UNM student James Long, a biochemistry major, opened last semester taking 16 credit hours at UNM while working as a server at Applebee’s.
By the end of the fall semester, Long’s grades dropped. He quit his job, and he lost his Legislative Lottery Scholarship.
Long, who is planning to petition the University Scholarship Committee to get his scholarship back, said Thursday’s decision to raise the Scholarship’s credit hour requirement was tough to hear.
“That’s pretty hard-core,” Long said. “I don’t think I’m a genius. I struggle too. Everyone is going to struggle a bit more.”
The New Mexico State Legislature approved Senate Bill 347 Thursday, one of the last bills passed during this year’s session. The bill, sponsored by Senate Floor Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, increases the credit-hour requirement of the Scholarship from 12 to 15 credit hours for students at four-year institutions and will take effect starting Fiscal Year 2015.
Long isn’t the only student struggling to meet the new requirement. Michael Lathrop, a media arts major, said he was planning to drop from this semester’s 15 credit hours to 12 next semester.
“After this semester, I realized I had a lot more other things I needed to focus on as well. It’s kind of a bummer,” he said.
Civil engineering student Antonio Nuñez said the increase will make things more difficult for junior and senior students in his field who also juggle careers. Nuñez, who is wrapping up his junior year, works with the civil engineering department for the New Mexico Department of Transportation where he analyzes bridges throughout the state.
He said the credit hours increase will take away time from his job and add more hours in the classroom.
But not all students are worried about the increase. Biology major Vanesa Adame said she doesn’t see how the change in required credit hours will help sustain the future of the Scholarship.
“If they are only raising the credit hours that you have to take, then people would just take 15 credit hours,” Adame said. “I don’t see how that really solves anything or how it might weed out some people.”
Photography and communication major Shante Sisk regularly takes 18 credit hours a semester, and said she’s not worried about the increase.
“I think it could be helpful in a way. I feel that they changed it to that to get people out of UNM faster,” she said.
Rita Arenas said she made a smooth transition from 12 credit hours a semester to 15 last fall. Arenas, an anthropology and psychology major, called the move to 15 credit hours “doable.”
“I don’t think one extra class is too much to handle,” she said. ”With options like eight-week course and online, I’ve made the adjustment.”