Lottery ticket sales fall, impacting scholarships

Posted at: 11/27/2012 5:54 PM
Updated at: 11/27/2012 6:15 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

While New Mexicans go crazy over the Powerball lottery, lotteries are actually falling on hard times in our state.

Legislative money-minders have been watching the trends for years: decreasing ticket sales, increasing numbers of students, and increasing tuition costs.

It all adds up to red ink - dead ahead.

The New Mexico Lottery Scholarship Fund is expected to start running in the red by the middle of next year, with the picture getting even worse in 2014. What do you do? Reduce the amounts for each students? Tighten the requirements? Base it on family income?

Students took part in the discussion today, while UNM officials and state officials put on an in-depth briefing for students, faculty and staff.

"I think we should be targeting students who are going to go through and finish, rather than students who are going to drop out halfway," said scholarship student Vanely Salinas, pointing to the low graduation rate among students who get the scholarships.

Laura Ordonez, who is also on a lottery scholarship, said they should be awarded on a need basis.

"I think if your family is able to make like over $100,000 a year, I think they have more chances to help you than if your family makes like $20,000 or $40,000 a year," Ordonez said.

"There's a lot of students whose future is in the hands of the legislature right now," said scholarship student Kyle Stepp. "Without these scholarships a lot of these students will not be able to get a college degree because they can't afford it."

Since it started in 1996, the lottery has pumped more than half a billion dollars into the scholarship fund, benefiting more than 75,000 students.

The legislature will be looking at big changes for the lottery and its scholarships when the lawmakers convene in January.