Majority of state’s financial aid based on academic merit, not financial need

August 19, 2013

CONTACT: Sharon Kayne, Communications Director, NM Voices for Children, 505-244-9505 

ALBUQUERQUE—Despite a recent uptick in lottery ticket sales, the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship Trust Fund will be almost empty by the end of the current fiscal year unless the Legislature acts in the coming session. The solvency of the fund would be improved if the Legislature were to limit the scholarship to students who could otherwise not afford college, according to a new report by New Mexico Voices for Children. But rebuilding the trust fund is not the only reason the scholarship should be changed to need-based aid.

“New Mexico is one of the poorest states in the nation, so it only makes sense that we do more to assist low-income families in putting their children through college,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D., Executive Director of the child advocacy agency. “Especially since a college education is one of the best ways to break the cycle of poverty,” she added.

The report notes that just 29 percent of the state’s financial aid is awarded on the basis of student financial need. What’s more, the amount of financial aid awarded that is not need-based has more than doubled over the last ten years, while need-based aid has grown by less than 50 percent.

“We’re exactly opposite the rest of the nation, where more than 70 percent of state financial aid is based on need,” said Gerry Bradley, Senior Research and Policy Analyst and report author. “The lottery scholarship is available to students regardless of their financial means. It doesn’t make sense to subsidize the education of students whose parents could afford to send them to college without financial aid when we have so many students whose parents can’t,” he added.

Increases in tuition over the last several years have put added pressure on low-income students as well as the lottery scholarship trust fund. The trust fund has also been stressed due to increased demand for the scholarship and relatively flat revenue from lottery tickets sales.

The full report, “Going Broke: Tuition, Financial Need, and the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship,” is available online:


New Mexico Voices for Children is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children, families and communities. Our the Working Poor Families Project work is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Ford Foundation, Joyce Foundation, and Kresge Foundation, and is managed by Brandon Roberts + Associates.
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