AZ Lottery Remains Committed To Education And Pays Off Student’s Med School Debt

Written By Derek Helling on April 22, 2021

Usually getting money from the lottery involves buying a ticket or a scratch-off game. An Arizona Lottery education award is offering financial assistance to one medical student who didn’t have to gamble at all.

The AZ Lottery’s gesture will impact many lives by helping the med student treat patients in rural areas of the state. Because the lottery gets its revenue through ticket sales, ticket purchasers also played a role in the story.

Arizona Lottery award relieves burden of student debt

On April 8, Mary Beth Putz got a welcome surprise. Putz is a third-year medical student at the University of Arizona. She’s also a native Arizonian. At a ceremony with Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and AZ Lottery Executive Director Gregg Edgar, Putz received a check for $35,000.

The money will go to help defray the cost of Putz’s education. Those who practice medicine can finish their training with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. As a result, they must seek jobs with high wages to repay their debts.

By extension, that limits where those professionals can work. Oftentimes, that means people in the poorest areas go without necessary medical attention. By alleviating her debt, the lottery will enable Putz to work in underserved areas.

“For me, working in some of those underprivileged areas, marginalized communities, it’s hard to do. They don’t pay a lot because the patients you’re working with aren’t able to pay all the time, but that’s where my passions lie,” Putz said.

Putz isn’t alone in getting educational funding from the state lottery. In fact, education is one of the causes that lottery sales benefit most every year.

AZ Lottery funding for education

In the fiscal year 2020 alone, the lottery dispersed nearly $40 million to fund higher education in the state. That consisted of over $39.4 million in bonds to in-state colleges and universities. The AZ Board of Regents depends on lottery payments to provide up to 80% of the cash to secure such bonds.

Additionally, the lottery shared a quarter of a million dollars in FY2020 with the Tribal College Dual Enrollment Fund. That fund enables Indigenous high school students in the state the opportunity to take college courses without having to pay tuition and other fees.

Education isn’t the only cause that the Arizona Lottery benefits. In fact, some of the same people who Putz may see as patients in the future benefit from the services of Healthy AZ. That non-profit organization focuses its efforts on delivering primary care in underserved communities. In FY2020, Healthy AZ got over $5.1 million from the state lottery.

Hopefully, education reform in the coming years will alleviate student debt for medical professionals on a long-term, sustainable basis. Part of every lottery ticket purchase in AZ will go toward improving the lives of Arizonians in these ways.

Photo by Bert Folsom |
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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