Montana is one of the largest states in the country by sheer size, but it’s also one of the least populous and least densely populated. As a result, its higher education offerings are few compared to other states and spread out throughout Montana. It is one of 15 states belonging to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, which works to boost access to higher education for students in the West. As part of this commission, Montana has participated in initiatives focusing on distance education, workforce development, and behavioral health, as well as worked to accelerate the adoption of effective practices and policies to advance excellence in technology-enhanced teaching and learning in higher education. It’s also helped students save more than $86.4 million on more than 26,000 annual tuition bills since 1988.
The Montana University System launched its own multi-year initiative in 2010 called College!NOW to make two-year higher education more accessible to students, better understood, better coordinated, and, as a result, better utilized across the state. Some of the aims of the initiative include using technology to expand access for students and create savings for two-year colleges; funding colleges based on students’ progress and success, not just enrollment; and expanding dual high school/college enrollment and improving the availability of two-year/four-year transfer.