Montana Scholarships and Grants
The rural setting of Montana in conjunction with the earnings of its citizens poses a number of problems for students searching to continue their education at a college or university. Montana is not home to a great number of universities, meaning many students seek relocation for the means of continuing education.
For those looking to stay within the state’s boundaries, financial difficulties are still prevalent. The state of Montana affords its population of future college students a number of programs for financial assistance.
Grants and scholarships are offered to students in Montana in many different formats. Though the terms are different, the definitions of scholarship and grant are virtually interchangeable. Each award is given in the form of funds or foundation for education and does not need to be repaid.
Students should be able to seek a scholarship or grant catered to their skill set, high school experience, ethnicity or financial background.
In addition to the scholarships based on educational experience and family background, there are a number of options for students in Montana who ply their skills in a trade native to the region or stand as a verified member of a Montana tribe.
The Native American heritage of Montana has resulted in populations of descendents who regularly receive aid in the form of scholarships and grants, while those who tended the ranches and land of the regions may qualify based on that affinity. Montana, specifically, has a number of trades that support its local economies and maintain its resources.
Occasionally, scholarships and grants are given in the form of money intended for education in a trade or career opportunity that will benefit the area from which the student stems.
Montana has a number of state programs listed with the Montana Higher Education Student Assistance Corporation. All applicants for grants in the state of Montana must have filed their FAFSA for eligibility. The filing of the FAFSA serves a dual purpose, however, as it will eke out any federal assistance offered in conjunction with state level scholarships and grants.
Awards are given on terms of merit or individual need, the former being most common among grant programs. In some cases, high schools will offer scholarships in the name of a past student or administrator who has given to the fund and students intending to attend college should be sure to contact their guidance counselor for information about local programs.
Some of the more common grant and scholarship options for students in Montana are as follows:
Pell Grant – The largest grant program designed for pursuit of secondary education, Pell Grants are given to undergraduate students without the burden of repayment.
The grants range from $450 to $4,050 and are available only once annually to full-time students who are registered at eligible colleges or universities. Pell Grants are only given to students who meet financial qualifications and haven’t received a bachelor’s or professional degree.
Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant – Given in increments from $100 to $4,000 a year, the SEOG was designed to help students in the direst financial need. In Montana, the average SEOG award given to students who qualified as needing additional financial help to attend a college or university was $600.
Montana Higher Education Grant – Need-based in the manner of most grant awards, the Montana Higher Education Grant is intended to target the neediest students. Specifically, the intention of this award is to afford college education to those students who might otherwise not have had the opportunity to attend. Funds given to a student in the form of a Montana Higher Education Grant are matched by the federal government, providing an added incentive for students seeking this award.
Montana Tuition Assistance Grant (Baker Grant) – The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for any student seeking a Baker Grant must be below $6,550 for eligibility. Awards in the form of a Baker Grant are limited and it is common for students to apply very early for consideration ahead of the masses.
Similar to the Montana Higher Education Grant, Baker Grants are aimed at needy students in the region who require financial assistance to proceed with payment of college tuition. Limits placed on the amount of money available in the form of Baker Grants necessitate early and aggressive submission by those who wish to receive the award.
Best and Brightest (Scholarship)
There are three distinct and separate scholarship programs that comprise the Governor’s Best and Brightest Scholarship Series. The cash rewards for students who qualify for earnings in this program are based on academic prowess and financial need. Details of the three scholarship programs are as follows:
- Need-based – Awarded through individual colleges or universities with state funds, the need-based awards of the Best and Brightest Program are predetermined and free to give.
- High School Merit Scholarship – Students enrolling in either a two-year or traditional four-year degree program can apply for merit awards if they boast a GPA of 3.0 of higher. The $2,000 given annually through the merit scholarship is renewable for a maximum of four years.
- Merit-at-Large Scholarship – One unique aspect of the Governor’s Best and Brightest Scholarship Series is the offer of funds for students considered non-traditional in their experience or aspirations. Like the Merit Scholarship, the Merit-at-Large award is offered at $2,000 for any two or four-year college or university in Montana.
Additional Montana Scholarship and Grants (Based on Ethnicity, Merit, Educational Program and Need)
- Fort Peck Tribes Scholarship Program – Any members of the Assiniboine or Sioux populations of the Fort Peck Tribes can apply for the Fort Peck program. Need-based awards of $1,800 to $3,600 annually are given to about 200 applicants who seek undergraduate college education. The Fort Peck program requires submissions for spring or Fall Semester be received by July of the same year, with summer submissions at an April deadline.
- Montana Federation of Garden Clubs Scholarship – Intended as motivation for the continued pursuit of the natural sciences, Life Members Montana Federation of Garden Clubs facilitates this award of $1,000. Any student from Montana who seeks to pursue a degree in any number of majors related to plants and the environment – horticulture, forestry, greenhouse management, parks administration and related studies – is eligible with registration at a Montana university or college who offers such courses.
- Montana University System Honors Scholarship – Elite students winning this reward are granted full-tuition at any four-year public university in the state. Qualifications for the Montana University System Honors Scholarship are highly competitive, with only students above a 3.4 GPA qualifying for entry. Winners of the 200 scholarships are determined by rank in class and ACT score.
- Montana Cattlewomen Scholarship – In the spirit of Montana’s prevalent livestock industry, the Cattlewomen Scholarship is available to those in attendance at a Montana university who claim at least a sophomore status. Students majoring in any course of study related to the livestock industry will be given preference to this award given as $1,000 lump sum. The winner of the Montana Cattlewomen Scholarship is determined by a committee who reviews candidates with at least a 2.7 GPA. Potential for success, academic achievements and financial need are all considered when determining which student will receive the funds.
- Community College Honor Scholarship – Complementing the Montana University System Honors Scholarship, the Community College Honor Scholarship is given to students who transfer to a four-year state university for completion of a Bachelor’s degree after finishing a two-year Associate’s degree at any Montana Community College. The scholarship, given in the form of a year’s full tuition, is intended to ease the burden of those students transferring from community colleges and to encourage continuing education beyond an Associate’s Degree level.
There are a number of other programs available for students in the state of Montana, and any student would be best served by contacting their guidance counselor or financial aid advisor. For students already attending a college or university who seek additional financial assistance based on need or merit, the Montana Higher Education Student Assistance Corporation is a valuable resource for research.
When applying for scholarships and grants, it is imperative to project complete transparency in terms of financial and educational goals. The federal government’s programs for financial aid are also valuable resources for students who find they lack the necessary assistance for registration or completion of college study.
Generally, once eligibility has been determined, the most successful philosophy is to apply wherever money is available in hopes that funds will be designated and awarded.