Dear Bobcat parent and family members,
Well, it happened again. Every year we work our tails off in preparation for Parent and Family Weekend, and, wow, the time and effort really pay off. It's probably my favorite weekend of the year. I get to catch up with parents halfway through the fall semester and hear about how their student has started their MSU journey. I'm so grateful for all the parents and family members who joined us this past weekend -- I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
As we head into the second half of our fall semester, I want to make you aware of some campus offices and resources that can help with your student's success inside and outside the classroom. With projects, deadlines, midterm exams and a wealth of fun events going on, many students may become overwhelmed. We understand this, and it's one reason why we actively promote the Allen Yarnell Center for Student Success (AYCSS), which offers a wide range of academic support services, including SmartyCats Tutoring, Success Advising and Financial Education.
If you hear from your student that they are having a hard time, remind them of the many support mechanisms in place to help them. Links to mental health resources are available on the MSU student homepage under the Safety and Support heading or the Assistance tab, and you can find a comprehensive list of MSU's academic and non-academic support services on the Office of the Provost website.
I would like to highlight two particular offices that can be of great help to students during this part of the school year: the Math and Stat Center and the Writing Center.
The Math and Stat Center is open for face-to-face, drop-in tutoring from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. Both peer tutors and faculty advisers are available to help any student with questions or roadblocks with a math or statistics course. As we approach midterms, this office can provide critical assistance, so encourage your student to seek help if they are having a hard time.
The Writing Center can help students with reports, papers, presentations, applications and more. The center has services in three different campus buildings and is open for appointments six days a week, with walk-in tutoring available in Romney Hall. Students can visit the Writing Center's website for more information or to book appointments.
Another unique offering from the AYCSS is Career Education Coaches. This team helps students explore majors and programs based on their interests, skills and goals. Whether your student has picked a major or is still exploring their options, a Career Education Coach can help them connect their passions and motivations to potential occupations by taking the Strong Interest Inventory.
If you have a student returning to MSU next year, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may be something you're familiar with. Current and incoming students seeking federal financial aid, including grants and loans, complete the form annually, and if your student is still a dependent, your 2022 federal income tax information may also need to be submitted.
The U.S. Department of Education is modifying the 2024-25 FASFA for the first time in decades. This change will require each student to apply completely without a renewal process, in addition to streamlining the process and expanding eligibility for aid. Even if you or your student have not applied previously, please consider doing so and being evaluated under the new process. These changes are resulting in a delayed FAFSA opening for 2024-25, which will likely occur in late December. You can stay up-to-date and prepare for filing the 2024-25 FAFSA on the Federal Student Aid webpage.
Due to the changes to next year's FAFSA, MSU's priority deadline has been extended to February 1.
Filling out the FAFSA is encouraged for any students who plan to apply for scholarships, because it helps MSU's Office of Financial Aid Services advise students and families about the full range of options when it comes to paying for school. Please note also that MSU's Cat Scholarship application will open Nov. 1 and includes a wide range of scholarships.
Lastly, since winter break will be here before we know it, you may want to start preparing for your student's end-of-semester travel. Their last day of classes will depend on their Finals Week schedule, so ask them to consult before purchasing any tickets. Remember: professors will not reschedule exams for a student to catch a flight, so make sure your student knows what their Finals Week looks like.
That's a lot of information to take in! Thank you for making it this far, and as always, please reach out with your questions and feedback.
Matthew R. Caires
Bobcat Parent and Family Program, Montana State University