2010-2012 Graduate Studies Catalog

IV. Financial Aid and Scholarships

Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships
Ms. Leslie Weldon, Director
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 www.fafsa.ed.gov.  Early application is essential; March 1 is the priority date for mailing the financial aid application to the processor.  Students should allow up to two months for processing.  The financial aid application must be filed annually.

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.


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 credits.  Interest rates and repayment requirements vary according to the type of loan.  The rules and regulations regarding eligibility for loans are complex.  The Financial Aid Office’s brochure, “Financial Aid Guide,” should be consulted for details concerning eligibility, procedures, and types of aid.  A graduate student may be eligible for a Federal Direct Subsidized Loan, Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, Direct Grad Plus Loan, and/or a Federal Perkins Loan.

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

The Financial Aid Office award letter will offer a 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.  At least $12,000 of this full amount must be in the form of unsubsidized Loan(s).  In addition, students cannot borrow more than the cost of attendance minus any other financial aid.  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 $7,500.

Eligibility for financial assistance ceases if a student’s plan of study is not approved within one calendar year of when the student takes the first post-baccalaureate class.  Graduate students are eligible for financial aid for up to 45-90 credits, depending on the degree.  Federal regulations limit financial aid to 150% of the credits required to obtain a degree.

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 Career Services Office.  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 (www.msubillings.edu/grad).  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.

NEXT: Montana State University Billings Scholarships

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