Financial Cuts in New Mexico Lottery Scholarship Impacts NMSU Students

LAS CRUCES, NM – New Mexico State University students are struggling to pay for tuition this academic school year due to cuts in the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship.

The lottery will now only cover 60 percent of tuition costs for this 2017-18 school year. This is compared to recent years where the lottery scholarship covered 90 percent of tuition costs. This was done in order to stretch revenue for the financial aid program, according to state education officials.

According to the Higher Education Department, New Mexico State students now only receive $1,721, which is a decrease of more than $700 from last year. New Mexico Community colleges will also decrease their scholarship amounts from $617 to $432.

Earlier this year the New Mexico Board of regents agreed on a rise of about six percent in tuition for NMSU and as well as other community colleges around the state. This creates additional problems for NMSU students.

Efrashia Crespin, 19, a sophomore at NMSU, is among the many students who are now facing problems due to the financial cuts in the lottery scholarship. Crespin, who has a part time job, said she is now paying out of pocket for her books and for some of her tuition.

“I am a student that comes from a low-income family and the lottery was a big factor into helping with my tuition and books fee costs,” Crespin said.

She is aware of the possible additional cuts in the lottery scholarship in the near future and she plans to apply to other financial aid programs, such as the scholar dollar to help pay for school. However, she thinks she may have to drop to a part time student eventually.

“Due to recent cut backs and the increase of tuition, my paycheck only helps oh so much with paying my expenses,” Crespin said.

Austin Gentry, the Financial Aid outreach advisor at NMSU, said the reduction in the lottery is due to recent decreased revenue from New Mexico lottery proceeds. Gentry explained that the scholarship fund must maintain a $2 million balance at the end of each year.

Gentry said that even with the lottery cuts there has been no decline of enrollment at NMSU this academic year. In fact, NMSU has seen the opposite.

“This year NMSU welcomed the largest first-year class since 2012 thanks to the efforts          of the University Admission’s Office, new scholarships to incoming students, building caring community, and various other programs NMSU has started in recent years,” Gentry said.

According to the higher education department, $39.5 million were funded for lottery proceeds, but falls way short of the $68 million needed to pay for full tuition.

Anissa Wright, 21, a senior at NMSU, has had the lottery scholarship since her freshman year of college back in 2014. She said she didn’t expect the cuts to impact her that much, but certainly feels the financial problems now.

“I had absolutely no money to assist me with books this semester,” Wright said.

Wright has two jobs to help pay for school and is a full time student at the NMSU main campus. She also lives off campus and has to worry about paying for rent, bills and food. Wright said she takes out student loans to help pay for school and now has to pick up extra shifts at her work in order to pay off her personal finances.

With additional cuts in the lottery coming, Wright believes there isn’t any way to prepare for it but will give it her all to help pay for her schooling and other necessities.

“I will do my best to work as much as I can on top of being a student, being involved in on campus organizations, being a coach, and internships for my future career,” Wright said. “I also plan to take full advantage of my fall, winter, and spring breaks to get caught up financially.”

While some students take out student loans to help pay for school, Gentry said students are seeking to avoid debt by paying off school by working or finding other scholarships.

“We have not seen any data that shows students are borrowing more in student loans to cover the reduction in lottery scholarship funds,” Gentry said.

According to the NMSU financial aid website, students must take at least 15 credit hours and maintain a 2.5 cumulative GPA or higher in order to keep the NM lottery scholarship. Students must also maintain consecutive enrollment to keep the scholarship.







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