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Changes Proposed to NM Legislative Lottery Scholarship Program

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 By Beth BlakemanContact
January 9, 2012

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Scholarships from the New Mexico Lottery could be getting harder to win. Some 75,000 students have benefited from the scholarships since 1996. However, the lottery is now predicting flat sales and flat revenues through 2016, in part due to casino competition.

Gerry Bradley, research director with New Mexico Voices for Children, expects there will be more eligible students than money under the current application criteria.

"The lottery scholarship now is restricted to New Mexico high school graduates who go directly into college and maintain about a C average."

That means a lot of eligible students, and making matters worse is that tuition has continued to rise. Bradley sees additional trouble on the horizon with the possible emergence of online gambling, which could add even more competition for the lottery.

Bradley's organization suggests that the problem could be eased by reserving the lottery scholarships for those in financial need.

"Because of the pressure on the lottery scholarship, it would be redirected to students who meet a set of income eligibility requirements."

One area where the pressure could ease up a bit is tuition. Bradley says the legislature is considering increasing expenditures for higher education in fiscal year 2013 by 5.4 percent.

"It looks better to me because the legislature is proposing to pay more into higher ed."

The New Mexico Legislature meets for a 30-day session beginning Jan. 17. The House Education Committees begin meeting Jan. 11.

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