Students at the University of New Mexico who receive the lottery scholarship have one less concern this summer. The New Mexico State Higher Education Department recently announced that New Mexico’s Legislative Lottery Scholarship (LLS) will cover all of the average tuition costs for students for the 2014 fall semester.

The announcement essentially means that tuition for eligible lottery scholarship recipients at the UNM’s main campus will be covered completely.

“This is good news for eligible UNM students as they will be fully funded as in the past,” said Terry Babbitt, associate vice president, Enrollment Management.

The LLS has recently changed due to insufficient funding and has resolved to make it sustainable. The lottery scholarship changes are the result of SB 347, a law passed earlier this year by the state legislature to determine scholarship amounts based on available funds in an effort to help offset declining scholarship revenues which in turn affect the long term solvency of the scholarship.

Awards are based on a sector average of tuition including research institutions, comprehensive four-year universities and community colleges. The average tuition of these institutions determines the maximum award amount. The new law determines scholarship amounts by dividing colleges and universities into three categories including research universities, comprehensive four-year colleges and two-year institutions. The average tuition for each group is then calculated separately.

The average tuition this fall, according to a letter from the HED, at the three research universities in the state, which include UNM, New Mexico State and New Mexico Tech, is $2519 for the fall semester. This covers 100 percent of UNM’s tuition amount of $2,503 as long as students are taking the recommended 15 credit hours. Student fees are not, and have never been included in the LSS awards.

Under the new law to qualify for the scholarship, students at research and comprehensive universities must take 15 credit hours a semester, an increase of three credit hours from the past, to qualify for a scholarship. Students have also been divided into two groups under the new law including legacy and non-legacy students. A legacy student is a student who has received three or more semester of awards by the end of spring of 2014. If a student meets this requirement they are only required to complete 12 credit hours regardless if the student is at a four-year or two year institution. Newcomers to the lottery scholarship are considered non-legacy students.

“It is critical to remember that UNM students who are new in Fall 2014 or first received the LLS in Fall 2013 or later will need to complete 15 credit hours for initial and continuous eligibility,” Babbitt said.

The news is not so good for students at four-year comprehensive colleges and two-year schools. Students at two-year schools, including UNM branch campuses in Gallup, Los Alamos, Taos and Valencia, will have to pay a bit more because tuition is higher than the allowed average of $643. The average tuition at UNM’s branch campuses varies from $750 to $850 per semester.

Students at four-year comprehensive schools such as Eastern New Mexico, Highlands, Northern New Mexico and Western New Mexico universities will also have to cover any differences between the average tuition of $1,570 and the actual tuition, which varies by institution. Some community colleges and comprehensives will be fully covered due to the average cost.

“The Higher Education Department will assess factors such as the number of students awarded in the fall and Lottery revenue projections to determine final Spring 2015 awards, but they currently believe those will also be the full amount of the sector averages,” Babbitt said.

Other changes will likely limit probation status for students who do not meet requirements after being on the scholarship so it is critical to maintain the 2.5 grade point average and minimum hour requirement. LLS scholarships are automatically awarded to eligible students. UNM recommends all students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to maximize their available funding.

The HED is required by law to provide the notice by June 1.

For more information, visit: Legislative Lottery Scholarship.