Scholarships and Tuition Waivers

Scholarships and Tuition Waivers

You, yes you! You are scholarship material because you have a story to tell. A story about perseverance, giving back, learning something new - that’s what scholarship essays are made of - stories. Use those stories to earn money to pay for college. Scholarships are money for college that you don’t have to repay. Scholarships can go a long way toward making college more affordable for students who are willing to put in the work to apply.

Montana Scholarships

We've curated a list of state and local scholarships for Montana students. Our experience working with students and scholarships for many years has shown that students are typically more successful earning local scholarships, as there are generally fewer students competing for these awards compared to national scholarships.

Check out our Montana Scholarships.

The Reach Higher Montana Scholarship

Every year, Reach Higher Montana awards at least 75 - $1,000 scholarships to Montana students through the Reach Higher Montana Scholarship program. We encourage students who wish to reach higher in education, career, and life to apply! The RHM Scholarship opens December 1, and is open to Montana high school seniors and current college students. See the full list of qualifications to apply.

Current Applicants: Log in to upload additional documentation.

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To qualify, applicants must be:

  • Montana high school seniors, or
  • Montana residents who graduated from a Montana high school or approved home school program and are currently attending a Montana college or university, and
  • Attend or will attend at least half time, and
  • Have at least a 2.5 grade point average (GPA), and
  • Submitted the FAFSA for the 2020-21 academic year.

Meet our past scholarship recipients: Read More

Montana University System Scholarships, Grants, and Tuition Waivers

The Montana University System offers several state-funded scholarships

  • MUS Honor Scholarship: The MUS Honor Scholarship is a four-year renewable scholarship, which waives the recipient’s tuition when used at an eligible campus. Its average value at a 4-year Montana campus is $5,000 a year or $20,000 for four years. The Board of Regents intends to offer up to 200 scholarships (contingent upon continued funding of the program) annually.
  • 2 + 2 Honor Scholarship:  The 2 + 2 Honor Scholarship is awarded annually to students who graduate with an associate degree from a 2-year campus of the Montana University System or a Montana Community College (listed below). The scholarship consists of a waiver of undergraduate tuition at any 4-year unit of the Montana University System and may be received up to a total of four continuous (fall/spring) semesters.
  • Montana’s STEM Scholarship: Montana’s STEM Scholarship Program is designed to provide an incentive for Montana high school students to prepare for, enter into, and complete degrees in postsecondary fields related to science, technology, engineering, mathematics and healthcare.
  • Montana Access Scholarship – contact your financial aid office to learn more. The 66th Montana Legislature approved $2 million in state need-based student aid that, when matched one-to-one by private donations from the campus Foundations, will provide a total of $4 million in financial aid for students across the Montana University System (MUS) over the next two years (FY2020 and FY2021).
  • MUS PASS Grants – contact your financial aid office to learn more. Experiencing unforeseen financial hardship due to illness, accident, or something else? These funds are available to assist students working through unforeseen, one-time occurrences. When appropriate, preference will be given to students who are in jeopardy of not persisting due to their hardship.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) – awarded by financial aid office, based on exceptional financial need. Because funds are limited, students who submit their FAFSA by the priority filing date of December 1st have a greater chance of being considered for a SEOG.
  • Work Study – awarded by financial aid office. Recipients are paid an hourly rate according to the job skills required. All student employees are paid at least minimum wage. You will need to arrange a work schedule with the job supervisor based on your class schedule and assignments. Work is limited to an average of 20 hours per week while class is in session and 40 hours per week when classes are not in session.
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Pro Tip

All students should complete the FAFSA annually, ideally by the December 1 priority deadline. Many sources of scholarship aided awarded by the college will only consider students who have completed the FAFSA.

Montana University System Tuition Waivers

Tuition waivers are non-cash scholarships that cover the cost of tuition, but do not cover fees, books, or other expenses. Rules and restrictions apply, and vary by category. The Montana University System offers waivers to students who meet specific criteria

  • Montana National Guard Tuition Waiver Beginning in the fall semester of 2020, a student who is a member of the Montana National Guard is eligible for a tuition waiver.
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To be eligible, the student:

  1. Is a bona fide member of the Montana National Guard at the start of the semester for which the student is enrolling;
  2. Has been certified as a Montana National Guard member in good standing by the Adjunct General;
  3. Does not hold a baccalaureate degree or higher; and
  4. Meets all admission requirements of the institution.

Waivers for students who meet the criteria above will be applied as last dollar awards, up to the total annual cost of in-state tuition only.  Thus, individual tuition waiver amounts will vary, depending on the amount of federal grants and scholarships received by the student.  Montana National Guard members who do not meet the residency requirements provided in BOR Policy 940.1 but meet the criteria above, are eligible for in-state tuition status for purposes of applying the tuition waiver under this policy.

  • Honorably Discharged Veteran Waiver To be eligible, the student must have been honorably discharged from the service and have served with the United State Armed forces in any of its wars. The person must also be a resident of the state of Montana.
  • War Orphans Waiver For children aged 25 or less, whose parent(s) served on active duty during World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Iraq or Afghanistan conflicts.
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Such members of the armed forces must have been Montana residents at the time of entry into service, and must have been killed in action or died as a result of combat related injury, disease, or other disability.

  • Surviving Dependents of Montana Firefighters/Peace Officers Waiver The surviving spouse or child of any Montana firefighter or peace officer killed in the course and scope of employment is eligible for a tuition waiver.
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This waiver shall not apply to the extent that any such person is eligible for educational benefits from any governmental or private benefit program that provides comparable benefits.

  • American Indian Waiver Persons of one-fourth (1/4) American Indian blood or more, or are enrolled members of a state-recognized or federally-recognized Indian tribe which is located within the boundaries of the State of Montana, are eligible for a waiver upon demonstration of financial need.
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"Financial need" is defined as having at least one dollar of remaining need after subtracting Expected Family Contribution, all Title IV grant aid and institutional aid from the cost of attendance. Duplication of tuition designated awards is not allowed. A brochure and application are available.

  • National Merit Semi-Finalist Scholarship Tuition shall be waived for Montana students receiving a National Merit Semi-Finalist Scholarship.
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Students who have been selected as National Merit Semi-finalists, will automatically be sent information regarding this waiver in the spring of their senior year.

This tuition waiver will be valid through the first 2 consecutive semesters of enrollment, excluding credits earned prior to high school graduation. The holder of this scholarship must enter one of the Montana University System campuses within nine months after high school graduation. A satisfactory standard must be maintained to be eligible to use the scholarship for both semesters. The scholarship is not transferable.

Strategies for Scholarship Success

Scholarships are available for all kinds of students. It’s a myth that scholarships are only awarded to valedictorians and athletes. There are so many people who believe in education and support students through scholarships. We suggest the following strategies to maximize your scholarship success:

  • Start close to home. Most likely, there will be fewer applicants for local scholarships than national scholarships, which increases your odds of winning.
  • Apply early for scholarships offered by the campus you plan to attend. Campuses offer many scholarships to incoming freshmen, transfer students, and students in specific programs of study.
  • Do your homework. Research scholarships for which you’re eligible to apply, and keep a folder with the scholarship information, sorted by due date. Keep the file up to date as new information becomes available. Check to see if the scholarships are renewable.
  • Help others help you. If you are asking someone to write a letter of reference for you, make it easy for them. Provide them with some background on the scholarship for which you are applying, outline your accomplishments and skills that demonstrate your eligibility, and give your references plenty of time to write you a letter of recommendation. You can use this form to organize your request.  Asking for a letter the day before the scholarship is due isn’t a great idea, as your reference may not have time to write you a letter. When you are selected to receive a scholarship, be sure to thank your references for helping you out.
  • Say “Thanks”. Send a written thank you note to anyone who awards you a scholarship.
  • Be careful. Unfortunately, you have to be aware that there are people who try to take advantage of scholarship applicants. Be wary if you are asked to pay a fee to apply for a scholarship, or if an application asks for personal information that isn’t relevant to the scholarship.
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Pro Tip

Treat searching and applying for scholarships like a job and it will pay like one! Set aside some time every week to search for scholarships and to work on your applications. Keep track of deadlines using our handy tracking sheet so you don’t miss out on winning money for school!

Scholarship Search Tools

When it comes to searching for scholarships, our website is a great place to start. There are lots of scholarship tools on the Internet. Be careful - you should never pay money to apply for a scholarship, and you'll want to make sure you understand how your personal information is collected and used by scholarship sites.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram

Every Thursday we post available scholarships and scholarship tips to our Reach Higher Montana Facebook and Instagram pages. That’s right! Every Thursday we pack our Facebook and Instagram pages full of helpful information so you can maintain your scholarship hustle!

Scholarship Search Tools

Take advantage of the scholarship search tool on the Montana Career Information System (MCIS). The Montana Department of Labor and Industry provides a great way to search and apply for scholarships specific to your characteristics, interests, program of study, and more. Check out the video on our website to learn how to search for scholarships on MCIS.

In addition to MCIS, we recommend mycollegeoptions.org. This search tool works similarly to MCIS and includes both state and national scholarships.

Searching for Scholarships in MCIS
Searching for Scholarships in MCIS

MCIS has a lot of scholarships for Montana students, watch this quick video to help you find them.

Scholarship Resources

What makes an essay stand out? What do scholarships require? What does it take to earn scholarship money? We have the resources for you!

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