Montana Access Scholarships Provide More Than $1 Million in Need-Based Student Aid

November 24, 2020

UM junior Kate Indreland has big plans to serve in the U.S. Army and pursue her doctorate and a professional career in the field of clinical psychology after graduation. A Big Timber native, Indreland wants to prevent suicide in the military and treat people living in refugee camps someday. The opportunity for the ROTC cadet to pursue such a meaningful career is made easier by the financial support she has received from the Montana Access Scholarship Fund.

Kate Indreland

“The burden of student debt stays with people for a long time if programs like these aren’t available,” she said. “I’m thankful for the donors who understand the trials of young people trying to better their lives with additional education.” 

Indreland is one of 661 UM students who have received a Montana Access Scholarship since fall 2019. The need-based support helps Montana-resident students with limited resources to succeed in their dreams of earning an undergraduate degree.

The Montana Access Scholarship initiative began to take shape in April 2019, when the 66th Montana Legislature approved $2 million in need-based student aid that, when matched by private donations, would provide a total of $4 million in financial aid for students studying throughout the Montana University System through the 2020-2021 academic year.

In September 2019 the University of Montana Foundation announced that UM-Missoula and Missoula College students would be eligible to receive more than $1 million in scholarships, provided that the University of Montana Foundation received $529,000 in philanthropic gifts directed to the initiative.

By October 2020 the $529,000 matching private-support goal had been met. Generous donors contributed more than 900 gifts of all sizes toward the initiative. Once both the donor-contributed and state matching funds are disbursed through 2021, more than 1,000 Montana-resident students who qualify for need-based financial aid at UM will receive support through the program.

UM Director of Financial Aid Emily Williamson explained that need-based awards like the Montana Access Scholarship provide critical assistance for students pursuing a college degree.

“These scholarships ensure higher education is affordable and accessible for UM students with limited resources,” she said. “Need-based financial aid empowers countless students to earn degrees and succeed beyond graduation.”  

Indreland is on track to graduate with a bachelor of arts in psychology in May 2022 and will be commissioned as second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. She intends to join the Medical Services Corps her senior year and hopes to learn how soldiers can apply positive psychology techniques like mindfulness in their professional and personal lives. After seven to ten years of active duty, she plans to complete a doctoral program and become a licensed clinical psychologist.

“Earning a post-graduate degree was never presented to me as an option in high school,” Indreland said. “It felt really empowering to receive this scholarship so I could continue to attend UM debt-free and study my passion.”  

In addition to her psychology courses, Indreland attends several ROTC classes, including a military science leadership class each semester, physical fitness training three times per week, and a weekly lab on tactical movements. Support from the Montana Access Scholarship allows her to focus on her studies and training.

“Thanks to the Montana Access Scholarship, I don’t have to worry about finding a job during the pandemic," Indreland said. “Instead, I can concentrate on earning my degree and graduating debt-free.” 

To learn more about the Montana Access Scholarships and opportunities to support other need-based scholarship funds for UM students, visit