Lottery scholarship gets house support

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SANTA FE — A bill sponsored by Rep. Bill O’Neill, D-Albuquerque, that would allow New Mexico high school graduates a 16-month period to enroll in college and take advantage of New Mexico lottery scholarships moved closer to becoming law today.  
HB 62 passed the House with a vote of 63-0.
“The fact that this bill passed unanimously highlights the support that this logical and important legislation has on both sides of the aisle,” O’Neill said.
Currently, students must enroll in a New Mexico public college or university within 120 days after graduation from high school or having received a GED to receive funds from the New Mexico Legislative Lottery Scholarship.  
This bill also would extend that enrollment time to a full 16 months.  According to the Higher Education Department, lengthening the time from high school graduation to college matriculation may help students not prepared for college (either academically or emotionally) to remove potential obstacles to success.
The bill would also give students who graduated from high school early and people who earned their GED near the end of the academic year, access to legislative lottery scholarships.  
Under the current rules, these people generally cannot take advantage of lottery scholarships because of time constraints.  
The New Mexico Lottery states that more than 68,000 New Mexicans have taken advantage of the lottery scholarships since the program began in 1996.
HB 62 would maintain other existing qualifications for students to receive the legislative lottery scholarship, which include proof of New Mexico residency based on tuition requirements; a student must have graduated from a New Mexico public or accredited private school or obtained a New Mexico GED; full-time enrollment at an eligible New Mexico public college or university; and the student must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5 to retain the scholarship for the following semester.