As Lobos, we naturally want the best for our University, but there are setbacks that are reflected in the decreasing enrollment rates, which cannot be ignored.
Poor and decreasing enrollment numbers can cause a snowball effect of hardships at the University of New Mexico.
In the past year, UNM has seen almost a in freshman enrollment. There is a range of issues contributing to poor enrollment numbers in recent years, but largely the issues are in terms of finances.
In the past few months, the College of Arts and Sciences has proposed a raise in tuition for its students. The exact amount of change in tuition per student is not set in stone, but this is an issue that is only exacerbated by the decreased Lottery Scholarship funding for students.
The Lottery is a great resource for UNM students. However, when this resource is decreased, it in turn also removes much student motivation to remain in state when one could possibly apply for scholarships to schools outside of New Mexico.
One of the proposed solutions to take effect in the 2018-2019 school year is for incoming freshmen. This solution seeks to enhance attendance numbers and ideally address dropout rates in underclassmen.
However, this change may only increase attendance costs and further lower enrollment rates.
Mandatory campus housing may also turn some students away if they are already in need of financial assistance in order to cover the lowered monetary benefits of the Lottery Scholarship.
The change in freshman requirements may not have been too much of an issue if the Lottery coverage was not steadily decreasing over the past few years.
While some of the students attending UNM are not affected, because they may not be using the Lottery due to their GPA or residency status, getting a scholarship in general is not an easy task.
When I was entering UNM, I knew that I needed to apply for more scholarships to help my family afford school without getting involved in the vicious cycle of student loans. I was confident in my ability, given my high GPA and my set major that I knew I wanted to pursue.
To my own dismay, I found I was not selected to receive any financial aid beyond the Lottery Scholarship and the Bridge to Success grant.
This has made affording college hard and is still an obstacle I am trying to overcome. I know that I am not the only one that experiences the difficulty of getting scholarships.
The monetary cost of living in the UNM area may also be driving students away.
On campus, even the cost of food is expensive.
For example, at some of the Mercados in various halls on campus, a basic tuna sandwich can cost upwards of $4 plus tax.
A basic, balanced meal from any of these convenient eateries can cost around $10. This makes wanting to go to McDonald’s for a greasy value meal sound like a better option.
On the other hand, for students coming to UNM from a city that does not necessarily require one’s own mode of transportation, living close to UNM is probably one of the first requirements for attending this school.
For non-residents coming to UNM, housing options include on-campus housing which usually runs more than $650 for a room that is possibly shared with an unfamiliar UNM student or living off-campus where the lower-end apartments that are just blocks from campus may be around the same price.
In this case, living a few blocks away from campus may also include a risk of being a victim of the city’s high crime rates.
Another issue that affects enrollment rates at UNM is the infamous notoriety that Albuquerque has in terms of crime.
Albuquerque is known as one of the most dangerous cities in the country, and this contributes to a reluctance to attend school right in the heart of the city where crimes are mostly concentrated in the UNM/Nob Hill area.
This is not to say that high crime rates make Albuquerque a horrible place to live — I was born and raised here, and I personally feel comfortable being in a city that I know like the back of my hand.
However, I also recognize that living in Albuquerque and attending this University in the epicenter of the city’s crime does require a heightened amount of awareness of one’s surroundings.
Going forward into a new era of academia under the leadership of the new president, , hopefully changes can be made to raise enrollment numbers, lower costs and make a safer environment for this campus.
Perhaps in the years to follow, UNM can find means to prosper by gaining credibility for our great academic programs and access to resources within a relatively untapped community.
Rebecca Brusseau is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers the LGBTQ community. The views in this column are her own. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @r_brusseau.