund the same but mandates that a certain amount of money be put into the scholarship fund. According to the text of SB 140, the amounts are “$1,400 per scholarship per program semester for a student enrolled at a research institution; $950 per scholarship per program semester for a student enrolled at a comprehensive institution; and $350 per scholarship per program semester for a student enrolled at a community college.”

According to the N.M. Legislative Finance Committee, the key to getting more funding into the Lottery Scholarship may lie in increasing the size of the prize. Increased prizes tend to result in more ticket sales. For example, in January 2016, a Powerball jackpot with a prize of $1.65 billion created the highest volume of monthly Powerball sales, nearly $18 million.

UNM’s tuition is $7,354 for the 2018-2019 academic year for full-time enrollment, according to the Office of Admissions. This is a $690 increase from 2015-2016 when in-state tuition for UNM was $6,664 per year. Under current scholarship awarding stipulations, students have to pay about $4,554 when in 2015 they only had to pay $3,864.

A current UNM student who wishes to remain anonymous has experienced the difficulty of paying for an increasingly expensive education. As a recipient of the lottery scholarship, she said that it is helpful, but not enough given the rising tuition. “While the lottery scholarship is helpful in paying for college, its unpredictability at times outweighs its benefits,” she stated.

Eastern New Mexico University’s tuition is about $6,207 for the 2017-2018 academic year, according to its website. In 2015-2016, the tuition was $5,168, or $1,039 less. ENMU is now experiencing a small drop in enrollment, at 0.2 percent, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

New Mexico State University’s tuition is $7,368 for the 2018-2019 academic year, according to its web page for undergraduate admissions. Just three years ago, it was $6,904, an increase of $464, meaning that the average awarded lottery scholarship now leaves students to pay approximately $4,568 when in 2015 they would have paid $4,104, and a few years earlier they would have paid nothing.

So what does this mean for current and prospective college students who rely on the lottery scholarship to pay tuition?

High school senior Juliana Rivera says that although she is interested in some state schools because of their programs and their proximity to home, she would not be as interested if the lottery scholarship didn’t substantially lower her tuition costs.

Senior Ciara Morgan says she is also interested in attending a state school and has already applied to UNM, NMSU, and Highlands. She did not have the same feeling about the lottery scholarship, however, and stated that even if the lottery didn’t continue to cover 60 percent of tuition costs, she would still be interested in going to these schools because their programs are “just as good as those out of state.”

Increasing tuition rates are already having a negative effect on enrollment. UNM is projected to lose about $10 million in revenue due to its plummeting enrollment rate, which has dropped by 7.2 percent.

According to a UNM survey of applicants who were admitted to UNM but did not enroll, cost was a major factor. About 48.3 percent of respondents said they chose not to attend because they received better financial aid or scholarships from another school while 36.4 percent said that the high cost of tuition discouraged them from enrolling. Another 27.5 percent said that the lower cost of community college led them to choose that route.

However, some institutions’ enrollment is on the rise. Both NMSU and NM Tech have experienced an increase in enrollment of about 10.6 percent and 28.5 percent, respectively.

NM Tech attributes its increase in enrollment to their aggressive outreach to potential students, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

NMSU attributes its increase to their rising school scholarship allotment — their funding went from $9.6 million to $14.8 million over the last year to, encouraging more students to enroll as they are receiving more money to pay for tuition.

Governor elect Michelle Lujan Grisham is also concerned about the increasing cost of college tuition. According to her website, she believes that Congress must pass legislation to make college more accessible and affordable for Americans. She is also a supporter of lowering student loan interest rates, ensuring that Pell grants are fully funded, and investing in community college.

Grisham proposed the Education for Jobs Act, which will expand federal student loan benefits for students who are “1) enrolled in a degree or certificate program 2) are carrying at least 3 credit hours and 3) have worked on a full time basis for more than 10 years.” Increasing access to student loans would make college possible for more people.

If the lottery scholarship continues to help prospective in-state college students to afford to earn a degree at a New Mexico institution, keeping educated individuals in the state will allow for important jobs such as doctors, lawyers, and even politicians to be filled. However, the loss or degradation of the lottery scholarship might encourage New Mexico residents to look elsewhere for education, leaving the state with fewer educated professionals to fill those jobs.

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Lottery Scholarship On Life Support