Partnership with Navajo Nation looks to fill more beds at Lobo Rainforest | KOB 4
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Partnership with Navajo Nation looks to fill more beds at Lobo Rainforest

Colton Shone
January 12, 2018 07:22 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Higher education isn't cheap. 

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Between cuts to the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship and rising costs, many go into debt trying to find a place to live, whether it's on or off campus.

Janalee Livingston is a Navajo student from Gallup who studies at UNM. The high costs meant she was homeless for some time, choosing to pay for school instead of a place to live. She found herself couch surfing with friends.

"It was very tough. You don't have anywhere to turn. All your family is back home," Livingston said. "But you know you need to get an education. You know this is going to be better for you."

A new partnership between the Navajo Nation and UNM means she has an opportunity to live at Lobo Rainforest as her tribe picks up the tab.

The Navajo Nation will pay for floors five and six at Lobo Rainforest to house 118 Navajo students. Navajo Nation President Russell Begay announced a $1.4 million deal to keep UNM Navajo students housed in an agreement lasing until 2021.

"This is an investment in the future of the Navajo Nation, investment in the future of New Mexico," he said.

Lobo Rainforest opened to big fanfare last fall. It touted a brand new space, with 310 beds for upperclassmen and Innovate Academy scholars.  But as the fall semester started, we reported that only 80 beds were leased out, meaning the facility was at only about 25 percent capacity.

A developer says this new agreement brings it closer to 70-percent.

Navajo Nation officials will decide which students get chosen. Livingston, who wants to apply to pharmacy school, says the partnership with allow students from the reservation stay connected to their identities, and push them to succeed in the process.

"It's very hard for a student to come out and completely uproot themselves to move to a different place that's completely different," she said. "We're doing this to better our education and help our community."

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Colton Shone

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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