Lottery scholarship recipients around the state are going to have an easier time coming up with tuition for the fall semester.
“When I got here, you know, everybody was saying you got to be careful, don’t count on the lottery, it’s going to go down,” said lottery scholarship recipient Luke Bussen.
Eastern New Mexico University junior Luke Bussen said without the lottery scholarship, paying for most of his tuition would have been a huge burden on his family and on him.
“With the lottery scholarship contributing, I’ve been able to come here without taking out a loan so, no student debt,” said Bussen.
For years, the scholarship paid 100 percent of a students’ tuition.
“Because of budget cuts and other reasons, tuition went up faster than they thought, so just last year was the most significant drop and it went down to roughly 60 percent of cost,” said Dr. Jeff Elwell, president of ENMU Portales.
In January, the legislature set fixed lottery scholarships depending on the school: $1500 a semester for students at the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State and New Mexico Tech, and $1000 a semester at four-year schools like Eastern and Western.
However, the state just sent a letter to colleges, letting them know because of fewer scholarship recipients, higher lottery revenues and a $4 million boost lawmakers included in the budget, scholarship amounts will go up next school year.
UNM students will get an extra $800 a semester. At ENMU they get an extra $560.
“I would’ve been totally just elated to hear that it was staying the same, but to hear that it’s going up is amazing,” said Bussen.
Still, ENMU’s president wonders if the announcement has come too late for some students.
“It’s a bad thing in a way – so many students have decided to leave the state to get their higher education,” said Dr. Elwell.
The lottery scholarship was only going to cover 55 percent of UNM’s tuition. Now, it will be 85 percent.