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A scholarship intended to encourage high school graduates to attend in-state colleges and universities in New Mexico may have to pay tuition for a 36-year-old with two degrees, a judge says. A lawsuit filed by Bradley K. Lord-Leutwyler is pending, but state District Judge Theresa Baca said at a January hearing that a loophole in state law may force New Mexico to pay his tuition. Lord-Leutwyler, an attorney, moved to New Mexico from Alaska to take advantage of the Lottery Scholarship and pursue a physics degree. He passed the test for his high-school equivalency diploma after moving to the state, making him eligible for the scholarship. Although he has a political science degree from Oregon State University and a law degree from Willamette University, he contends he never graduated from high school. Baca said she believed the Legislature set up the scholarships intending to let older high school dropouts get an equivalency diploma, then pursue higher education. “Most people who do that, however … have not gone on and gotten an undergraduate degree and gotten a legal degree and become a member of the bar of two states,” Baca said. “That’s what sticks in everybody’s craw.” The state attorney general’s office maintains Lord-Leutwyler is ineligible for the scholarship and made false statements to the court about his prior degrees. Transcripts acquired by the state show Lord-Leutwyler graduated from Hillsboro High School in Oregon. He contends they’re wrong. Assistant Attorney General David Thomson said if the Legislature intended to give the scholarship to someone with undergraduate and law degrees, “we’ve raised absurdity to a new level.” “That would deprive scholarship money from the deserving New Mexico high school graduates who depend on it to get their first degrees,” he said. Lord-Leutwyler said it makes perfect sense for New Mexico to offer incentives to someone like him because he wants to stay in the state and teach math and physics. He said that to his shock, he was accepted to Oregon State without having a high school diploma. He enrolled at the University of New Mexico last fall. When UNM and the state Commission on Higher Education informed him he was not eligible for the scholarship, he sought a court order to grant him the scholarship. The commission’s executive director Bruce Hamlett said the board is expected to close the loophole in April to make the scholarship available only to students pursuing a first degree. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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