SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico Higher Education Department has announced that for the 2021 to 2022 school year, the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship will cover the full amount of tuition for eligible students at all public and Tribal colleges and universities. This is the first time the scholarship has covered 100% of tuition for eligible students since 2015.
According to a news release from NMHED, the scholarship will be funded at $63.5 million for the fiscal year 2022. This marks a 30% increase from last year’s funding of $43 million.
While the Lottery Scholarship paid the full tuition for eligible students between 1996 and 2015, it was reduced to cover between 60 to 75% in 2018 following the expiration of liquor excise tax revenue. NMHED reports that in 2019, funds were distributed based on projected lottery revenues and student enrollment at each institution.
During the 2019 to 2020 school year, NMHED states that more than 20% of college students enrolled in New Mexico received the Lottery Scholarship with the majority attending four-year public research and comprehensive colleges. According to a 2020 Higher Education Department report, 84% of students who received the Lottery Scholarship for six or more semesters achieved a degree or certificate.
In order to qualify for the Lottery Scholarship, students must enroll at a public or Tribal college or university in New Mexico within 16 months of high school graduation, attend full time, and maintain a 2.5 GPA starting in their first semester. The scholarship is disbursed by the university the student attends and eligibility is determined upon admission. NMHED states students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or equivalent for those who are ineligible for federal aid.
Students say they know just how much of a difference it can make. “It really helped out a lot because I didn’t have a lot of money coming into the university but the lottery did help me out a lot with like coming and having that support,” said Chauntelle Varela, UNM Senior.
“My brother, my older brother had pretty much everything fully covered. I think I only had 60% of tuition or maybe 70% covered which was super super helpful for me because I didn’t really get any other scholarships,” said Ryan Heckman, UNM Senior.
In recent years, the lottery scholarship has only been able to cover 60%-90% of student tuition. Officials say about 24,000 students qualify for the scholarship each year. The state says it’s confident that they’ll be able to help everyone who applies and is eligible for the scholarship.
Additionally, the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship has also received an increase of $11 million and will benefit students who are not eligible for the Lottery Scholarship. This includes returning adult learners and students who attend school part-time. For more information about state scholarships, grants, and financial aid, visit hed.state.nm.us.