Jun 25, 2024  
2021-2022 Catalog 
2021-2022 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Financial Aid

James E. Short Center
710 S Atlantic
Dillon, MT 59725-3598
(406) 683-7511
Website: Financial Aid

The Financial Aid Office ensures that Montana Western students have the financial support necessary within the boundaries of state and federal regulations to achieve their academic goals. The UMW Financial Aid Office follows the pre-established federal guidelines that govern all financial aid transactions for institutions of higher education. Students should make sure that they understand all requirements for residency, enrollment, fee payment, and financial aid.

Students at Montana Western enroll on a semester basis and are expected to register (including paying tuition and fees) prior to the start of the semester for all classes they plan to complete during that semester and, once registered, to actively participate in learning activities associated with courses in which they are enrolled.

Students must sign a FERPA Aid Release Form if they wish to give others permission to discuss any information about their financial aid file.

Financial Aid Definitions

Attendance or Attending—Registering for and actively participating in learning/instruction activities associated with a class or classes. Only students who start with and maintain full-time enrollment status through-out the semester are eligible for intercollegiate athletic certification and participation.

Enrollment Status (Student)—A student’s enrollment per semester is determined based on weeks of actual attendance and credit load.   12 semester credits or more is full time; 9-11 credits is 3/4 time; 6-8 credits is 1/2 time; and 1-5 credits is less than half time.

Payment of Federal Aid (Student)—Federal aid is paid based on your attendance. If you fail to begin attendance or stop attending, your aid will be reduced at the end of your semester. On-line students must pay special attention to the Federal Definition below:

In a distance education context (online), documenting that a student has logged into an online class is not sufficient, by itself, to demonstrate academic attendance by the student.

A school must demonstrate that a student participated in class or was otherwise engaged in an academically related activity, such as by contributing to an online discussion or initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a course-related question.

Student Financial Aid Programs


Federal Pell Grant

Federal Pell Grants are awarded to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s or professional degree. Pell eligibility is determined by a formula developed by the U.S. Congress and is applied consistently to all applicants using the information reported in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) which is found at http://fafsa.ed.gov.  Grants are pro-rated based on the student’s enrollment and will be recalculated or reduced if the student fails to begin attendance in a course.


Montana Western determines Pell Grant eligibility on the Census Date which is the 15th Instructional day of each semester. Students must be registered for all courses for all blocks as of this census date. If students fail to register and later add a course, the student’s Pell Grant will not increase.

If a student does not begin attendance in block one, the census date for all other blocks is the add/exchange date of that block.

If a student fails to begin attendance in a course, their Pell Grant will be recalculated which may cause the student to owe due to the reduction. Non-Attendance may also affect other aid like Work Study & Loans if a student’s attendance in courses drop below half-time status (6 hours fall/spring) (3 hours during summer)

Year-Round Pell means that a student can receive 150% of a Pell award per year instead of only 100%. Spring enrollment requires students to be enrolled in at least 6 credit hours to receive a Pell award above 100%. 

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity (FSEOG)

This grant is available to a limited number of undergraduate students with exceptional financial need. Priority is given to students who receive full Pell Grants. The Grant is pro-rated based on student’s enrollment.

Federal Teach Grant (LOAN)

The Federal Teacher Education Assistance for College & Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program is for upper division students accepted into the UMW Teacher Education Program (TEP). Available to full-time Junior/Senior students in the Education major, the program provides grants of up to $4,000 per year to students who intend to teach in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families in a teacher shortage subject. If these terms are not met, the TEACH grant becomes an unsubsidized loan with retroactive interest. Students are required to do an “Intent to Serve” each year with the Department of Education. Guidance will be posted on the student’s DAWGS account.

If you are interested in the TEACH grant, you must contact the Financial Aid Office at 406-683-7511.


Federal Perkins Loan (Program Ending September 30, 2017)

A Federal Perkins Loan was a low-interest (5%) loan for students with financial need. Repayment of the loan is deferred while the borrower is enrolled at least half-time in an approved institution of higher education. Interest begins to accrue and repayment starts nine months after the borrower ceases to be enrolled at least half-time. Repayment may be extended over a maximum of ten years. Under certain circumstances, the Perkins Loan can be canceled. Information regarding loan cancellation and deferment is available in the Financial Aid Office. Previous borrowers should monitor their account at  http://efpls.com. You can also call our loan servicer, ECSI at 1-866-313-3797. If you transfer you must complete a Deferment Request for In-School Form which can be obtained at the link above

Federal Direct Loan

Federal Direct Loans are low-interest loans (variable interest annually for borrowers) offered by the United States Department of Education to students attending school at least half-time. Students must complete the FAFSA form and apply through the Financial Aid Office. Students must sign a Promissory Note and complete an Entrance Counseling electronically to receive these loans. Both forms are available at Student Loans.gov.

Students may choose from eight major repayment plans for federal student loans, including who can participate, how long a student would be paying off debt, and whether a student can qualify for special federal benefits with a certain plan.  Students should access the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to find their Servicer and work with them to choose the repayment plan that is most appropriate.

Direct loans are either subsidized or unsubsidized, and a student may receive both types for the same enrollment period. Unsubsidized Direct Loans are not awarded on the basis of financial need. The student is responsible for the interest from the time the loan is fully disbursed. A student can request that the interest be accrued and capitalized (that is, the interest will be added to the principal of the loan). However, it is recommended that students pay interest quarterly to lower aggregate debt upon repayment. No principal payments are due during school or deferment periods. A Subsidized Direct Loan is awarded on the basis of financial need.  The student will not be charged any interest before beginning repayment. UM-Western uses a company called Inceptia to assist our students with their loans after enrollment of half-time ceases. You may receive a letter, email or phone call from Inceptia to assist you with loan repayment guidance and help you stay out of default on your student loans.

Annual Loan Limits (Subject to Cost of Attendance Limits)

Independent Students
First Year $3500-9500 for independent students
Second Year $4500-10500 for independent students
Third, Fourth, Fifth Year $5500-12500 for independent students
Dependent Students
First Year $5500 for dependent students
Second Year $6500 for dependent students
Third, Fourth, Fifth Year $7500 for dependent students

Aggregate Loan Limits

Undergraduate $23,000 -$57,500 (varies with dependency status and Parent Plus denial status)

Federal Direct Plus Loan

Federal PLUS Loans are unsubsidized loans made to parents of dependent students. Parents may borrow the cost of attendance less other financial aid. Interest is variable. Federal PLUS borrowers generally must begin repaying both principal and interest within 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed. PLUS Loans are credit contingent. Parents may re-apply with an endorser if denied.

Retention Loan Scholarship

A retention scholarship revolving loan fund was created from federal funds allocated by the Governor to the Montana University System and then allocated to UMW. The fund is to be used to provide educational scholarship loans to selected students. A scholarship loan to a recipient may not exceed $1,000 per school year for an undergraduate student and may not be made to a student for more than six years. A scholarship loan may not exceed the cost of attendance as determined by the UMW Financial Aid Office. The scholarship becomes a loan if a student leaves UMW prior to earning a degree.

An applicant for a retention scholarship loan must be a resident of Montana, enrolled or eligible for enrollment as a full-time student in a degree program, have a minimum 2.00 GPA (cumulative and/or prior semester), and have an EFC range from 3,500-7,500.

The recipient must at all times continue to be enrolled in at least 12 semester credits and 15 weeks and be in good academic standing at UMW.

Short-Term Loans and Repayment

Repayment is made within 30 days during enrollment at UMW. The loan is not available until the semester has begun. Current financial aid cannot be used to repay the loan. Students must show another source of funds (ie: work study job or VA benefits) to receive the loan. These funds are for temporary and emergency purposes and repayment is usually made during the semester borrowed. Some of the funds have been established by families and friends as memorials to persons named in the funds. Fund sources include:

  • Frank & Catherine Willis Loan Fund;
  • American Association of University Women, Dillon Branch, Loan Fund;
  • Art Club Loan Fund;
  • Butte Rotary Club Loan Fund;
  • John & Jennie Painter;
  • B.F. White Memorial;
  • Bishop Memorial;
  • Alumni Loan Fund;
  • Frederick Kress Memorial;
  • Class of 1922 Loan Fund;
  • Iva Lee Orr Loan Fund;
  • Dillon Business & Professional;
  • Dillon Rotary Club Loan Fund;
  • Chinook Loan Fund;
  • Robert Clark Memorial;
  • Shakespeare Club Loan Fund;
  • Samuel Wells Loan Fund;
  • Pan-Hellenic Loan Fund;
  • Cap and Gown Loan Fund;
  • Western Women’s Club Loan Fund;
  • Porter-Sneed Athletic Loan Fund;
  • Bernice Gleed Loan Fund;
  • Iva Estella Miller Loan Fund; and
  • Ira Perkins Loan Fund.

Employment Opportunities

The Financial Aid Office and Career Services Office helps regularly enrolled students in obtaining part-time employment during the academic year and employment during the summer and other vacation periods. Earnings from federal and state work study programs will be counted as additional resources in evaluations for financial aid eligibility. Earnings generated after an initial financial aid offer may result in reduction or retraction of other sources of financial aid.

Federal and State Work Study

Work Study is a federal or state program that provides opportunities for employment for undergraduate students in need of such earnings to help meet the cost of their education. To be eligible for State Work Study, a student must demonstrate need, be accepted for enrollment, be enrolled full-time, have a completed financial aid file, and be making satisfactory academic progress while employed. To be eligible for Federal Work Study, a student must demonstrate need, be accepted for enrollment, be enrolled as at least a half-time student, have a completed financial aid file, and be making satisfactory academic progress while employed.

Work ranges from 5 to 19 hours per week while classes are in session. The major portion of the student’s hourly wage under the Work Study program is provided by the federal or state government, with the employer contributing the balance. Hourly pay rates comply with minimum wage laws and vary with the type of work and the student’s experience and capabilities. Employment is generally on campus. Work Study funds are limited and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Summer Work Study is a program designed to provide student employment during the summer months. It is expected that the earnings from this employment be utilized to off-set the next academic year’s educational costs. To be eligible, a student must be accepted for admission, be registered in at least 3 credits or be registered for the next academic year, have a completed financial aid file for the next academic year, and have documented financial need for the next year. Hours per week may range up to 29 hours per week. Approval for more than 29 hours per week may be permitted with written approval from the Vice Chancellor of Finance. Notification of approval must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office. Work Study funds are limited and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Additional Employment Opportunities

There are a limited number of part-time student employment opportunities. Students should contact Career Services for information.

Employment opportunities can be viewed at https://w.umwestern.edu/info/career-services/.

Tuition Waivers

The Board of Regents of the Montana University System has authorized each unit of the Montana University System to grant waivers of tuition and out-of-state tuition to a limited number of regularly enrolled undergraduate and graduate students who meet prescribed criteria. Tuition waivers do not waive mandatory fees.

Tuition waivers may be granted to recognize exceptional accomplishments or to increase accessibility of higher education to those who require financial assistance. Certain students, such as high school honor students, international students, or Native Americans of Montana, may be exempt from paying out-of-state tuition. These tuition exemptions are determined by the Financial Aid Office.

Students who receive out-of-state tuition waivers must pay all mandatory fees.

Dependents of Montana University System Employees Tuition Waiver

Dependents of a Montana University System employee are eligible for a 50% reduction of residential tuition. The guardian must have completed five years of employment at three-quarter (3/4) time or more without a break in service. Employees utilizing employee tuition waivers are not eligible for a dependent partial tuition waiver. For each qualifying employee, only one dependent may utilize the dependent partial tuition waiver in an academic term.

Montana University System Honor Scholarship

This scholarship waives tuition and is awarded to top graduating seniors in Montana by the Board of Regents. To activate this scholarship, a student must submit the form received from the Board of Regents to the UMW Financial Aid Office.

American Indian Waiver

Montana Indian students have been granted American Indian Tuition Waivers by the Montana Board of Regents. To qualify, the student must have been a bona-fide resident of the State of Montana upon enrolling at UMW, must be one-quarter (1/4) degree of Indian blood documented by a certificate or tribal enrollment card, and have demonstrated financial need via the FAFSA.

American Indian Waivers do not waive all fees. The tuition is waived. The American Indian Waiver may not be used with other state fee waivers. All other fees are the student’s responsibility. The tuition waiver will continue as long as the student maintains satisfactory academic progress according to the standards provided in the Satisfactory Progress Policy, or is available at the Financial Aid Office.

Senior Citizen Tuition Waiver

To be eligible for the Senior Citizen Tuition Waiver, individuals must be 65 years of age or older, provide a copy of a driver’s license or other proof of age when registering, and have been bona-fide resident of Montana for at least one year prior to enrollment at UMW. This waiver may be need-based.

University of Montana Employees Tuition Waiver

University of Montana employees must be in-state residents employed at least three-quarter (3/4) time on the date of registration and for the entire semester. Employees receiving a tuition waiver must have approval of their supervisor and the department head. A maximum of eight credits may be waived. Employees may not take more than one “block course” per semester.

Veterans Tuition Waiver

Certain honorably discharged veterans are entitled to a Veterans Tuition Waiver. Those using this tuition waiver program must pay their fees before they will be officially registered. To be eligible for the tuition waiver program, veterans must file a completed tuition waiver form, a certified copy of the DD214 form, and a letter from the Veterans Administration stating that benefits have expired to the Veterans Affairs Coordinator in the Financial Aid Office; must be a bona-fide Montana resident for at least one year prior to enrollment at UMW; and must have served between the dates of 12/7/41 to 12/31/46 World War II; 6/22/50 to 1/31/55 Korea; 1/1/64 to 5/7/75 Vietnam, and/or on location during the Lebanon, Grenada-Panama, Persian Gulf, Iraq, or Afghanistan Conflicts. Some qualifying dates for recent conflicts are not listed and are evaluated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with Board of Regents policy.

Other Tuition Waiver

Several other tuition waivers are available for war orphans, dependents of prisoners of war, and surviving spouse or children of any Montana firefighter or peace officer killed in the line of duty. Contact the Financial Aid Office for details.


Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE)

Students from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marina Islands may be eligible for the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program. Upon notification of eligibility, these students pay one and one-half (1½) times the tuition for resident students plus all other fees applicable to all students. Contact Admissions for more information on WUE Scholarships. Students must maintain a minimum of a 2.7 GPA once awarded a WUE Scholarship.

Scholarship Recipients

Many scholarship recipients are required to maintain higher scholarship standards than described in this policy. Such standards are often outlined in a notification letter sent to the student. Students who feel they may not be able to maintain minimum acceptable standards should contact the Financial Aid Office.

Other Financial Aid Programs Available To Students

In addition to the financial aid programs described on the preceding pages, other funding sources are available to some students who meet special eligibility criteria. Generally, funds received through these agencies do not have to be repaid.

Job Service

Some students may qualify for assistance with tuition and fees via their local Job Service. Contact the Dillon Job Service for more information.

Social Security

Students eligible for Social Security Educational Benefits should contact their local Social Security Office for more information.

State Vocational & Rehabilitation Service

Certain disabled or handicapped persons may qualify for educational assistance through the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services. Contact that office for more information.

Tribal Higher Education Grant

Tribal Higher Education Grants are available to Native American students enrolled in a full-time course of study. To be eligible, the student must demonstrate financial need and be at least one-quarter (25%) American Indian, Eskimo, or Aleut blood as recognized by a tribal group. The award limits are based on the student’s need and the availability of funds. Contact a Tribal Area Office for information. Needs Analysis forms are available through Tribal Higher Education and are typically due June 1st.

Veterans Benefits and Tuition Assistance

Website: Veteran and Military Education Benefits

The Veterans Certifying Officials located in the UMW Financial Aid Office are available to assist veterans and their dependents with procedures for enrolling at UMW and applying for educational benefits. The Certifying Officials acts as an intermediary between veterans and the Veterans Administration Office at Fort Harrison, Montana, and between veterans and the Department of Veterans Affairs Office in St. Louis, Missouri.

All veterans and eligible persons receiving educational benefits under Veterans Administration programs are required by law to report promptly to the Veterans Administration any changes that may affect the amount of money being received. These changes include dropping courses, withdrawing from school, not attending classes, changes in marital status, and added dependents.

To be considered full-time, undergraduate students must carry 12 credits, or 16 block credits, during each of Fall and Spring Semesters. As the criteria for Summer Session differs, veterans should contact the UMW Veterans Certifying Officials for more information.

* Contact the Veterans Certifying Officials in the Financial Aid Office for explanation of Block certifications.

The Veterans Administration expects the veteran to make satisfactory progress according to UMW’s Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy, regularly attend classes, and pursue a final objective. For information and applications, contact the UMW Veterans Certifying Officials or the Veterans Administration Office, Fort Harrison MT 59636, (800) 332-6125. Credits are certified based upon progress toward the veteran’s degree program according to VA regulations.

A tuition waiver is available for students who have exhausted VA benefits. An individual using the Veterans Tuition Waiver must have a tuition waiver form, a DD214 form on file at UMW, proof that benefits have expired, be a Montana resident, and have served during certain times of conflict.

UMW will not impose any penalty, including the assessment of late fees, the denial of access to classes, libraries, or other institutional facilities, or the requirement that a covered individual borrow additional funds, on any covered individual because of the individual’s inability to meet his or her financial obligations to the institution due to the delayed disbursement funding from VA under chapter 31 or 33.

Financial Aid Policies

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

In order to receive financial aid, a student must be in an eligible program. An eligible program is a course of study that leads to a certificate, associate, bachelor, or higher degree. Students receiving financial aid are required to maintain satisfactory academic progress. Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 2.0; must complete a minimum of 67% of their attempted credit hours with a passing grade.

Students who receive failing grades or completely withdraw during a semester may be subject to having a portion or all of their aid returned and will owe the school the amount returned.  The student may also be suspended from financial aid.

Students receiving financial aid must complete their degree programs within a reasonable period of time as established by the University. Students may receive financial assistance only as long as the cumulative number of attempted credits is less than 150 percent of the number required for the completion of the bachelor’s degree (180 credits for most programs). Students who want consideration for assistance beyond the 180 credits must submit a petition to the Financial Aid Office. Pell grant recipients can only receive grants for a maximum of twelve semesters. View the full policy on the UMW website.


Changes in Satisfactory Progress Standards

Exceptions or amendments to any of the specific provisions regarding Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards may be made at any time, without publication, due to changes in federal, state, and/or institutional regulations and policies. Questions concerning this policy should be addressed to the Financial Aid Office.

Appeal of Financial Aid Suspension

Students may appeal in writing by submitting a Financial Aid Appeals Form or is available from the Financial Aid Office. The Financial Aid Appeals are reviewed as needed but students are encouraged to submit the form prior to the first Thursday of each month. It is the student’s responsibility to know if their grade reports, when compared to the Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards, will cause suspension of their financial aid. The Financial Aid Office reviews SAP at the end of EACH semester. Warning and Suspension letters will be sent to students via email and letter form. Students are encouraged to notify the Financial Aid Office when reinstatement conditions have been met.

Reinstatement of Financial Aid

Students whose suspension time has elapsed or who have successfully completed their academic plan must notify the Financial Aid Office and submit a grade transcript for review. Reinstatement of financial aid is subject to funds available at the time the completed file is reviewed. An appeal is required and is subject to approval.

Non-Degree Students

A non-degree student, by definition, is not considered to be in a degree program and is therefore not eligible for financial aid. Students enrolled for educator licensure or re-licensure may be eligible for aid.

Student Eligibility Review

Montana Western reserves the right to review and cancel awards at any time due to changes in financial or academic status, or because of the recipient’s failure to observe reasonable standards of citizenship. All Perkins Loans, Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, and Work Study employment opportunities are awarded subject to Congressional action and the availability of federal funds.

Transfer of Financial Aid to another Institution

Financial awards other than Pell Grants are not transferable from one institution to another. To add another institution to the Student Aid Report, call 800-4FED-AID (800-433-3243), or add the school online at www.FAFSA.ed.gov.

Return of Title IV Funds/Institutional Refund Policy

This policy applies to students who withdraw, cease attending, or are expelled. Contact the Financial Aid Office for current policy information.

Federal aid is paid based on attendance. Pell Grants will be recalculated when a student withdraws. The Federal Government defines attendance for On-line students as:

In a distance education context, documenting that a student has logged into an online class is not sufficient, by itself, to demonstrate academic attendance by the student.


A school must demonstrate that a student participated in class or was otherwise engaged in an academically related activity, such as by contributing to an online discussion or initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a course-related question.

Refunds for these students are determined according to the following policy:

  • The term “Title IV Funds” refers to the federal financial aid programs authorized under the Higher Education Act of 1965 (as amended) and includes the following programs: Unsubsidized Direct Loans, Subsidized Direct Loans, Federal Pell Grants, and Federal SEOG.
  • For Financial Aid purposes, a student’s withdrawal date is:
    1. The date the student began the institution’s withdrawal process or officially notified the institution of intent to withdraw; or
    2. The midpoint of the period for a student who leaves without notifying the institution, or earns zero grade points; or
    3. The student’s last date of attendance at a documented academically-related activity.

Return of funds and/or pro-ration of aid will be calculated for all students who withdraw from the University or who withdraw from an individual block without attending.

In accordance with federal regulations, when financial aid is involved, returned funds are allocated in the following order:

  1. Unsubsidized Direct Loans
  2. Subsidized Direct Loans
  3. Federal Pell Grants
  4. Federal SEOG
  5. Other Title IV assistance
  6. Other federal sources of aid
  7. Other state, private, and institutional aid
  8. The student

The student’s responsibilities in regard to the return of Title IV funds include returning to the Title IV program any funds that were disbursed directly to the student and for which the student was determined to be ineligible via the Return of Title IV Funds calculation, including any financial aid refunds the student may have received.

Students who do not begin attendance in all block credits will be subject to a reduction of Pell Grant funds, if applicable.

For more information about institutional refund of fees for withdrawal, see Tuition and Fees  Information.