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Scholarship Research Guide

Scholarship Research Guide

Scholar Resources > High School Scholars > Planning > Scholarship Research Guide


For Montana Students

There are many undergraduate and graduate scholarships available to Native students. Some scholarships sponsor students in particular academic fields or on the basis of their tribal affiliation. The amount of funds available differs from scholarship to scholarship. Some are mutually exclusive, while others allow a student to acquire numerous scholarships at once. It is beneficial for the applicant to assess the full potential of financial aid available to him/her and assume that submitting numerous applications assures better chances of success than submitting only one application.

The following information provides future college students with useful information about the types of scholarships available, the tricks to applying for scholarships, and links to numerous online resources available to potential Native scholarship recipients in Montana. 

The Basics      |      Scholarship Search Tips      |      Federal Financial Aid for Montana Students      |    
 Federal Scholarships and Grants      |      Native American Specific Scholarships      |      Useful Online Resources      |      List of Other Scholarships


The Basics

What are Scholarships?

  • Merit-Based Aid is given to students who have a special characteristic, skill, talent, or ability (ACT score, athletic ability…).

  • Need-Based Aid is given to students who can show they have a financial need. There are three types of need-based aid: grants, loans, and work-study. If you think your educational expenses are more than you or your family can afford, you should always apply for need-based financial aid.

Types of Scholarships

  • Federal Aid Programs – Check with your school counselor

  • Campus Based Scholarships – Check with your prospective schools if they have any school-specific scholarships you could be eligible to apply for.

  • Departmental Scholarships – Check with the departments you may study with at your prospective schools if they have any scholarships you could be eligible to apply for.

  • ROTC Scholarships -

  • NCAA Scholarships – Check with your high school or athletic team coach and visit

  • Private Loans – Contact your bank or shop for loans with other regional financial institutions

Scholarship Search Tips

These 11 Tips will help you get scholarships to pay for college:

  1. Start ASAP and apply early—There are many scholarships that have early application deadlines, so don't miss out on these opportunities.

  2. Search locally—A local scholarship is probably your best chance for getting a scholarship. There are many special scholarships just for locals. This means it will be less competitive as there are less applicants. Local banks, clubs, grocery stores, businesses, organizations, and churches are all potential sources for local community scholarships. You should also check state-funded scholarships. States have a lot of money to disperse when it comes to providing education.

  3. Read the requirements carefully— Make sure you are eligible right from the start, so you are not wasting your time. Also, never pay to apply for a scholarship; these are usually scams

  4. Follow instructions carefully—Any initial errors can get your scholarship application easily denied. Proofread it. Have someone else proofread it!

  5. Ask questions—Make sure the application is completed right. If you are not sure about something in the scholarship application, do not hesitate to ask.

  6. Neatly presentable, neatly packaged—Send the scholarship application via certified mail or, better yet, FedEx, which will make your application look professional and stand out from others.

  7. Visit the college/financial counselor at your School—The counselor may be able to lead you to scholarships you don't know about or are not listed on the web. You want to find scholarships that are less competitive. These are typically scholarships not heavily advertised.

  8. Check School Specific Scholarships—Check with the college/university you would like to attend. Usually there are many school-specific scholarships available. This may also help you in deciding what school/college to attend.

  9. Be Active, Stay Active—Being in a sports team, club, or some type of community service will always better your chances at receiving a college scholarship.

  10. Maintain your GPA—Keep your grades up. A higher GPA will make you eligible for more scholarships, thus increasing your chances of receiving additional funds.

  11. Apply for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) ASAP!


Tips To Protect Yourself From Scholarship Scams

  1. If you must pay money to get money, it is probably a scam.

  2. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

  3. Spend the time, not money, looking for scholarships.

  4. Never invest more than a postage stamp to get information about scholarships.


Federal Financial Aid for Montana Students: A Quick Guide

The U.S. Government assists students with financial need by providing grants and low-interest loans. If you think you may qualify, file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA opens on October 1 the year before the year you are planning to use the aid. Your individual university or college may also have its own FAFSA deadline. Check with your financial aid/scholarship office to make sure you don’t miss it.

Federal financial aid programs are offered through your school’s financial aid/scholarship office. Financial aid officers decide how much money you need depending on the information you report in your FAFSA. You can choose to accept as much as you want or need.

Montana State University and University of Montana offer tuition waivers and financial aid for Native students. Here are their websites:

Montana State University – Office of Admissions

University of Montana – Division of Student Affairs; American Indian Student Services 

Montana State Financial Aid

Montana provides state-supported programs to assist their students. Only institutions in the Montana University System, public community colleges, and tribal colleges are eligible for Montana state grants.

Here is a list of available Montana scholarship and grant programs:

Montana University System Honor Scholarship

This 4-year program waives tuition for students at one of the Montana University System institutions or at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Miles Community College in Miles City, or Dawson Community College in Glendive. To be eligible, students must have a 3.4 GPA by the fall term of their senior year and must have an ACT or SAT score on file by February 15. Applications are available at your high school.

The Community College Honor Scholarship

Students from numerous Montana 2-year institutions are eligible to apply for this scholarship to help finance their continued education at a Montana University System campus. The president and faculty of each community college will nominate recipients. More information can be found on the Montana University System’s website.

Montana Higher Education Grant

Montana students with financial need are eligible for this grant. File a FAFSA to qualify.

Montana Tuition Assistance Program

The MTAP program matches the Federal Special Leveraging Educational Assistance Program (SLEAP) for students who have financial need. Qualified students can have a maximum Expected Family Contribution (EFC) under the maximum Federal Pell Grant Payment plus $2,500. As of 2014, that amount is $8,230.

Baker Grant (MTAP)

The Baker Grant (MTAP) is available to Montana residents. The award is based on the EFC and the student's earnings as reported on the FAFSA. Funds are limited, so early FAFSA filing is encouraged.


Federal Scholarships and Grants: A Quick Guide

Federal Pell Grant

A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. Pell Grants are awarded usually only to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's or a professional degree. (In some cases, however, a student enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teacher certification program might receive a Pell Grant.) Pell Grants are considered a foundation of federal financial aid; aid from other federal and nonfederal sources may be added.


William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program

Direct Loans are low-interest loans for students and parents to help pay for the cost of a student's education after high school. The lender is the U.S. Department of Education, though the entity you deal with, your loan servicer, can be a private business.


Plus Loans

Parents of dependent students may apply for a Direct PLUS Loan to help pay their child's education expenses as long as certain eligibility requirements are met. Graduate and professional students may apply for PLUS Loans for their own expenses.


Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program is for undergraduates with exceptional financial need. Pell Grant recipients with the lowest expected family contributions (EFCs) will be considered first for a FSEOG. Just like Pell Grants, the FSEOG does not have to be repaid. You can receive between $100 and $4,000 a year depending on when you apply, your financial need, the funding at the school you are attending, and the policies of the financial aid office at your school.


(Sources: Montana University System (, US Department of Education (


Native American Specific Scholarships

Montana State University and University of Montana offer tuition waivers and financial aid for Native students.

Montana State University – Office of Admissions

University of Montana – Division of Student Affairs; American Indian Student Services

Native American Financial Aid

The most common financial aid offered to Native American students comes from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Tribal Education Departments, and Local Area Offices. You should also contact your Tribe for more information on specific grants and scholarships available to you.

Montana Indian Student Tuition Waiver

The Montana Tuition waiver is open to eligible Montana resident freshman and transfer students. You must demonstrate financial need and be at least ¼ or more Indian blood. To apply for the Indian Fee Waiver students will need to contact the Financial Aid Office at the school they are attending.

Montana State University – Office of Admissions

University of Montana – Division of Student Affairs; American Indian Student Services

Bureau of Indian Affairs Higher Education Grant Program

Become familiar with the requirements of BIA’s Grant Program. The purpose of the Higher Education grant is to provide supplemental financial assistance to eligible Native Scholars entering college and seeking a baccalaureate degree. The application is available from the education officer of the Tribe in which you are affiliated or claim membership. For all other information, contact your nearest BIA Education Line Officer.



Useful Online Resources

List of Other Scholarships

Here is a list of potential scholarships for Montana’s Native Students organized by region and the organization offering the scholarship. The list is in no way complete, as there are many local scholarships available throughout the U.S. which are not included in this document.

Local and Regional Scholarships:

  • University of Montana offers a tuition waiver for students enrolled in federally recognized tribes. Eligible students must be Montana residents and demonstrate financial need each year of enrollment as determined from FAFSA.

  • Montana State University offers various programs and scholarships for Native students.

  • Montana State University also provides students with a scholarship guide with over 100 scholarships listings for Native Students.

Blackfeet Tribal Education Grant

Blackfeet Higher Education Program
P.O. Box 850
Browning, MT 59417

(406) 338-7521 

  • 01-Mar

  • Member of Blackfeet Tribe; actively pursuing an undergraduate degree; need-based.

Northern Cheyenne Higher Education Scholarship Program

Northern Cheyenne

ATTN: Tribal Education Department
P.O. Box 307
Lame Deer, MT 59043

(406) 477-6567

  • Maximum amount $6,000.

  • Criteria: Must be enrolled with the Northern Cheyenne Tribe pursuing any undergraduate study at any post-secondary accredited institution. Must have a financial need based on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Must meet the eligibility criteria listed in the tribal Higher Education Guidelines.

Shoshone Tribal Scholarship

Shoshone Education Program
P.O. Box 538
Fort Washakie, WY 82514

(307) 335-8000

  • Up to $5,000.

  • Write for more information.

Tribal Homelands Scholarship

Meg Somers, Minority Admissions Representative

Montana State University, Office of Admissions
P.O. Box 172190
Bozeman, MT 59717

(406) 994-1983

  • The Tribal Homelands Scholarship is available to non-resident Native American students whose tribal ancestors called the area that is now Montana their “home” and are entering the university as new freshmen, transfer, or graduate students.

All Nations Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation

All Nations LSAMP-Indigenous Math & Science Institute

Salish Kootenai College

P.O. Box 70 or 58138 US Hwy. 93
Pablo, MT 59855

(406) 275-4998

  • Quarterly

  • Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics degree programs

American Indian College Fund

Anthony A. Welmas Scholarship Fund

8333 Greenwood Blvd.
Denver, CO 80221

(800) 776-3863; (303) 426-8900

  • Amount varies call, e-mail or visit Web site for details.

American Indian Education Foundation

AIEF Scholarships
2401 Eglin St.
Rapid City, SD 57703

(866) 866-8642

  • $1,000 – $2,000

  • American Indian or Alaska Native descent and enrolled full-time in an accredited two or four-year college/university/technical school. Other criterion depends on the scholarship.

Washington DC Scholarships:

Academic Scholarships & Don Leonard Memorial Scholarship

National Native American Law Enforcement Association Academic
Scholarship Program
P.O. Box 171
Washington, DC 20044

Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network Tribal College Science Education-focused Summer Internship Program

1818 N Street, NW Suite 350
Washington, DC 20036

(202) 659-1818

  • Benefits: Stipends are available for full-time participation in the ten-week program. Students also are provided with one round-trip airfare between home or school and Washington, DC; housing; and a local transportation allowance. Housing and stipends are taxable.

  • Criteria: Application Process: A downloadable Tribal Colleges Internship Program Application Packet for Summer 2015 that includes eligibility requirements will be available in November 2010 at the QEM website. Students must submit the completed application and recommendation forms, as well as the required transcript(s), essay, and resume


Other National Organizations:

American Indian Science and Engineering Society

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Foundation Scholarship

Tina Pino, AISES program officer
P.O. Box 9828
Albuquerque, NM 87119

(505) 765-1052, ext. 10

  • 15-Apr

  • Administered for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Foundation, this scholarship is made available to American Indian high school seniors every year, who reside in states serviced by the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Pacific Corporation and its affiliated companies: Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington. The award is for 4 academic years (8 semesters) or until baccalaureate degree is obtained, whichever occurs first. Applicants who are not selected as recipients will be given consideration in the A.T. Anderson Memorial Scholarship program, if all criteria is met. Eligible majors include business, engineering, math, medicine/health administration, natural/physical sciences, technology and education.

Association of American Indian Affairs Inc.

Adolph Van Pelt Scholarship

Lisa Wyzlic, Director of Scholarship Programs

966 Hungerford Dr. Suite 12-B
Rockville, MD 20850

(240) 314-7155

  • $1,500

  • Scholarships are for Native students from the Continental U.S. or Alaska only. Must be enrolled with your tribe and have one-quarter Indian blood. Visit Web site for full details.Open to undergraduate students in any curriculum.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program

1800 West Loop South
Suite 250
Houston, TX 77027

(713) 621-6300, ext. 25

  • Deadline: March, October

  • Criteria: The Gilman International Scholarship Program offers up to $5,000 in scholarships to U.S. undergraduate students receiving the federal Pell Grant who are interested in studying abroad for a semester or academic year term. Applications are only available online through the Gilman website. There are only two application cycles, with deadlines in March and October. This program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau, and administered by the Institute of International Education. Contact the program for more information.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The Gates Millennium Scholarship

P.O. Box 10500
Fairfax, VA 22031-8044

(877) 690-4677

  • Criteria: Students are eligible to be considered if they are African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander or Hispanic American; are a citizen, national or legal permanent resident of the United States; have a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or have earned a GED; will be entering a U.S. accredited college or university as a full-time, degree-seeking freshman; have demonstrated leadership abilities; meet the Federal Pell Grant eligibility criteria

Stokes Educational Scholarship Program

9800 Savage Road
Fort Mead, MD 20755-6779

(410) 854-4725


  • Full tuition

  • Nov. 30

  • Stokes provides a tremendous opportunity to gain valuable experience in your field while attending college and getting a degree. Stokes is open to high school seniors planning on majoring in Computer Science or Computer/Electrical Engineering. College sophomores majoring in Mathematics are also invited to apply. As an NSA employee with the Stokes Program, you will attend college full time, then work during the summer at NSA for 12 weeks in areas that are related to your course of study. You'll acquire real-world experience and receive a salary year round. (Please note: Eligible students must maintain a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale after their freshman year) If selected as a program participant, you are required to work in your area of study for NSA after your college graduation for at least one-and-one-half times the length of study. If you leave NSA employment earlier, you must reimburse the government for your tuition and book costs.