Every year, thousands of students rely on the Lottery Scholarship for tuition support. That scholarship has recently experienced a 30 percent decrease in funds — a problem that the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico plans on tackling this legislative session.
Tens of thousands of students from around New Mexico benefit from the Lottery Scholarship each year. The scholarship used to cover 90 percent of a student’s tuition, but now only covers 60 percent. Among the many reasons for this sharp decline in funding is a decrease in lottery ticket purchases, according to State Sen. Cisco McSorley, who represents the UNM area.
UNM Day, a day students traditionally travel to Santa Fe for the legislative session to give gifts to legislators, is going to look a little different this year, ASUNM President Noah Brooks said.
This year, rather than gifts, ASUNM intends to highlight the “return on investment” the Lottery Scholarship has provided to both students and the state, he said.
“We are not giving gifts this year (due to) the troubling financial climate that the University and state are operating in,” said Noah Michelsohn, director of communications for ASUNM.
He continued by saying the money would best be served if spent on the needs of students, such as providing free Blue Books.
This year, the contingent from UNM will be presenting various student research projects conducted by current Lottery Scholarship recipients. The hope is that this will show legislators the benefits the scholarship provides to many students and the community as a whole, Michelsohn said.
“It is unfortunate to see that the governor refuses to make funding the scholarship a top priority, but ASUNM will continue to speak up and put pressure on the administration to restore the Lottery Scholarship funding to 100 percent,” Michelsohn said.
In the past ASUNM has had several meetings with state senators and representatives and has attempted to write a bill to restore funding for the Lottery Scholarship to its previous amount. ASUNM has written to Gov. Susana Martinez about the need for a well-funded Lottery Scholarship.
ASUNM also released a video that challenges students to reach out to their state legislators and demand an increase in funding for the scholarship, which can be found on their Facebook page.
McSorley said there will be no plans concerning the Lottery Scholarship this session due to the likelihood of a veto by Martinez.
“This governor will veto everything we put in front of her,” McSorley said during a recent town hall meeting. “We’re waiting until next year.”
This year UNM Day will be held in Santa Fe on Jan. 29 from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Those wishing to participate must be Lottery Scholarship recipients and attend a training on Jan. 18 at 10:30 p.m. or Jan. 19 at 2:00 p.m. at the SUB in Acoma A.
“We encourage students to partake in UNM Day and call their legislator,” Michelsohn said.
Ludella Awad is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @LudellaAwad.
Kyle Land is a news editor with the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @kyleoftheland.