How to Park at Montana State University

If you are an off-campus student who drives to school, parking could very well seem like a punishment. You could pay a lot of money for a good spot in school lots, a decent amount of money for a mediocre spot in school lots, pay no money in the hopes that you will not be ticketed for parking without a pass, or you can park far away and walk to campus. But whatever way you choose, it will cost you something, whether it is money or time, and that can be stressful. As you find yourself stressed, hopefully you can also find your way to this blog where we will try to offer you some good solutions to relieve that stress, be it present or future.

Before You Start Parking on Campus

First, determine how long you think you will need to be leaving your car on campus, and how often you plan to do so. For short-term parking, such as once or twice a month, you may want to consider using the Passport Parking app, which allows you to pay for up to 5 hours of parking (with prices up to $12 per day) in the convenient parking garage. For long-term parking needs you should consider how much you want to spend and how far you are comfortable walking. As of January 2021, it costs about $235 annually for someone living off-campus to purchase a permit to park in the Bobcat lots, all of which are relatively close to campus, but the closest ones fill up quickest. If you are feeling more “spendy” and/or don’t want to walk as far, you can purchase one of the Elk permits ($555 annually with closer lots) or an annual garage parking pass ($625 annually with parking in the garage behind Norm Asbjornson Hall). There are a couple more options in between and you can check them out at this link. Alternatively, you can pursue more cost-effective, but possibly harder, options. These include biking to campus (wear gloves, a jacket, and consider studded bicycle tires because winter months can be cold and icy) or utilizing the free Streamline bus service which allows you to access many parts of campus or town (found at this link).

If You Have Already Gotten A Citation

If, unfortunately, you have gotten a citation, there are several things you should do. Firstly, you should keep in mind that all citations must be paid or appealed within 10 days of its issue date in order to avoid late fees, student account holds, payroll deductions (for MSU employees), or transfer to a collections-agency. In order to pay or appeal your citation, you can go to this link, which provides relevant information and prices for the various offenses. If you do choose to appeal your ticket, keep in mind that these reasons are NOT acceptable reasons for appeal:

  • It is your first citation
  • You were unfamiliar with parking regulations
  • Parking illegally for a short period of time
  • You failed to observe signed/marked areas
  • Lost citations (unfortunately you are responsible if you lose your citation or are unable to locate it)
  • Inability to pay
  • State and federal regulation violations

What to Do After It’s Over

Once you have either paid or successfully appealed your ticket, it may be time to consider a new strategy. Parking machines/checking technology have gotten very advanced these days and it is unrealistic to expect that you will get away parking for free in paying lots for any large amount of time. Current technology uses a simple camera and license plate scanner which are both accurate and time-efficient, allowing for constant surveillance of lots. Your best plan should be to consider alternatives such as the ones presented above. You could purchase a cheaper parking pass and have to walk a little further, or you could purchase a more expensive one and walk a shorter distance. Otherwise, you could pursue even cheaper options, such as the already mentioned Streamline bus service and bicycling. Tickets can be expensive and with multiple tickets you could see your monthly expenses rising at a drastic rate. Hopefully, with the information provided in this blog you can avoid the headaches and pain that come with parking drama and spend that energy on your academic success!


Montana State Parking Services, 1-(406)-994-1723,

Streamline Bus Service, 1-(406)-587-2434,

Montana State Office of Health Advancement, 1-(406)-994-4380,

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