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New Mexico Higher Education Department officials announced last week that a state lottery scholarship will cover full tuition for in-state students at public universities or tribal colleges this upcoming academic year. It will be the first time in six years that the lottery will cover full tuition; it paid the full cost of tuition for eligible students from 1996 to 2015.

“Inability to afford the rising cost of a college education continues to be a barrier for too many students to pursuing degrees that will benefit not only themselves, but our state overall,” department secretary Stephanie Rodriguez said in a press release.

The scholarship will be funded at $63.5 million for fiscal year 2022, a 30 percent increase from the year prior, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

More than 20 percent of undergraduates enrolled in New Mexico during the 2019-20 academic year received the lottery scholarship, according to the department. New Mexico students must be enrolled in a state public or tribal college within 16 months of graduating high school to be eligible for the scholarship. They must also complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, attend college full-time and maintain a 2.5 GPA in their first semester.

“A lot of students will be relieved that paying for school is one more thing they don’t have to worry about,” Mathew Madrid, president of the Associated Students of New Mexico State University, said in a press release.