More students to be added to lottery scholarship program

Posted at: 03/08/2013 5:43 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

State lawmakers want to add more students to New Mexico's lottery scholarship program - even though it's running out of money.

On a unanimous vote Friday afternoon the House of Representatives approved extending the scholarships to students at the state's Indian tribal colleges. They figure maybe 250 students at a cost of maybe $250,000 - in a scholarship fund that's expected to run into the red ink to the tune of $5 million by the end of June.

Earlier in the session the House approved another expansion of the scholarships, to cover students who start college up to two years after high school graduation, instead of immediately after getting their diploma, the way it is now.

More than 75,000 New Mexico kids have used the scholarships since they started back in 1996, and many students today will tell you they wouldn't be in college without the help.

"My parents can't afford it and I can only save so much for it," said UNM student Andrea Herriot, who's studying criminology. "It really helps me with my tuition and fees and all I have to pay for is my books, which are really cheap. It helps a lot."

"It would be a big burden to myself and my family to pick that up and actually pay for it," said  Daniel Yonemoto, a UNM junior majoring in chemistry. " I might not be here without it, potentially, but I'm fairly studious so I would have to find another scholarship or something like that."

Three factors are behind the scholarship fund's money crisis - more students qualifying, tuition going up, and lottery ticket sales going down. Lawmakers still haven't settled on the best way to fix the problem.