UNM GPA Calculation Steals Lottery Scholarship From Transfer Students


The University of New Mexico’s transfer policy unfairly computes student GPA’s and denies deserving transfer students the Lottery Scholarship. Although UNM’s policy for transfer GPA’s is in compliance with federal regulations, it is unfair and damaging to some of the most needy students.

The New Mexico Lottery Scholarship requires that students maintain an overall 2.5 GPA to qualify for the upcoming semesters. UNM calculates a traditional students GPA by dividing the students quality points by credit hours earned at UNM. A transfer student’s GPA is calculated in the same manner, but it only includes classes attempted at UNM. All of the classes completed at other institutions and accepted by UNM are counted towards total credit hours for graduation, but they are not used in the GPA calculation.

That may not seem like a big deal, but it was for one student that we know. There are many more like her, but this is her story. She is a first generation Mexican-American whose family is very low-income. She grew up and graduated from a town that has a 50% drop-out rate. She was in the top 10% of her class, but did not do very well on the ACT. She applied to UNM, but the University said that her ACT score was low and that she was not accepted. Crushed, she applied to CNM and began school in the Fall after graduation.

She worked hard and completed the 24 credit hours at CNM that UNM requires for transfer. She had a 3.2 GPA at CNM. She applied to UNM and was accepted. She started this Fall and took 15 credit hours. Unfortunately she finished the semester with a 2.48 GPA at UNM. It is her first full semester at UNM, but the University considers her a sophomore. Despite her status, UNM only counted the 15 hours that she took at UNM and disqualified her from the Lottery Scholarship. She went to the Financial Aid office and they told her that her only alternative is to take out student loans.

Most transfer students come from low-income situations and tend to be first generation college students. Starting at UNM can be challenging the first semester. UNM should take a student’s individual circumstances into account when determining eligibility. They should count the students transfer credits in the GPA calculation for the Lottery Scholarship. They could calculate the students University GPA separately. This new calculation system would allow transfer students a little leeway when getting adjusted to the pace at UNM. It is a simple fix. These students obviously want to get an education or they would not have taken the path that they did. They should not be treated the same as first semester freshman students.

Sometimes we need to address the unfairness of bureaucratic systems. The Lottery Scholarship is designed to help students who need it the most. Yet those same students are the ones who are hurt the most by the system. Transfer students need to be treated the same as other students who have the same amount of academic credit. It is understandable that classes completed at other institutions should not be included in UNM’s overall GPA, but it seems only fair that they should be counted in a GPA for Lottery Scholarship GPA.

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