Published: February 28, 2021

NM Lottery scholarship: NM universities unite to lobby, bill advocates for homeschool students

During the 55th Session of the New Mexico Legislature, legislators at the state level and the student government level are working to amend the current New Mexico Lottery Scholarship.

Senate Bill 234 to include homeschooled New Mexicans 

In a 7-1 vote on Feb. 15, the New Mexico Senate Education Committee granted Senate Bill 234 a do-pass, introduced by Sen. Cliff Pirtle (R-Roswell), which would allow for students homeschooled in the state of New Mexico to qualify for the New Mexico Legislative Lottery Scholarship without being required to take the GED.

Sen. Cliff Pirtle introduced Senate Bill 234 to make the process of qualifying for the Lottery Scholarship easier for homeschooled students.

“It’s really just addressing the fact that kiddos who go through a homeschool program have to go through an extra step, just to be qualified for the Lottery Scholarship, and that’s they would have to get their high school equivalency exam also known by many as the GED, so this would just take that away,” Senator Pirtle said.

The current bill allows homeschooled students to receive the Lottery Scholarship, but students only qualify once they “received a high school equivalency credential [GED] while maintaining residency in New Mexico,” according to the bill.

Senator Pirtle explained that homeschooled students prove their competency in the same ways as students who attended public and accredited private high schools in New Mexico.

“They already have to pass the competency exam that all students have to and there’s other qualifications that they would have to do to ensure that, they would have to be residents of New Mexico, and we need to remember that before you get the scholarship you have to maintain a 2.5 [GPA] to 4.0 [GPA] for one semester,” Senator Pirtle stated.

There are currently two house bills and one senate bill regarding the Lottery Scholarship in the First Session of the 55th Legislature.

ASNMSU, UNM and NMT partner to lobby for the Lottery 

The Associated Students of New Mexico State University recently teamed up with the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico in efforts to save the Lottery Scholarship.

Mathew Madrid, president of ASNMSU, recently co-signed an op-ed alongside Mia Amin, ASUNM president, and Quincy Bradfield, New Mexico Tech Student Government president.

An op-ed published in the Albuquerque Journal stated, “student government leaders from the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology unequivocally urge legislators to cover the Legislative Lottery Scholarship shortfall by allocating $9.7 million from the General Fund to the Lottery Tuition Fund.”

According to the 2020 Higher Education Department of New Mexico Lottery Scholarship report,  41.4 percent of students at NMSU received the Lottery Scholarship and in the past years funding for the scholarship has been decreasing.

Madrid explained that throughout the years the percentage of tuition covered by the Lottery Scholarship has been continuously decreasing.

“At one point the Lottery Scholarship covered 100% of tuition, right, and that’s slowly decreased over the years for a number of reasons—whether it be, you know, tuition increase or because people don’t play the lottery anymore. The amount of money that students get from the Lottery Scholarship covers less and less tuition,” Madrid said.

With the ASNMSU and ASUNM partnership to “Save the Lottery Scholarship,” Madrid hopes to encourage students to contact legislators because “it really adds a lot of value to the conversation when students share their experiences.”

“Encouraging students to reach out [and] vocalize their experience through the pandemic would really help in making representatives and senators understand how their decisions are affecting us,” Madrid said.

Students can find out who their state legislators are here.

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