Governor's "Best and Brightest" Scholarship Program

The purpose of the Governor’s "Best and Brightest" Scholarship Program is to provide Montana residents with greater access to Montana’s postsecondary institutions and Montana’s tribal colleges, through scholarship grants based on academic achievement and financial need. The goal of these scholarships is to relieve student debt burdens, allowing more Montanans to stay in the state upon graduation. View the Governor's Scholarship Fact Sheet.

The Governor’s Best and Brightest Scholarship Program is divided into 3 scholarships: High School MERIT scholarships, MERIT-AT-LARGE scholarships and NEED-BASED scholarships. Each scholarship is administered in a different way.

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For more information regarding these scholarships, please contact the Scholarship Department at 1-800-537-7508 or mtscholarships@montana.edu

Eligibility Requirements

A student is eligible to receive a scholarship providing the student:

  • Is a resident of the State of Montana;
  • Has been accepted by or is enrolled at an eligible Montana postsecondary institution;
  • For scholarships based upon merit, has obtained a high school GPA of at least 3.0 or a score of at least 20 on the ACT or 1440 on the SAT college admission test; and be enrolled full-time at an eligible postsecondary institution;
  • For scholarships based on financial need, has completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and does not have an expected family contribution (EFC) exceeding the cost of attendance at the postsecondary institution the student will attend;
  • Has not been awarded a Montana University System Honor Scholarship;
  • If a male, has met the Title IV selective service requirements;
  • Is not in default on a Title IV or state of Montana education loan;
  • Does not owe a refund to a federal Title IV or state of Montana student financial aid program;
  • Is not incarcerated;
  • Seeking a first certificate, associate, or baccalaureate degree;
  • Enrolled for the next chronological semester or term;

Governor's Scholarships may be used at the following campuses

U of M - Missoula MSU - Billings Blackfeet CC
Missoula College UM City College MSU Chief Dull Knife
U of M - Western MSU - Northern Aaniiih Nakoda
Helena College UM Great Falls College MSU Fort Peck CC
Montana Tech Dawson CC Little Big Horn
Highlands College of MT Tech Flathead CC Salish-Kootenai
MSU - Bozeman Miles CC Stone Child

Renewing the Governor's Scholarships (contingent upon continued funding of this program)
Students must:

  • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress
  • Continue Full Time Enrollment (Merit, Merit-at-Large)
  • Continue to have Financial Need (Need Based)
  • Notify SFS if they transfer to another eligible institution

High School MERIT Scholarships

Each accredited Montana high school with a qualified applicant will be awarded one Merit Scholarship. To be eligible to apply, a student must demonstrate academic excellence, by having either a 3.0 GPA, or scoring at least 20 on the ACT or 1440 on the SAT (these tests must be taken by December 31 of their senior year). Merit scholarships are awarded to graduating Montana high school seniors who plan to attend either a 2- or 4-year institution. A student attending a 4-year campus will receive $1,000/semester ($2,000/year) for 8 semesters. Students who attend a 2-year campus will receive $1,000/semester ($2,000/year) for 4 semesters*. Applications are scored using the same methodology as the MUS Honor Scholarship (http://www.mus.edu/Prepare/Pay/Scholarships/MUS_Honor_Scholarship.asp).

*If a student receives a Merit Scholarship for a 2-year campus then transfers to a 4-year school, they may petition SFS to extend their scholarship to the full 8 semesters.

Applying for the High School MERIT Scholarship
Applying for this scholarship is a multi-step process. You must complete each of the following steps and submit the required paperwork by the deadline in order for your application to be considered (late or incomplete applications will not be accepted);

  1. Take the ACT/SAT test(s) by December 31 of your senior year in high school;
  2. Maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA or receive a 20 on your ACT or 1440 on the SAT;
  3. Apply to and be accepted by one of the eligible campuses as early as possible;
  4. Register and complete the online application at www.scholarship.mt.gov;
  5. Mail your application packet to SFS, this packet must include these materials:
    a. Signed application;
    b. 7th semester High School transcript (reflecting your cumulative GPA);
    c. Proof/certification of your ACT or SAT score; and
    d. College acceptance letter

Merit AT-LARGE Scholarships

Graduating high school students and students already attending college may apply, non-traditional and home schooled students are also encouraged to apply.

The Merit-AT-LARGE scholarship is awarded to students who plan to attend either a 2 or 4 year institution. A student attending a 4 year campus will receive $1,000/semester ($2,000/year) for 8 semesters. Students who attend a 2 year campus will receive $1,000/semester ($2,000/year) for 4 semesters*.
*If a student receiving a merit-at-large scholarship for a 2-year campus transfers to a 4-year school before completing their first certificate or associate degree, they may petition SFS to extend their scholarship to the full 8 semesters.

Applying for the Merit-AT-LARGE Scholarship

Applying for this scholarship is a multi-step process. You must complete each of the following steps and submit the required paperwork by the deadline in order for your application to be considered (late or incomplete applications will not be accepted);

  1. Maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA or receive a 20 on your ACT or 1440 on the SAT;
  2. Apply to and be accepted by one of the eligible campuses as early as possible;
  3. Register and complete the online application at www.scholarship.mt.gov;
  4. Mail your application packet to SFS, this packet must include these materials:
    a. Signed application, including the Essay and Activities section on Page 3 of the application;
    b. Most recent School transcript (reflecting your cumulative GPA);
    c. Proof/certification of your ACT or SAT score; and
    d. College acceptance letter

NEED-BASED Scholarships

Colleges will be allocated need-based awards each year by SFS based upon the most recent full time equivalent enrollment (FTE) information provided by financial aid offices to SFS for students enrolled in a 2-yr certificate or associate programs. SFS will then advise each college of the specific number of general, health science, technology, and trade/green scholarships it must award. Each institution will receive a minimum of 5 need-based scholarships, regardless of the actual FTE calculation and the financial aid office will be responsible for identifying and awarding scholarships to need-based recipients. Need-based scholarships in the amount of $1,000 will be awarded annually for a maximum of 2 consecutive years. Financial need is the only criteria the scholarship will be based on.

Students should visit the Financial Aid Office of the campus they plan to attend to request a Need-Based scholarship.

Annual Reports
The Montana Board of Regents, through recommendations from the Governor’s Scholarship Advisory Council, sets policies for the administration of the program in accordance with State of Montana statute. These annual reports provide a statistical summary of scholarships awarded. Download the annual reports here.

Scholarship Award Process

  • Once awards are announced High School Counselors/Designees will be notified, in addition, ALL recipients of these scholarships will be notified by mail.
  • If awarded, each recipient must accept or decline the offered scholarship, please be sure to return the information promptly.
  • SFS will award the MUS Honor Scholarships first in the process (mid-April), once those are all accepted or declined, the Governor’s Merit Scholarship will be awarded (early May), Awards for the Governor’s Merit-at-Large should be announced late May. These dates are subject to change without notice.


For more information regarding these scholarships, please contact the Scholarship Department at 1-800-537-7508 or mtscholarships@montana.edu

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