MSU Billings Catalog

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships

McMullen Hall First Floor East
(406) 657-2188

Graduate students who wish to apply for financial assistance at Montana State University Billings must be enrolled for at least six credits in a graduate degree, licensure (re-licensure), teacher licensure or endorsement program. Some aid is available for summer term, but most aid is allocated for the regular academic year. A non-degree graduate student is not eligible to receive financial aid.

Students applying for financial assistance are considered for all aid options for which they request and are eligible.  The amount of financial aid awarded is generally a combination of loans and employment.  The award is based on the evaluated financial need of the student.  The estimated financial need is the difference between the cost of attending Montana State University Billings and the ability of the student to contribute to those education costs as determined by federal methodology.

To apply for financial aid, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) financial aid application.  Students can apply through FAFSA on the web at

Priority awarding will be given to those students who have a complete FAFSA and have submitted the required documentation to the Financial Aid office by December 1st.  Students should allow up to two weeks for the office to receive the FAFSA.  We will then begin communications with the student regarding any additional information that needs to be submitted before we can evaluate aid eligibility.  After all requested documentation has been submitted, it can take four to six weeks before an award offer is generated.  The FAFSA must be filed annually, and becomes available for the upcoming academic year (Fall/Spring) on October 1st of every year.

What Does College Cost?

To help students make an evaluation of their financial needs, each year the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships develops a financial aid budget, called the Cost of Attendance (COA).  The COA is the estimated cost of completing a full year at MSU Billings.  It is important to note that the COA is a tool used by the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships to determine student eligibility for financial aid and does not reflect the actual bill that will be paid to MSU Billings.  To review the COA, visit:

General Eligibility Requirements

All financial aid recipients must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be enrolled/accepted for enrollment in a degree or certificate program.
  • Be a citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress (see section below).
  • Cannot be in default on Perkins Loans, Stafford Loans, or PLUS Loans at any institution.
  • Cannot owe an overpayment of Pell or SEOG.
  • If required, must register with the Selective Service.
  • Cannot have borrowed in excess of loan limits.
  • Have need, as defined by individual program requirements (except for unsubsidized Stafford Loans and PLUS Loans).
  • Meet any other program-specific criteria.

Aid Types

Students who apply for financial aid are considered for all aid programs for which they are eligible.  Loans and work study must be applied for through the Financial Aid Office.  Graduate scholarships, assistantships and waivers are administered by the Office of Graduate Studies working in concert with the Financial Aid Office.  The most common types of financial aid received by graduate level students are listed below.


Student loans, which have a lower interest rate than commercial loans, must be repaid after a student has graduated, ceased taking classes, or dropped below six-credit enrollment.  Interest rates and repayment requirements vary according to the type of loan.  For more information visit:

Students who wish to be considered for a loan and/or work study must complete the FAFSA.  Other forms of documentation (tax returns, verification form, etc.) may also be required.

The Financial Aid Office will offer an award package of aid which is consistent with eligibility requirements and legal limits.  The degree or certificate program in which the student is enrolled determines the types of aid and limits of aid available.

  1. Graduate students can borrow up to $20,500 a year in Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans.  In addition, students cannot borrow more than the cost of attendance minus any other financial aid.  Federal Graduate PLUS Loans are awarded to students whose other aid does not cover the full cost of attendance; however this loan requires a credit check be conducted.  A student who is enrolled for less than six credits is not eligible for any aid.
  2. Students working toward licensure alone (and not simultaneously on a degree) or in a Fifth-Year Program, are limited to subsidized loans of $5,500 per year and unsubsidized loans of $7,000.
  3. There are aggregate loan limits that apply and can effect eligibility.

Eligibility for financial assistance ceases if a student’s program plan is not approved within one calendar year of when the student takes the first post-baccalaureate class.

Work Study Employment

Work study positions and part-time campus employment are available.  To be eligible for work study, a student must show demonstrated need, be accepted for enrollment, and maintain satisfactory academic progress toward a degree while employed.  Work study hourly pay varies with the type of work and student’s experience.  Work study students are paid every other week.  Since work study is tied to demonstrated financial need, the amount a student earns can impact loan limits and other types of financial assistance.

A Job Locator service is located in the Advising & Career Services Center.  The Job Locator assists any enrolled Montana State University Billings student to find part-time work with area businesses.  This service is free to all Montana State University Billings students.

Applying for Tuition Waivers and Assistantships

A unified application form for tuition waivers, graduate assistantships and teaching assistantships is available from the Office of Graduate Studies.  Typically tuition waivers and assistantships are allocated on an academic year basis (for fall and spring semesters).  Only students accepted into a Graduate Degree program are eligible for Assistantships.

In order to receive a tuition waiver or an assistantship with tuition waiver for a second semester, students must maintain a 3.00 cumulative grade point average and continue to be enrolled for at least the minimum nine credits.  Moreover, the supervisor, unit chair and/or dean must be satisfied with the recipient’s performance.

Partial Tuition Waivers

The purpose of tuition waivers is to recruit and retain good graduate degree students, reward academic achievement, and recognize service and benefit to the campus community.  Students must be enrolled for at least nine credits in a degree program to be considered for a tuition waiver.  Tuition waivers are considered to be part of a student’s financial aid package and, therefore, may reduce loan eligibility.  Tuition waivers apply to the tuition and registration fee only and do not reduce other mandatory fees.

Teaching/Graduate Assistantships

A limited number of Teaching/Graduate assistantships are available.  Graduate assistantship positions are varied and may include research, scholarly activity, professional service, or assistance with some campus program.  The work should enhance the student’s professional development.  The teaching assistant works with faculty in planning, delivering, and evaluating instruction.  The unit faculty have a responsibility to provide the teaching assistant with training and support to enable the student to learn advanced skills.  Please visit our website for a complete listing of job descriptions (  Every attempt is made to award assistantships on the basis of alignment of the student’s abilities and job description attributes; financial need is not of primary importance.  The workload may not exceed 19 hours per week.  A student must take at least nine (9) credits to be eligible for an assistantship and must be accepted into a graduate degree program.  A student may hold only one campus employment position per semester.  The assistantship dollars are considered to be part of the student’s financial aid package and, therefore, may reduce loan eligibility.

Veterans’ Benefits

Information concerning veterans’ educational benefits may be obtained from Montana State University Billings’ Office of Admissions and Records or the local office of the Veterans Administration.

Montana State University Billings Scholarships

Several scholarships at Montana State University Billings are awarded exclusively to graduate students.  Application forms are available from the Financial Aid Office, the Graduate Studies office or online at  The deadline for submitting scholarship applications to the Graduate Studies Office is February 1.

Dr. Robert McRae Graduate Fellowship

In recognition of Dr. McRae’s outstanding personal qualities and his contribution as Director of Graduate Studies, 1984-1991, an annual scholarship of $1000 is awarded to a superior graduate degree student who has demonstrated the capacity to provide excellent professional leadership and community service.

Dr. Robert Waterman Graduate Fellowship

In recognition of Dr. Waterman’s caring leadership as Director of Graduate Studies, 1962-1968 and 1979-1982, an annual scholarship of $1000 is awarded to a graduate degree student who by reason of exceptional scholarship and professional contributions promises to be a leader in the profession.

Dr. Helen Wilson Graduate Fellowship

In recognition of Dr. Wilson’s contributions as Director of Graduate Studies from 1975-1979, an annual scholarship of $1000 is awarded to a full-time graduate student who shows outstanding scholarship, research and creativity.

Other Scholarships Offered

The Montana State University Billings Foundation also offers scholarships that can be awarded to graduate students.  Students interested in applying for these scholarships must submit a completed MSU Billings General Scholarship Application to the Financial Aid Office, McMullen Hall first floor east, by February 1.  All applicants must also have applied for admission at MSU Billings. Scholarship applications are available in the Financial Aid Office or online at

College of Education Graduate Alumni Excellence Award

Award:   $2,000.  Graduate student, 3.75 GPA or above, program plan accepted, must have demonstrated ability to provide leadership in Montana schools or human services, letter of support from the faculty advisor.

Dr. Rockne Copple Fellowship

Award:  $1,000.  Graduate student; must have Degree Candidacy status; must have a minimum cumulative graduate GPA of 3.25 and a desirable undergraduate record; enrolled for a minimum of 9 credits fall and spring semester; three letters of reference with application; available to students working towards a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling or School Counseling.

Grace K. Harkins Scholarship

Award:  $125.  Female student; single parent; Elementary Education major; junior or senior in college; full time enrolled student; 3.0 cumulative GPA or above; must have financial need.

Kenneth W. Heikes Family Endowed

Award:  $1500.  Full time upper division undergraduate or graduate student, enrolled in the discipline of Accounting and Information Systems of the College of Business or the teacher education program of the College of Education, demonstration of academic and leadership potential, recipient must not be on academic or disciplinary probation, financial need (as defined by the selection committee), 3.0 overall GPA with at least a 3.25 GPA in declared major field of study.  Scholarship alternates year to year from COB and COE.

Florence Steele Kem Scholarship Fund

Award:  1 undergraduate at $2500 OR 2 graduate at $1250 each.  Montana resident, Education major, undergraduate or graduate student, 3.25 GPA or above, financial need, undergraduate students preferred to be enrolled full time, graduate students may be part-time enrolled if demonstrating continuous enrollment by registering for a minimum of one course per semester. Preference given to students with an Early Childhood minor and/or students admitted to the teacher education program from a tribal institution.

Morningstar Nontraditional

Award:  5 or more at $500.  Madison and/or Ruby Valley resident given preference, 2.5 GPA or above, financial need, part or full-time student, nontraditional student, student enrolled in undergraduate, graduate or vocational degree program.

The Elaine Marie Smith Scholarship Endowment

Award:  $1,000.  Available to graduate students seeking a master’s degree in Rehabilitation & Mental Health Counseling.  If no Rehabilitation & Mental Health Counseling majors are eligible, a student working towards a M.S. in Special Education will be considered.  U.S. Citizen; graduate student—recipient must have completed one year of study or have candidacy for graduate program approved through an accepted program plan; 3.0 GPA or above; participation in activities pertaining to field of study is a factor; full time student; financial need.  Scholarship will be disbursed fall and spring semester.

Shannon Weatherly Memorial

Award:  $750.  Graduate student working towards a M.S. in Special Education; 3.5 GPA or above; part-time student; female student; must have completed at least 9 graduate credits and have program plan approved by advisor; must be recommended by Faculty Selection Committee.

Montana Teacher of the Year Tuition Waiver Award

The annual winner of the Montana Teacher of the Year Award qualifies for a tuition waiver for graduate study at Montana State University Billings as follows:

  1. The tuition waiver qualifies the recipient for a maximum of 24 credits to be applied toward a graduate degree in education.
  2. The tuition waiver is available to the recipient for a maximum time of three consecutive years, including summer enrollments.
  3. The tuition waiver may be used for non-degree graduate courses, but no more than nine graduate credit hours earned in non-degree status may be applied toward a graduate degree.
  4. Recipients holding a master’s degree may apply the 24 graduate credits toward a second master’s degree or non-degree graduate course.
  5. All requirements for admission to a graduate program must be met by the applicant.

Recipients of the Montana Teacher of the Year Award should contact the Deputy Commissioner for Academic and Student Affairs of the Montana University System for information about the tuition waiver award and processing of the tuition waiver.

All other fees and expenses are the responsibility of the Montana Teacher of the Year Award winner.

It is expected that while in residence, the Montana Teacher of the Year recipient will serve the program in some fashion at the request of the Department (e.g., speak in undergraduate education classes, work with faculty members in course revision or preparation).

More Financial Aid Information

Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards

Students are expected to maintain certain academic standards and make satisfactory progress toward a degree in order to receive federal and state financial aid.  In accordance with Federal and State laws and regulations, MSU Billings has established a policy to define and administer standards of academic progress for all students.  Detailed information explaining the financial aid satisfactory progress standards, including the appeal and reinstatement process, is available on line at

Verification Process

Some students’ FAFSA information will be selected by the Department of Education for verification.  As a result, Financial Aid and Scholarships will request additional documentation to verify the information provided on the FAFSA is accurate and to resolve discrepant information.  By signing the FAFSA, students and parents give the University permission to ask for all verification documentation.  After these documents have been reviewed and the student has been determined to be eligible, a financial aid package will be offered.

Refund Policy

The institution’s refund policy for students who withdraw from college ranges from a 90 percent refund for class days one through five; 75 percent for class days six through 10; 50 percent refund for class days 11 through 15; there are no refunds after the 15th day of classes.  Students with financial aid may have to return some or all of the financial aid they received if they withdraw or if they do not begin attending classes.

Return of Title IV Funds Policy

If a student withdraws from college, officially or unofficially, he or she may be required to repay all or part of the financial aid that was received.  Any refund will be used to repay the financial aid before any refund will be made to the student.  (Refer to Refund Policy, above.)  The amount of financial aid that must be returned to the Department of Education is based on a federal formula that takes into consideration the date of the withdrawal; the amount of federal financial aid received for the term; and the amount of institutional charges for the term.  For a complete review of Return of Title IV requirements, visit:

Financial Aid – Summer Session

Summer financial aid is based on the FAFSA information used to determine eligibility for the previous fall and spring semesters.  Those students who are Pell eligible should also complete the upcoming FAFSA to ensure they receive their maximum Pell grant eligibility.  To determine aid eligibility for summer, students must complete and submit the Summer Award Acceptance form to the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.  For specific information please visit:

Financial Aid - Study Abroad

The Financial Aid Director will review requests for funding “Study Abroad” coursework after receiving the following information and documentation:

Document acceptance into the study abroad program.;

  1. A copy of the course approval form;
  2. A list of all necessary direct education expenses such as:  tuition & fees, books, class supplies, room and board
  3. A copy of the airline ticket or a letter from a travel agency listing the cost if the student is to incur airfare or travel expenses

The above information must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office at least six weeks prior to departure.  Any adjustments to a student’s award will be based upon eligibility and available funds.  Most grant and loan programs have yearly limits which cannot be exceeded.  These limits could affect a student’s funding level, even if allowable expenses are documented.

Consumer Information

In accordance with federal regulations set forth by the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, a summary of consumer information must be made available to all current and prospective students of Montana State University Billings.  The information that must be disclosed can be obtained at:

Questions?  Contact Us

Visit the Financial Aid Office on the University Campus (located on the 1st floor of McMullen Hall), or during scheduled hours at City College Jacket Student Central, or by calling (406) 657-2188, sending an email to or visiting