Skip to Content

Does New Mexico still have the lottery scholarship?

Yes, New Mexico still has the lottery scholarship program in 2023. The New Mexico Lottery Scholarship was created in 1996 to provide financial assistance to qualifying New Mexico high school graduates and students attending New Mexico colleges and universities. The program is funded by the New Mexico Lottery and provides tuition assistance for up to seven semesters of full-time enrollment at New Mexico public colleges and universities. To qualify, students must be a New Mexico resident, graduate from a New Mexico high school or obtain a New Mexico GED, and enroll in a New Mexico public college within 16 months of high school graduation or GED obtainment. Students must also maintain at least a 2.5 GPA and complete at least 12 credit hours per semester to remain eligible. The scholarship covers full tuition at New Mexico public colleges and universities or a portion of tuition at New Mexico private colleges and tribal colleges. Over the years, the requirements and award amounts have been adjusted due to lottery revenues and demand, but the program still continues to provide invaluable support for New Mexico students pursuing higher education within the state.

History and Creation of the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship

The New Mexico Lottery Scholarship was enacted in 1995 through the passage of the New Mexico Lottery Tuition Fund Act. The legislation authorized the creation of a state lottery with the specific purpose of generating revenue for tuition assistance at New Mexico colleges and universities. The New Mexico Lottery began ticket sales in April 1996 and the first lottery scholarships were awarded to the high school graduating class of 1996-1997. Since its inception, the program has provided over $1 billion in assistance to over 170,000 students.

The lottery scholarship was pioneered by New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who made education reform and support for higher education central components of his 1994 election campaign. Governor Johnson proposed using lottery revenues to fund full-tuition scholarships as a means of encouraging New Mexico students to pursue postsecondary education within the state and also attracting students from other states. The proposal gained bipartisan support from the New Mexico legislature and the Lottery Tuition Fund Act was passed in March 1995. The legislation authorized a state-run lottery system and stipulated that a minimum of 30% of gross lottery revenues be dedicated to a tuition fund for state students.

The New Mexico Lottery launched ticket sales in April 1996 after a statewide referendum demonstrated public support. By 1997, the lottery had generated enough revenue to fund initial scholarship awards. The first class of lottery scholars were 1996-1997 public high school graduates who enrolled at New Mexico colleges that fall semester. In the early years of the program, the scholarship covered full tuition at all public New Mexico higher education institutions. This included two-year community colleges and four-year universities. The program was an immediate success and provided an accessible pathway to higher education for thousands of New Mexico students.

Lottery Scholarship Eligibility Requirements

The New Mexico Lottery Scholarship has specific eligibility requirements that students must meet initially and continue meeting to maintain their award funding semester after semester. The basic eligibility criteria include:

– New Mexico residency – Students must demonstrate they are legal New Mexico residents. This typically requires having lived in the state for at least one year prior to initial enrollment.

– High school diploma or equivalent – Students must have graduated from a New Mexico public or accredited private high school. Graduates from out-of-state high schools or New Mexico residents with a GED are also eligible.

– Enrollment – Students must enroll full-time at an eligible New Mexico public college or university. This includes two-year community colleges.

– Initial deadlines – Students must apply for admission and enroll in their chosen institution within 16 months of high school graduation or GED obtainment. This encourages timely progression to higher education.

– Minimum GPA – Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. This GPA standard must be met at the end of each grading period to continue receiving the scholarship.

– Minimum credit hours – Students must complete at least 12 credit hours per semester. This qualifies as full-time enrollment for scholarship purposes.

Meeting these requirements initially qualifies graduating high school students for the lottery scholarship. Remaining eligible and maintaining the award funding requires continuing to meet the minimum GPA, credit hour, and other standards each semester. The lottery scholarship is available for up to seven semesters of continuous full-time enrollment. Funding is lost if students fail to meet the requirements for a semester.

Lottery Scholarship Award Amounts

The lottery scholarship provides enough funding to cover full tuition at New Mexico public colleges and universities. In the early years of the program, the scholarship covered 100% of tuition no matter which public institution a student attended in the state. As demand grew and lottery revenues fluctuated, changes were made to the coverage amounts and policies. Here is an overview of current lottery scholarship awards:

– Research state universities – The scholarship covers 100% of undergraduate tuition at New Mexico’s research universities. This includes University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, and New Mexico Tech.

– Comprehensive state universities – The scholarship covers 100% of tuition at New Mexico’s comprehensive universities. This group includes Eastern New Mexico University, Western New Mexico University, and Northern New Mexico College.

– Community colleges – The scholarship covers 100% of tuition at New Mexico’s community colleges. This currently includes 17 two-year public colleges located throughout the state.

– Private/tribal colleges – Students attending accredited private or tribal colleges in New Mexico receive a specified amount per semester. For 2022-2023 this amount is $795 per semester.

– Mandatory student fees – The lottery scholarship does not cover mandatory college fees such as technology fees, activity fees, online fees, etc. Students are responsible for these costs.

– Room and board – The scholarship only covers tuition. Students are responsible for paying their own room and board costs, books, and other expenses beyond tuition.

The lottery scholarship provides invaluable financial assistance, but recipients still have significant college costs beyond just tuition that they must pay out of pocket or cover with other aid. The program aims to maximize the number of students supported based on available lottery revenues each year.

Changes to the Lottery Scholarship Over Time

Since starting in 1996, the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship has undergone various changes and adjustments to policies, requirements, and award amounts. These changes were implemented by the state legislature and lottery board in response to factors such as:

– Fluctuating lottery revenues – Ticket sales revenues increase and decrease year to year based on the economy and other factors. This impacts how much funding is available for the scholarship program.

– Rising higher education costs – As college tuition steadily rises each year, it becomes more expensive to maintain full tuition scholarships. This necessitates policy changes to control costs.

– High demand – The popularity of the program led to exponential growth in applications and enrollment. Accommodating this volume required changes to ensure sustainability.

Here are some significant changes that have been implemented over the years:

– 2005 – Minimum GPA increased from 2.0 to 2.5 to encourage academic performance. Credit hour requirement also increased from 12 to 15 hours.

– 2010 – Maximum eligibility period reduced from 8 semesters to 7 consecutive semesters to control costs.

– 2014 – Credit requirement changed back to 12 hours due to evidence students were taking unnecessary extra credits.

– 2016 – Community college tuition coverage reduced to cover only up to 15 credit hours per semester.

– 2017 – Tuition coverage at research universities limited by a 5% annual increase cap.

– 2022 – Universal coverage at all institutions changed to current specified award amounts based on institution type.

The changes demonstrate how the program has adapted over time to continue serving students amid economic fluctuations and rising education costs. The lottery scholarship still remains a significant benefit to college access and affordability in New Mexico.

Importance and Impact of the Lottery Scholarship

Since its inception in 1996, the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship has provided critical support for higher education access and success in the state. Some key figures that demonstrate the importance and impact of the program include:

– Over 170,000 students supported – The lottery scholarship so far has provided financial aid for more than 170,000 New Mexico students attending college since 1996.

– Over $1 billion awarded – Cumulatively, over $1 billion in lottery scholarship funding has been distributed to New Mexico students to support their higher education.

– Increased enrollment – Initial implementation of the lottery scholarship correlated with a significant boost in recent New Mexico high school graduates enrolling in-state at public colleges and universities.

– Increased degree completion – Degree and certificate completion numbers have increased substantially in New Mexico since the advent of the lottery scholarship program. More financial support aids persistence and graduation.

– Access for low-income students – A high proportion of lottery scholarship recipients are from lower income families and ethnic minorities. This indicates the program improves access and equity in higher education.

– Support for working adults – Many part-time and non-traditional adult students have also benefitted from the scholarship program over the years.

The New Mexico Lottery Scholarship has opened the doors of higher education for thousands of New Mexico residents and supported significantly improved college participation and success over the last 25+ years. The program continues providing critical financial aid for students and families who rely on the tuition assistance.

Current Status and Future Outlook

The New Mexico Lottery Scholarship is still going strong as of the 2022-2023 academic year. However, there are concerns about its future given rising costs and pressures on the lottery revenues that fund it. Here are some key points about the current status and future outlook:

– Still high demand – The lottery scholarship remains very popular, with over 10,000 recipients statewide currently depending on it for tuition assistance. Many see it as essential to affordability.

– Under financial pressure – Increased tuition rates and enrollment demand put pressure on keeping scholarship funding amounts adequate amid limited lottery revenues.

– Legislative debates – Policymakers continue debating how to ensure the program’s sustainability and purpose amid economic constraints. Further changes are likely.

– Supplemental aid needed – Most recipients require supplemental financial aid beyond the lottery scholarship to cover additional college costs. Access to federal and other aid remains crucial.

– Importance endures – The lottery scholarship still provides tremendous value for New Mexico students and higher education. Preserving this importance necessitates continued innovation in program policies and requirements.

While challenges exist, the overall outlook remains positive for the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship to continue providing critical tuition assistance for the state’s college students into the future. The program has already proved its significance in improving higher education access and success for New Mexicans over the past 25+ years.


The New Mexico Lottery Scholarship program has provided invaluable support for higher education in the state since starting in 1996. This unique scholarship leverages lottery revenues to make college more accessible and affordable for New Mexico residents pursuing two-year or four-year degrees at public institutions statewide. The program has already distributed over $1 billion in assistance to 170,000+ New Mexico students and significantly expanded access and success. While some changes have occurred, the lottery scholarship endures as an essential component of college affordability and opportunity in New Mexico. The program still faces financial pressures due to rising costs, but policy innovations and continued public support can help secure its future sustainability. For tens of thousands of New Mexico families over the last 25+ years, the lottery scholarship has opened the door to higher education and a better life.