Is the lottery sending Mega Millions to local education?

Is the lottery sending Mega Millions to local education? »Play Video
CENTRAL WASH. -- There are six numbers people across the country are waiting for.

Friday night's Mega Millions drawing will decide who gets a share of the largest lottery jackpot in history.

In Union Gap people stopped by the Union Gap Food Mart by the dozens, to buy their Mega Millions ticket for chance to win that $640-million.

"Mega?...Yeah," asked a very busy store clerk to customers trying their luck to win the jackpot.

"That's the winning ticket!" said another clerk.

There was no shortage of people looking for a piece of the record jackpot.

But only half of the money paid for a Mega Millions ticket goes to the prizes while the other half stays in Washington.

Twenty percent of that helps pay for education.

Until 2010, lottery money went specifically to school construction projects.

Now, it goes towards state grants, scholarships, work study and pre-k education.

Action News spoke with a college student who says he wouldn't be able to afford school without state grants and work study.

"Before I started working in school, I was jobless for a while. I live alone so I need the money for groceries, rent, my phone," said YVCC Student Ignacio Lopez.

Action News pulled the numbers and found between 2009 and 2011, the state spent more than 25.5 billion dollars on education.

The state lottery contributed about $335 million to it, which is only 1.3% of the total education budget.

Certainly not a lifesaver for schools, but administrators say everything helps.

"The federal aid doesn't cover the total costs. So many students need that state need grant in order to buy their books, to have transportation, child-care," said YVCC President Linda Kaminski.

Representatives of the Washington lottery believe the contributions have made a difference.

Local school districts agree saying any support for education is valuable.

According to the Washington lottery, close to a billion dollars has been given to education since the early 1980's.