Parents and Families

Please reach out to the GEAR UP Liaison at your child's school to learn more or if you have additional questions.

Explore the Benefits & Cost of College:

A college education can be an investment in personal growth, critical thinking, and future income. Proactive moves such as taking dual enrollment classes while in high school, applying for scholarships, and working while in college can lower the overall cost of college. By taking steps to reduce expenses and choosing a program that is a good fit, one can increase their earning potential over their lifetime. A little research can help your student understand how more education can have a big impact on future income and job satisfaction.

College costs include things like housing, transportation, books, insurance, and food. Some families cut costs by having their students start at a two-year college to take their general classes at a cheaper rate and transfer to a four-year program to take their degree-specific classes. Additionally, living at home can cut college expenses.

Some universities in the western region of the United States will offer in-state tuition for students from Montana: this program is called the Western Undergraduate Exchange. There are online tools, such as College Tuition Compare, allow you to compare rates from universities outside of Montana.


Explore types of education after high school

The Montana Career Information System is a web-based portal provided by the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. Any Montanan can access the portal by providing their city/town and zip code. Students can take career assessments based on their interests and receive recommendations. The site allows you to do side by side comparisons of up to three post-secondary schools at one time. The career pathways part of the website allows students and parent/guardians to compare salaries based on level of education. Topics include occupations, apprenticeships, and paying for education. 

How to pay for college

Award Montana is a great resource for finding scholarships, waivers, and opportunities within the Montana University System. Apply Montana is a convenient, online application for undergraduate students seeking to enroll at any campus in the Montana University System. Application is free for Montana residents. Reach Higher Montana provides scholarship information to families and students and provides guidance on how topay for college. With this information, families can encourage their children to take steps to reduce the need to borrow money by getting good grades, taking dual enrollment classes, and applying for scholarships.

Preparing to enter Montana's schools

The Montana University System (MUS) helps parent/guardians understand what steps their student can take in high school to become college ready. MUS provides information onschools within the MUS system, helps you understandtuition costs, and provides information onscholarships and fee waivers.

Applying for financial aid

Once your child has applied to their school(s) of interest, the next step is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA portal opens on October 1st and to get priority funding, it is best to apply soon after it opens. TheFederal Student Aid Glossary will help you to understand the language around financial aid. Within a short time of completing the FAFSA you will receive aStudent Aid Report (SAR) to review for correctness. It will tell you what is available based on your financial circumstances and what is expected for the family’s contribution. The school(s) your child applied to will use information from the SAR to calculate a financial aid offer, which may include funding other than loans.

Check out the following resources from Federal Student Aid and BigFuture depending on your child's grade:


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Apply to 16 colleges across Montana for FREE using this ONE application.

Whether you have already applied for college, are weighing the costs, or wondering whether college is the right path for you, the Montana University System wants to ensure you have the information you need to make the right decision for you.