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Dear Bobcat parent and family members,

On Oct. 16, MSU held a grand opening ceremony for the new American Indian Hall. On a perfect fall Saturday morning, more than 1,000 people attended the historic event to celebrate this magnificent, state-of-the-art building that will provide Native students with a home away from home.

MSU's American Indian Hall provides important ceremonial spaces in addition to classrooms, study rooms, and areas for gatherings. The building also houses American Indian/Alaska Native Student Success Services, which supports Native students through advising, tutoring, counseling, and advocacy. 

MSU currently has a record 811 Native students enrolled for the fall semester. The intentional spaces created in and around the new building will help make MSU the school of choice for Native students throughout the state, region, and country. Thanks to everyone who worked to make this building a reality. If you're ever on campus, I encourage you to visit the American Indian Hall -- it is stunning! A major shout out to Dr. Walter Fleming in the Department of Native American Studies; Lisa Perry, director of American Indian/Alaska Native Student Success; and so many others for making the opening celebration such a success.

Turning our attention to important upcoming deadlines related to financial aid and scholarships: As I mentioned in the last issue of the e-news, the academic year 2022-2023 application period for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, opened Oct. 1. 

The FAFSA is a form completed by current and prospective college students to determine their eligibility for student financial aid, including loans and grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

Though financial aid provided by the Federal Student Aid program is reserved for U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens, international students can still file a FAFSA to be considered by their school for school- and state-provided financial aid.

Filing the FAFSA by MSU's priority date of Dec. 1 ensures that your student will receive the best possible aid offers from limited funding sources such as supplemental grants and work-study awards.

The FAFSA is not required but is strongly encouraged, especially for any student who plans to apply for scholarships during their time at MSU. It helps the Office of Financial Aid Services staff advise students and families about their best options and make awards accordingly. The application uses 2020 tax information, which can be imported from the IRS to simplify the process. 

For MSU-based scholarships, the Cat Scholarships application portal opens on Nov. 1. This is the single application that students fill out to apply for most academic and non-academic department and program scholarships. The advantage of applying through Cat Scholarhips is that students don't have to search them out; in completing the application, your student will be guided to opportunities for which they're eligible.

Feb. 1 is the priority application deadline for most scholarships in the Cat Scholarships system, and this would be a good topic of conversation over Thanksgiving break.

Speaking of college finances, if your student is interested in earning extra cash while having fun, the Office of Admissions is recruiting new Orientation Leaders for summer 2022. They are looking for students with a positive attitude and strong interpersonal skills who want to improve their communication and leadership abilities.

MSU Orientation Leaders are an essential part of our effort to provide a welcoming, inclusive campus environment as students transition to campus life. If your student might be interested in becoming an Orientation Leader, they can get more information and access the application on the Orientation Leader webpage. The application deadline for new Orientation Leaders is Nov. 8. 

Finally, with Halloween this weekend, I'd like to conclude with some general health and safety reminders. Halloween is historically one of our biggest weekends for social events, resulting in an uptick in campus alcohol and drug violations and related injuries. This week, please ask your student about their Halloween plans, encourage them to go out with friends they know and trust and never accept a drink from someone they do not know. In addition to planning for their costume, we encourage them to also plan for:

  • How they will get to and from events 
  • How long they intend to stay at events, along with their group
  • What to do if they get separated from their group

MSU's Safe Cats app is also a great resource. The app features Friend Walk, which lets users send their location in real-time to a friend who can make sure they arrive at their destination safely. When a friend isn't available, students can use the app's Safety Escort feature to call UPD and request a ride on campus.

COVID-19 continues to circulate widely in the Bozeman community. If your student plans to attend indoor social gatherings to celebrate Halloween, please encourage them to wear face coverings -- perhaps incorporating it into their costume -- and practice social distancing if possible. Hopefully, your student is vaccinated. If not, COVID-19 vaccines are readily available for free on campus, and students can still enter the It's Your Shot to Win student vaccination sweepstakes through Dec. 13.

Warm regards,

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Matthew R. Caires
Dean of Students

P.S. Do you have a student who lives for powder days? Interested in backcountry skiing/riding yourself or continuing education around avalanche safety. Join MSU's annual Snow and Avalanche Workshop (SAW) event Thursday, Nov. 4, from 6 to 9 p.m. This free event is designed to bring value to enthusiastic new skiers and seasoned professionals alike, and will focus on topics relevant to the local skiers and riders in Southwest Montana.

Learn more about 2021 speakers and find the link to the livestream on our Outdoor Rec special events webpage.