The grant, from the Helene Fuld Health Trust, will be paid in three equal installments over three years. During that time, $100,000 per year in scholarship money will be available to award to students. Based in New York, the Helene Fuld Health Trust is the nation's largest private funder devoted exclusively to nursing students and nursing education.
"We're delighted to get this (grant) to help our students," said Gretchen McNeely, associate dean of the College of Nursing.
While half of the total grant amount will be used directly for student scholarships, the remaining $300,000 will be placed in a permanent endowed trust. The income from the trust will eventually be used, as well.
McNeely said it's likely the $100,000 per year in scholarship money will be distributed through scholarships in the amount of $1,000, which means that 100 MSU students per year could benefit from the grant.
"In the past, our philosophy has been to help as many students as we can, and I expect we will continue that same philosophy," McNeely said.
All undergraduate nursing students - McNeely estimated that perhaps 450 students fall into this category -- are eligible for the scholarships. Students who would like to be considered need to apply by Nov. 20. Decisions will be made based on both need and merit, McNeely said. A committee of four professors from the MSU College of Nursing who represent the college's different campuses will meet to decide how to divvy up the scholarship money. The first scholarships should be awarded this spring.
The money could make a huge difference in the lives of MSU nursing students, McNeely said, many of whom are scrambling to get by while they're in school.
McNeely said some students are so strapped financially that they have a hard time buying groceries for their families and paying the fee to take the licensing exam that they must pass in order to begin working.
"A lot of our students have to work a lot of hours while they're going to school," McNeely said. "If they can get a scholarship, they might not have to work as many hours. This could make it a whole lot easier for a lot of our students to be able to focus, work hard and be successful."
Scholarships that help get students through school could ultimately benefit Montana in an indirect way, too.
"Eventually, this might help ease a nursing shortage in Montana," McNeely said. "We don't have a huge shortage here compared to many other states, but we do have a disproportionate shortage in rural areas."
Administrators say MSU's baccalaureate nursing program is in great demand, with about 400 students applying each year for 184 available spots. The school's community-based program has 92 faculty members on five campuses across Montana: Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Kalispell and Missoula. All sites offer the same curriculum, but allow for local differences in course implementation.
More scholarship information for students is available at http://www.montana.edu/wwwnu/student/scholarships.htm.
For a related story, see:
"MSU receives $800,000 grant to train mental health nurse practitioners," July 22, 2009
Gretchen McNeely, (406) 994-3785 or firstname.lastname@example.org