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Campus News
     
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: January 21, 2003
Volume 38, Number 12

Spotlight

Martinez helps New Mexicans achieve college dreams

By Carolyn Gonzales

Ron MartinezDirector of Student Financial Aid Ron Martinez says “time’s a wastin’” to turn in financial aid applications. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is due March 1 for UNM, but the earlier students submit their applications, the greater likelihood that sufficient funds will still be available.

“Some funds, like Pell grants and direct student loans, don’t run out, but other financial aid options have limited funds,” he said.

Martinez has been director at UNM since 1997, the same year the Lottery Success Scholarship was established. His office took on both the lottery and bridge scholarships in 1998. Until then, the Financial Aid and Scholarship Offices had been separate entities but they were combined again in 2002.

“As a result of the lottery scholarship program, the number of incoming freshmen at UNM skyrocketed,” he said. The freshman class in 1996-97 was approximately 1,600. The following year it rose to 2,150 and by 1998-99, it was up to 2,700. “Only about 300 to 400 of those new freshman each year are non-residents. We potentially have about 1,900 new freshman trying to become eligible for the lottery scholarship next semester.”

Martinez said that the lottery scholarship represented a little less than $10 million in financial aid to UNM this past year.
“We award approximately $125 million in financial aid annually. The lottery scholarship program only represents eight percent of the total, but it is a significant eight percent,” he said.

Martinez said the rules might be changing for students applying for the Lottery Success Scholarship. The Commission on Higher Education is looking to require lottery scholarship students to submit a FAFSA. The final decision likely rests with the New Mexico Legislature, he said, and although, if passed, it may require another level of bureaucracy, it could become a good decision. “Need-based financial aid can help students cover additional expenses, such as fees, books, transportation, and room and board,” he said.

Need-based aid could also help students who don’t maintain the 2.5 GPA required for the lottery scholarship. “Students can continue on need-based financial aid with a 2.0 GPA,” he said.

Martinez grew up in Greeley, Colo., but claims New Mexico roots. “My parents are from Cebolla, near Tierra Amarilla,” he said.

Martinez holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Northern Colorado, in Greeley, and served as their director of financial aid in the early 1980s. He then worked as financial aid director at Western Washington University. Before coming to New Mexico he worked for The College Board, based out of San Jose, Calif.

He promised his wife, Yvonne, that they would stay put for awhile because of their daughter, Alexis, now a fifth grader at Dennis Chavez Elementary School. “Also, Yvonne deserves to build up her own retirement,” he said. She is the assistant registrar at Albuquerque TVI.

Martinez still thinks ahead. He’s enrolled in a doctoral program in Educational Leadership through the College of Education. His long-term goals include moving up in university administration. “I see lots of turnover in higher education in the next decade,” he said.

Martinez doesn’t wait for deadlines. He’s ahead of the game.