Montana University System Honors Scholarship Winners

Montana State University-Bozeman received 134 students out of 204 Montana University System Honors Scholarships offered to the best Montana high school graduates.

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The best and brightest students in Montana are offered free four-year tuition at any state campus, and again this year the majority of winners have chosen to attend Montana State University.

The Montana University System awarded a total of 204 Honors Scholarships this year to graduating high school seniors. Of those, 134 students or 66 percent enrolled at the Bozeman campus.

Ron Muffick, director of student affairs at the commissioner of higher education’s office in Helena, said the pattern has been “pretty standard” over the years.

This year 50 Honors Scholarship winners enrolled at the University of Montana, 11 at Montana Tech in Butte, four at MSU-Billings, three at MSU-Northern in Havre and one each at UM-Western in Dillon and Flathead Valley Community College.

The Montana Board of Regents created the MUS Honors Scholarships more than 20 years ago, Muffick said. They’re worth roughly $4,000 a year in waived tuition at any state two-year or four-year campus or community college.

“We’re very proud of it,” Tracy Ellig, MSU spokesman, said of the Bozeman campus’ popularity with scholarship winners. “This one school has more than all the other schools combined. We’re very pleased to have these Montana students come here, who very likely could attend many, many prestigious universities across the country.”

Ilse-Mari Lee, dean of MSU’s Honors College, said, “It’s extraordinary.”

Lee said the students are attracted to MSU because of the quality and variety of its academic offerings, the presence of an Honors College and the chance to do research as undergraduates.

Of MSU’s 134 Honors Scholarship winners this year, by far the largest number — 37 percent — are majoring in engineering, she said. Another 26 percent are majoring in humanities or sciences at the College of Letters and Science, and the rest are in a broad range of majors, from agriculture to education.

“Clearly engineering draws a lot of wonderful, wonderful students,” Lee said.

To win the scholarship, high school seniors must be U.S. citizens, Montana residents and have at least a 3.4 grade point average. The scholarships can be renewed each year in college if students take 30 credits, stay continuously enrolled and abide by the student code of conduct.

Muffick said his office combines high school seniors’ grade point averages, school ranking and ACT test scores to create a score for each student. Offers are made to the top 230 to 250 high school seniors, with a goal of about 200 accepting, knowing that some will choose to attend colleges out of state.

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Gail Schontzler can be reached at 406-582-2633 or gails@dailychronicle.com.

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