Each year the New Mexico Department of Higher Education is required to send out a letter announcing the next school year’s Lottery Scholarship funding. This year it was announced that students will be receiving more money than originally thought — almost $800 more for some students.
The Lottery Scholarship, which aids more than 26,000 students annually, was a hot topic in the previous state legislative session. Senate Bill 140 was by the House of Representatives and dictates how much students with the scholarship will receive.
The amounts approved on February 15 are a base amount of $1,500 for students at research institutes such as the University of New Mexico, $1,020 for students at comprehensive institutions such as Eastern New Mexico and $380 for students at community colleges, such as Central New Mexico Community College.
An additional $4 million was allocated for the 2018-2019 school year, boosting scholarship money to the base funds for students at the three different institution types, according to the Department of Higher Education’s letter.
The new amounts are as follows for Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters: $2,294 for research institutions, $1,560 for comprehensive institutions and $581 for community college students. According to HED, these amounts are configured from past revenues and projected revenues for the New Mexico Lottery Authority.
If tuition is lower than the amount allocated, according the HED letter, students will be awarded the full tuition price.
Prior to the decision on to reduce the Lottery Scholarship funding from covering 90 percent of tuition to 60 percent, students were awarded $2,465 for the Spring 2017 semester, according to the HED’s 2017 Legislative Lottery Scholarship Report.
As for the years following the 2018-2019 school year, it is possible for the amount to go back down to the original allocations voted on by the legislature, with no guarantee it could reach Spring 2017 levels. Brian Malone, the director of the Student Financial Aid Office, said the University will not know until next June about next year’s scholarship when HED makes their announcement.
As for the overall impact on the University, Terry Babbitt, the vice provost of Enrollment & Analytics, said it should help students stay in school.
He said the additional amount is significant for students who are on the edge of having enough financial resources to stay enrolled, a margin he said he knows is a substantial number.
The additional funds is following the year with the lowest amount of money allocated through the scholarship. According to the New Mexico Lottery website, in 2017, — $4 million short of the $41.8 million average over the past 10 years.
The increase will go into effect for the Fall 2018 semester.