What Does it Cost to Attend James Madison University?

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Ranked as the most likely U.S. college or university to be recommended to a friend or family member by a current student by The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education, it’s apparent current JMU students are happy with their college decision.

 

With students vouching for the university’s academic quality, social life, and amenities, and a strong reputation for student engagement and world-class faculty, it should come as no surprise that a James Madison University degree comes with a high price tag. However, college costs are not as straightforward as the price in the brochure might make them seem—keep reading to learn how to calculate the real cost of college, gain insight into the expense of attending JMU, and get a few tips for reducing the expense of college.

Why College Costs are Highly Variable

The price listed on the website of a school like James Madison can be a little misleading, as most students do not end up paying the full price for college. Rather, net cost—the published price of an institution minus any federal, state, or local aid, institutional grants, and merit scholarships—is a much better metric for determining what college will actually cost a student out of pocket.

James Madison University’s List Price

The list price—sometimes referred to as the cost of attendance—is the published price of tuition, room, and board at an institution. The list price at James Madison University in 2016-2017 for in-state students was $24,864 and $40,638 for out-of-state students. Very few students end up paying this price, however; typically, students paying full price for JMU are from affluent families with annual incomes exceeding $175,000 who are outside the top 30% of accepted students academically.

What is the Price of James Madison University with Financial Aid?

One of the elements that will affect the overall cost of college is the amount of financial aid received by a student. Financial aid net price deducts the amount of financial aid awarded to a student from the published price of an institution. The financial aid net price of JMU is $23,458 for in-state students and $39,259 for out-of-state students.

 

James Madison University Cost Based on Household Income

The income level of a student’s family has a significant effect on what a student pays to attend JMU. In general, the greater a student’s family means, the more they will pay for school. Below are average costs based on family income:

 

Family Income Average Net Price
Below $30,000 $12,872
$30,001-$48,000 $14,148
$48,001-$75,000 $17,369
$75,001-$110,000 $21,090
$110,000+ $24,152

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What is the Merit Aid Net Price? What is the Average Net Price for Students Without Need?

Merit aid is awarded for a variety of reasons including academic achievement, athletic skill, and artistic talent. Given regardless of financial need, merit aid is a great way for students from all financial backgrounds to reduce the overall expense of college. That said, merit aid is rarely awarded to JMU students—just 3.1% of undergraduates receive merit aid. The average merit aid award given to a student without need is $191.

 

The average cost of James Madison for students without financial need is $24,673 for in-state students and $40,447 for out-of-state students. In a CollegeVine survey of over 1,000 colleges, JMU ranked toward the bottom for merit aid generosity, placing 883rd.

 

Student Loans and Debt at James Madison University

Even after financial aid and merit scholarships, many students need to take out loans to cover the remaining cost of college. More than half of JMU students (55%) take out loans—on average borrowing $4,784 via federal student loans.  

Student Outcomes at James Madison University

Researching student outcomes is a fantastic way for students to get a grasp on the expected return on investment they can expect from a particular college. 80% of undergraduates at James Madison graduate within six years with the average salary of JMU alumni ten years after graduation being $56,600 a year—approximately $10,000 more than the average national income.

Local Cost of Living Considerations

Located in the Shenandoah Valley, Harrisonburg, Virginia, offers easy access to the stunning natural landscapes of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park, with the bustling urban environment of Washington, D.C., just two hours away. The cost of living index of Harrisonburg is 98.5, making it a slightly less expensive place to live than the average U.S. town.  

 

All first-year James Madison students are required to live on campus and while the university encourages students to live on campus throughout their college experience—even using the hashtag #liveon to promote the benefits—they realize that some students want the independence that comes with living on their own. Students choosing to live off campus will discover apartment prices ranging from $693 a month for one-bedrooms to $1,210 for three-bedrooms; prices will vary, however, due to any number of variables including the condition of the apartment, utilities, and proximity to campus.

Other Ways to Save

Getting a part-time job is a great way for college students to keep costs down while attending college. Virginia is one of 29 states in line with the $7.25 federal minimum wage. According to Indeed, popular college student positions like cashier and retail associate command more than minimum wage, earning $9.17 and $9.79 respectively. JMU’s Office of Student Employment maintains a listing of off-campus positions that may be of interest to students.

 

While some students may opt to take a part-time job off campus, James Madison also has numerous part-time positions available on campus. All undergraduates are able to apply for student and part-time positions listed on JMU Joblink.

 

Another way for students to make college more affordable is by applying for scholarships. James Madison University awards more than 400 scholarships each year to incoming students, many of them on the basis of merit. One such scholarship is the Thomas A. Dingledine Scholarship, which is awarded based on excellence in academics, leadership, and community service. JMU maintains a information page detailing the numerous scholarships available to incoming freshman.

 

Private scholarships are another avenue for students interested in reducing the expense of college. Although James Madison’s website offers some leads for learning about private scholarships, one scholarship of note is the National Merit Scholarship. This prestigious award is given to approximately 7,500 students annually who score in the top percentile on the PSAT/NMSQT.

 

If you and your college-bound student are struggling with the complexities of paying for college or simply want an experienced hand to guide you to a better understanding of the economics of higher education, CollegeVine can help. Our College Application Program can help families gain insight into the real cost of college, the financial aid process, and the anticipated earning potential of certain schools and degrees. We can even help students research and apply for additional scholarships—minimizing the cost of college.  Contact us today!

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Timothy Peck
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.