There is a learning edition of Autodesk’s 3D Studio Max. This is called Gmax and is available for free from their website. I can’t really recommend it as it’s difficult to use and the workflow seems to battle against you. I suggest that you download it anyway and see how you find it. The better choice, this coming from a Max user, would have to be Alias’ Maya Personal Learning Edition. It has most of the features that the full version has. The main thing you’ll notice is a watermark on the renders, but at least you can learn the tools. You can’t even render with Gmax unless you install a third-party plug-in!
Good luck learning and be sure to show us your progress. :)