Senator proposes setting lottery scholarship rate based on tuition costs

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A new plan to deal with the shortfall in the lottery scholarship could leave some students paying more than others.

The state lawmaker’s proposal would mean students would get different percentages of their tuition paid for depending on where they go to school.

Sen. Bill Soules (D-Las Cruces) says his bill is about making it easier for students and parents to plan for a college education by setting a base rate for the scholarship.

Senate Bill 140 sets lottery scholarship awards based on types of colleges. For research institutions like the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State and New Mexico Tech, the scholarships would be $1,400 a semester; then $950 a semester for comprehensive institutions like Eastern New Mexico University, and $350 a semester for community colleges.

Those would cover in the neighborhood of 50 percent of tuition at those schools. The base rates will fluctuate depending on how much is available from the scholarship fund determined by the Secretary of Education.

The Las Cruces senator also believes it could discourage schools from constantly raising tuition.

“One of the real effects it has is it removes any incentive that the higher education institutions might have to raise tuition because, ‘Oh, it’s just going to be covered by the lottery,” Soules said. “It takes it away from the tuition.”

Over in the House, Larry Larranaga (R-Albuquerque) has introduced a similar bill, but the base rates in his bill are slightly higher.

Both bills are waiting to be heard in their respective education committees.

Of course, the lottery scholarship does not cover student fees, which are almost $2,000 at UNM.

The lottery scholarship pays 60 percent of tuition now, regardless of the school. It paid 90 percent last school year.

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