State lottery scholarship to run dry in 2013
Posted at: 09/27/2012 5:46 PM
| Updated at: 09/27/2012 6:16 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
New Mexico's lottery scholarship program for college students is in a financial crisis again, and thousands of students are worried about staying in school if their scholarships get slashed.
Scholarship money from lottery ticket sales is projected at about $40 million for the next fiscal year that begins in July 2013. The trouble is that it will take about $60 million to cover tuition costs for all of the students eligible for the perk.
Since the lottery started back in 1996, nearly 100,000 New Mexico students have received lottery scholarships that cover tuition costs at New Mexico's universities and community colleges, but state lawmakers say the scholarship fund is projected to run dry in 2013.
Anna Trillo knows how important the lottery scholarships can be; she had one and she just graduated from the University of New Mexico.
"If I didn't have it I probably wouldn't have been able to take full time classes," she said. "It would probably take me longer to graduate, just because I would have to go to school part time and probably work more hours."
And Trillo is not alone. Other students share similar sentiments.
"That would be a huge difficulty for a number of students," said UNM sophomore Ryan Bush. "There are many students here who rely entirely on the lottery scholarships and would not be able to attend the university if they lost that."
For some, having the state pitch in less money to cover tuition costs would be an adjustment, but not devastating.
"I would have to pay more out of pocket, but it's do-able," said student Matthew Scott.
To qualify for a scholarship students must graduate from a New Mexico high school or earn a GED, and keep a grade point average of 2.5.
The Legislative Finance Committee is already wrestling with the scholarship shortfall, but there probably won't be any real action on the problem until the full legislature meets in its regular session in January.