The Associated Students of UNM hosted a summit on Friday at the SUB to discuss possible upcoming changes to the Legislative Lottery Scholarship.
The summit was attended by student representatives from colleges and universities across the state. It was coordinated by the efforts of the state’s student governments to work together in adequately representing the needs of students in New Mexico affected by the Lottery Scholarship, participants of the summit said.
Students from New Mexico State University, Western New Mexico University and Highlands University were in attendance to give their insight, ASUNM representatives said.
“This is the first time that we have tried to put on anything of this scale,” said ASUNM President Jenna Hagengruber. “We invited state legislatures, representatives and senators, student governments from across the state and administrators, so I think we hit a really big ground.”
The summit covered many issues regarding the Lottery Scholarship, including the state of the economy, the challenges of the scholarship and the needs of students. Students poured in and out of the ballroom throughout the morning as state officials spoke on the topic, and in the afternoon students were led by ASUNM senators in round table discussions.
In the past, a lack of communication between ASUNM and the Graduate and Professional Student Association has caused conflict and disagreements with respect to what steps should be taken to keep the Lottery Scholarship stable, and how they can make their state representatives aware of the issues affecting students statewide, ASUNM officials said.
“If we come together on something this big, it must be important,” said Associated Students of NMSU President Dustin Chavez. “We have been getting together since the start of the summer to try to serve the students better. On larger issues like this, it benefits everyone to work together.”
For the past 20 years, 87 percent of lottery scholarship tuition has been allocated to three primary institutions: UNM, NMSU and New Mexico Tech. Only 13 percent goes to the other 22 postsecondary institutions.
“There are so many students on the Lottery Scholarship currently,” said ASUNM Vice President Alex Cervantes. “If we don’t find a solvency solution shortly, the amount we are funding the students is going to continue to go down because we don’t have a revenue source, until we no longer have a way to fund students that are needing this money to go to college.”
That is one of the primary concerns many students who are dependent on the Lottery Scholarship through college have. The scholarship is benefiting an estimated 25,000 students across the state this fall, including 6,500 from UNM. That funding is covering 90 percent of students’ tuition, but at the start of fiscal year 2017 that figure will drop to 61 percent, ASUNM officials said.
ASUNM, along with the other local universities’ student governments, will continue to hold summits, conferences and open forums throughout the semester and year, ASUNM officials said.
“When we go forward to Santa Fe, I cannot go up there necessarily and say that my name is Jenna and I represent the students,” Hagengruber said. “So what we need to do is be able to say, ‘we represent UNM, and they represent New Mexico State, and they represent Tech, and they represent Eastern; and together, we, as the students of the state of New Mexico, support this specific change in the lottery.’”
Kayla Root is a freelance writer with the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DailyLobo.