Some of the most amazing nature-sightseeing adventures you could ever go on would be in Montana. The western portion of the state is covered by the Rocky Mountains. The eastern portion of the state is covered by the Great Plains and the Badlands. You could visit many different outdoor parks including Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park and Makoshika State Park.

These features make Montana a great place to visit, but the state’s college financial aid programs also make it a great place for its residents to receive a higher education.

Some of Montana’s super helpful college financial aid programs include the Montana University System Honor Scholarship, the Montana STEM and Healthcare Scholarship and the 2 Plus 2 Honor Scholarship.

Montana University System Honor Scholarship

The Montana University System (MUS) Honor Scholarship is a merit-based, four-year renewable award that waives tuition for a recipient at an eligible public Montana postsecondary institution. This scholarship does not cover mandatory fees or class fees though.

To be eligible for the MUS Honor Scholarship, a student must:

  • Be a Montana resident
  • Be graduating from a Montana high school
    • The student must also have been enrolled full-time at the Montana high school for at least three years including the student’s senior year.
  • Earn at least a cumulative 3.40 GPA by the end of their seventh semester of high school
  • Be on track to meet the Montana Board of Regents’ rigorous core requirements by high school graduation
  • Take the ACT or SAT by December 31 of the student’s senior year of high school
  • Complete and submit the MUS Honor Scholarship application during the year of the student’s high school graduation
  • Be accepted into an eligible Montana postsecondary institution

All portions of the scholarship’s application must be completed and submitted by the March 15 deadline; there are no exceptions to the rule. This includes taking the ACT or SAT, being accepted into an eligible Montana college, registering to apply for the scholarship online and mailing in the physical application.

The mailed-in, paper application needs to include:

  • A copy of the student’s official seventh semester transcript with a list of all the high school classes a student has taken plus the student’s cumulative GPA
  • A copy of the student’s college acceptance letter
  • Proof of the student’s ACT or SAT test score and test date
  • The student’s high school counselor’s signature in the designated spots

A student is chosen to be a recipient of the scholarship based on their GPA and test scores, though the selection process is a meticulous process.

Each high school ranks their eligible students by GPA. The highest GPA in each high school is given 30 points, the next is given 29 points and so on until all students with at least a 3.40 GPA are ranked. These points are then added to each student’s ACT score (or SAT-equivalent score) to create a composite score. The students with the highest composite scores across all of Montana receive the MUS Honor Scholarship.

There are typically up to 200 scholarships to give to students in a given academic year. These awards are typically worth $5,000 per academic year or $20,000 over the course of four academic years. A student can also only use the scholarship for eight semesters total and it must first be used within nine months of the student’s high school graduation.

The student’s high school counselor will be alerted if the student has been chosen as a recipient. The student will also be notified by mail. It is important to respond and accept the scholarship as soon as possible once a student receives the notice.

In order for a student to renew the MUS Honor Scholarship each year, they must:

  • Maintain at least a cumulative 3.40 GPA per academic year
  • Complete a minimum of 30 credit hours after two semesters, 60 credit hours after four semesters and 90 credit hours after six semesters
  • Abide by the school’s student conduct code
  • Remain continuously enrolled each fall and spring semester for the scholarships’ duration

Montana STEM and Healthcare Scholarship

The Montana STEM and Healthcare Scholarship is a merit-based award that provides incentive for Montana high school students to prepare for and attend college to earn STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and healthcare degrees. The goal of the program is to eventually increase the amount of STEM and healthcare degree holders in Montana’s workforce.

To be eligible for the scholarship, a student must:

  • Be a Montana resident
  • Attend and be graduating from a Montana high school
  • Earn at least a cumulative 3.25 GPA in high school as of their seventh semester
  • Complete four years of college prep math and three years of college prep science in high school
  • Complete and submit the Montana STEM and Healthcare scholarship application the year they graduate from high school
  • Apply to and be accepted into an eligible Montana postsecondary institution
  • Be seeking their first certificate, two-year degree or four-year degree
  • Declare a qualifying STEM or healthcare major
  • Be enrolled as a full-time student in a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester
  • Attend the eligible college the first fall semester following the student’s high school graduation

All portions of the scholarship’s application must be completed and submitted by the March 15 deadline; there are no exceptions to the rule. This includes being accepted into an eligible Montana college, registering to apply for the scholarship online and mailing in the physical application.

The mailed-in, paper application needs to include:

  • A copy of the student’s official seventh semester transcript with a list of all the high school classes a student has taken plus the student’s cumulative GPA
  • A copy of the student’s college acceptance letter
  • The student’s high school counselor’s signature in the designated spots verifying the completion of math and science class requirements

If a student is chosen as a recipient of the scholarship, they will receive $1,000 for their first academic year. The student can renew the scholarship for three more years. During their second and third academic years, the student will receive $1,500 each. During their fourth academic year, the student will receive $2,000.

In order to remain eligible, a student must:

  • Maintain at least a cumulative 3.00 GPA per academic year
  • Continue to pursue a qualifying STEM or healthcare major
  • Be continuously enrolled in classes
  • Be a full-time student taking at least 12 credit hours per semester
  • Complete a minimum of 30 credit hours after two semesters, 60 credit hours after four semesters and 90 credit hours after six semesters

A student does not need to fill out an application annually for the scholarship; the college keeps track of those details.

2 Plus 2 Honor Scholarship

The 2 Plus 2 Honor Scholarship is a merit-based and need-based award given to students who graduate with an associate degree from a two-year Montana college who go onto pursue a bachelor’s degree at a four-year Montana college.

Students will receive an undergraduate tuition waiver to use at any four-year Montana postsecondary institution for up to a total of four continuous semesters (fall and spring only). It does not cover mandatory fees or class fees and it cannot be used in conjunction with any other MUS tuition waiver.

To be eligible for the scholarship, a student must:

  • Be a Montana resident
  • Complete and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Demonstrate a financial need for funding
  • Complete and submit the 2 Plus 2 Honor Scholarship application by June of the year immediately following the student earning an associate degree from an eligible Montana two-year college
  • Have earned a minimum cumulative 3.40 GPA while earning the associate degree
  • Have been enrolled in and attending classes at the eligible Montana two-year college for at least two semesters prior to earning an associate degree
  • Be accepted by or enrolled in an eligible Montana four-year college
  • Begin utilizing the scholarship funds in the next chronological semester after receiving the associate degree (excluding the summer semester)

All portions of the scholarship’s application must be completed and submitted by the June 30 deadline; there are no exceptions to the rule. This includes being accepted into an eligible Montana college, filing FAFSA and mailing in the physical application.

The mailed-in, paper application needs to include:

  • A copy of the student’s official final transcript reflecting the student’s cumulative GPA
  • A copy of the student’s four-year college acceptance letter
  • Completed essay portion
  • The student’s signature in designated areas

During the selection process, applicants from each two-year Montana college are ranked by GPA, much like the MUS Honor Scholarship process. Students with the highest GPAs will be selected as recipients until each school’s allotted amount of scholarships runs out. Any GPA ties will be broken by the student who has the greater financial need; if the financial need is the same, the student with the better application essay will be chosen.

A scholarship recipient can renew funding for two academic years as long as they:

  • Complete a minimum of 30 credit hours per academic year
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative 3.40 GPA every academic year
  • Remain continuously enrolled each fall and spring semester for the duration of the scholarship.

Major Montana Colleges and Universities

Montana may have just under 1.1 million residents, but it has a great selection of colleges and universities to attend throughout the state. Some of these schools include:

  • Carroll College in Helena (private)
  • Montana State University – Billings in Billings (public)
  • Montana State University in Bozeman (main campus) (public)
  • Montana Technological University in Butte (public)
  • Rocky Mountain College in Billings (private)
  • University of Montana in Missoula (main campus) (public)
  • University of Montana – Western in Dillon (public)
  • University of Providence in Great Falls (private)

The Treasure State may have once received its nickname from the copious amounts of gold and silver deposits that were found there in the 1800s, but now the real treasure is the access its residents have to financial aid programs to help them afford to attend in-state colleges.