Regional
9:45 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

NM Lottery Scholarship Safe...For Now

When Gov. Susana Martinez signed SB 347 into law, it shored up New Mexico's lottery scholarship…but it means the state will spend $22.5 million this year and next to keep the scholarship going. It uses a big chunk of liquor taxes in the process.

Under the plan, scholarships would be offered for 7 semesters instead of 8. Four-year university students will need to take 15 credit hours to qualify, not the current 12.

"We hate to see changes like this," said ASNMSU president David Maestas.

NMSU student body president David Maestas has been outspoken against the changes he says are a temporary fix and not a permanent solution.

"This scholarship was designed to make college as accessible as possible for all students…that's why minimum GPA is a 2.5, credit hours are 12," said David Maestas.

A fix like this raises a longer-term problems, according to Maestas.

"This scholarship is not supposed to be funded by taxpayer money," said Maestas.

Tracking the numbers of students with the scholarship took me to the office of Student Affairs, where I met planning officer, Melody Munson-McGee.

"About a third of our undergraduate students on this campus have the scholarship," said Munson-McGee.

The increase from 12 to 15 credits aims at getting students closer to graduation faster…and taking more credits is necessary anyway to graduate in 4 years.

"If you take 12 credits, by the time you've been here 8 semesters…not nearly the 128 that you need to graduate," said Munson-McGee.

That's only 96 credits. Fifteen credits times 8 semesters is only 120 credits.

"Obviously, you're gonna be a lot closer if you've got 120…than if you've only got 96 credits," said Munson-McGee.

I talked to several students in front of NMSU's Corbett Center about what they thought about the changes to the lottery scholarship.

William Vanorder is a freshman who was never eligible for the scholarship since he's from Texas.

"There's a little bit of envy…it's reasonable that its not going to last forever…unfair…spring up so fast," said Vanorder.

Mel Bentley is also a freshman. Her frustration is pretty obvious. Fifteen hours a semester, she says, isn't too much to expect, but it could present its own problems.

"I don't want them to just give the scholarship away…if I have to drop a class because I'm failing it, I don't want to be penalized financially," said Bentley.

Student body president David Maestas will graduate soon, he still has future students in mind.

"What I want to see…the scholarship continue, so these changes, I believe, were necessary to help ensure that the scholarship remains."