The Associated Students of UNM (ASUNM) wanted to hear from students and members of the community regarding the Lottery Scholarship at the open forum they hosted Monday, Feb. 17 in SUB Ballroom C. They got their wish, as more than 100 people attended and listened to 18 stories that ranged from heartfelt to practical.
A consistent theme from most speakers was staunch opposition to the Lottery Fund Solvency Act, a plan that would increase the qualifying GPA to 2.75 from 2.5 with a minimum course requirement of 15 hours. A large majority spoke to the inability for poorer communities to successfully manage employment, family and being a full time student in order to receive the Lottery Scholarship under the new rules.
“I have a friend who works full time, more than 40 hours a week, who is an active member of the community, does human rights work and is a first generation student. There is no way to do 15 hours plus work… the proposal is not possible for most students. We need to look at the kids who will be directly affected by this,” said UNM student Brittany Arneson.
One student, however, felt the solvency plan could do more to encourage responsibility. “If the GPA [requirement] needs to go up to 2.7, we need to spend an extra few hours on school work to stay here. I work 20 hours a week with 19 credit hours this semester and do whatever I can to keep my GPA high. We should demand excellence from ourselves… this is our power, not the legislators',” said, Christina, a UNM student who shared with the audience.
The future of the Legislative Lottery Scholarship is still undecided, but a conclusion is expected within a matter of days, making the voices heard at the open forum more relevant than ever. If lawmakers do not come to an agreement on how to solve the dilemma, the burden will be placed on New Mexico Higher Education Department Secretary Dr. José Garcia, which could result in award amounts dropping to about 60 to 65 percent of the cost of tuition.