New Mexico reduces lottery scholarships

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) — This is not what students and parents wanted to hear. They’ll need to start coming up with a plan to come up with thousands of dollars to pay for tuition, and it could get worse in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, the state announced that the Lottery Scholarship will not be covering 90 percent of tuition like it did this year. It will barely cover half starting in the fall, and tuition hikes could be coming too.

“I think it’s really sad because a lot of students that come here like me are really dependent on that Lottery Scholarship to  pay for the full tuition,” said UNM student Ana Caren.

One of the toughest things in life just got tougher for New Mexico families — paying for college.

Wednesday, the governor’s Higher Education Secretary announced what everyone knew would be coming: The Lottery Scholarship will not cover as much tuition as it used to.

But what people may not have seen coming is how steep the cut is. Last year, the scholarship covered 90 percent of tuition. Next school year it will be just 60 percent.

For University of New Mexico students, where the cost of going to school has more than doubled in the past 15 years, they’ll have to scrape together another $1,600 to come up with their tuition.

With tuition hikes and increased enrollment at New Mexico’s colleges over the years outpacing lottery sales, lawmakers have seen this day coming for a long time.

Democratic representative Debra Sarinana, who also teaches at Manzano High School, tried a bill this year that would funnel more of the Lottery Scholarship money to students who need it more.

“How do we help the low income? How do we help everyone, but our low income are going to have the biggest impact,” Rep. Sarinana said.

But politically touchy ideas to make the scholarship either more need-based or merit-based have all died in the Roundhouse.

“I think it’s hard to make those decisions for prioritizing but I think it’s important enough even if some folks are getting it that don’t strictly need it,” said former UNM student Zad Lind.

Higher education has been cut for two years running now because of the state’s money problems. That means more tuition hikes are probably on the way soon, and the Lottery Scholarship will be helping even less with those now.

The Lottery Scholarship helps about 26,000 students a year.

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