JMU OFFICE OF FINANCIAL AID & SCHOLARSHIPS
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The Frequently Asked Questions below are broken down into five categories. Please search the appropriate category to find the answer to your question. If you need further assistance, please contact our office by phone at (540) 568-7820, fax at (540) 568-7994, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, in person on the 3rd floor in Warren Hall, on-line at www.jmu.edu/finaid, or by mail at James Madison University, Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships, 170 Bluestone Drive, MSC 3519, Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807.
Financial aid funds are provided from federal, state, and institutional sources, which are administered by a financial aid office. Broadly speaking, two categories of financial aid exist: gift aid (grants and scholarships) and self help (loans and employment).
No. JMU does not base its admission decisions on a student's financial status.
All students interested in federal aid must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submit it to the federal processing center. To receive priority financial aid consideration at JMU, the FAFSA must be received at the federal processor by March 1st prior to the academic year you will be attending. For example, if you will begin at JMU in Fall 2014, then March 1, 2014 is your FAFSA priority filing date. The FAFSA can be obtained from your high school guidance counselor, your college's financial aid office, or online at www.fafsa.gov.
In completing the FAFSA, read all directions carefully. Errors cause delays!
You will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the federal government shortly after filing your FAFSA. If you submit the FAFSA on-line, then you will receive your SAR electronically. If corrections are necessary, make them, and send the corrected SAR back to the federal processing center.
You can still apply for financial aid after the priority filing date, but some funds may be limited.
The FAFSA is the only form required to apply for all forms of federal (including the Parent PLUS Direct Loan), state, and institutional (grants) financial aid during the fall and spring terms at JMU. In the summer an additional institutional form is required, but that only applies to summer.
There are additional forms that need to be completed to accept Federal Direct Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Work-Study, Federal Grad PLUS Direct Loan, and Federal Parent PLUS Direct Loans. These will all be outlined when the student and/or parent is notified of his/her financial aid eligibility, and are only necessary should a student or parents wish to accept any of these programs that are offered.
Financial aid is not automatically renewed or guaranteed from one year to the next. You must reapply for financial aid every year by completing the FAFSA or the Renewal FAFSA! Make sure you apply by the priority filing date to maximize your aid potential!
By comparing your Expected Family Contribution to the cost of attendance at JMU, your "financial need" is determined. This need dictates your eligibility for federal student aid as well as some other aid sources. Please see the How Financial Aid is Determined at JMU section of the JMU Terms and Conditions for Financial Aid-Consumer Information document under the “Forms” link at www.jmu.edu/finaid.
All students who are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens may apply for federally funded financial assistance which includes the Federal Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), the Federal Work-Study Program, the Federal Perkins Loan the Federal Direct Loan, Federal Grad PLUS Direct Loan, and the Federal Parent PLUS Direct Loan. However, only Virginia residents are eligible to receive aid provided by the Commonwealth of Virginia such as the Commonwealth Award (CA) and the Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program (VGAP).
Federal and state financial aid funds are available to students enrolled in qualifying JMU Study Abroad programs. Financial aid eligibility is generally determined the same way it is for a student studying on campus at JMU. The major difference in most cases is that your Cost of Attendance will be based on the anticipated expenses applicable to your study abroad program, which will be provided by the Office of International Programs. Consequently, the student does not need to contact the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships for special consideration. In most cases, the increased costs associated with a study abroad program will generate additional PLUS or alternative loan eligibility, as federal and state grants are not increased based on participation in a study abroad program. Federal loan limits still apply.
Students who apply for aid by the March 1st priority filing date are awarded aid based on available federal, state, and institutional funds. Much of the federal and state financial aid funds are need based, so students with a higher need are generally eligible for more money than those with a lesser need. However, eligibility for more money and the actual awarding of more money do not always go hand-in-hand. Awarding depends on fund availability at that time, which is why it is imperative that you apply early.
No. There are limits to the amount of money available for awarding to students at JMU. This is determined by the allocation JMU receives from the federal and state governments, as well as available institutional funds, and is another reason to apply early. Students can generally be considered for the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Direct Loan, Federal Grad PLUS Direct Loan, and Federal Parent PLUS Direct Loan programs throughout the school year, but aid from other programs may not be available to late filers.
In order to be eligible to receive financial assistance, you must be making satisfactory progress toward graduation as defined by the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships and federal regulations. State and federal aid programs (including Parent PLUS Direct Loan and Graduate PLUS Direct Loan) are included under this policy. In addition, some institutional programs are subject to this policy as well. A copy of JMU's Satisfactory Academic Progress policy can be found under the “Forms” link at www.jmu.edu/finaid. Students not meeting the minimum Satisfactory Academic Progress standards cannot receive federal or state financial aid. However, an appeal process is available for students who are not meeting the standards due to extenuating circumstances. If the appeal is approved, then it is possible to receive federal and/or state financial aid. If the appeal is denied, then students must secure financial assistance from other sources until they begin meeting the minimum standards. Some private loan lenders will approve loans for students who do not meet the minimum Satisfactory Academic Progress standards.
Financial aid is typically credited to your student account in two equal disbursements, one-half in the fall and one-half in the spring. Once your university charges have been paid (tuition, fees, room, board, etc.), any additional monies will be refunded to you. You can use the refund to help pay for educational expenses such as books and supplies. Federal Work-Study funds are an exception to this rule. Students must work to earn their Federal Work-Study funds, and are paid twice a month for what was earned during the pay period.
Returning JMU Students
The process of notifying returning students of their financial aid eligibility for the next academic year starts in the end of June. When awarded, returning students are sent an e-mail to their JMU e-mail account directing them to MyMadison to accept or decline their financial aid offer, as well as submit any other forms needed to complete the application process. Paper financial aid award notices are not sent to returning students.
Prospective & First Time JMU Students
The process of sending preliminary financial aid award notices to prospective students for a new academic year begins around the first of April. Students cannot accept any financial aid based on the receipt of a preliminary financial aid award notice. Notices will be sent electronically to the same e-mail address used by the Admissions Office when students are notified that they have been accepted to JMU. Aid can only be accepted after a student has received an official financial aid award notice. The process of sending official financial aid award notices to first time students for a new academic year starts around the end of June. These notices will be sent electronically to the student’s JMU e-mail account with directions to go to MyMadison in order to accept or decline a financial aid offer, as well as submit any other forms needed to complete the application process.
Parents of a first time or returning student who are eligible to apply for a Federal Parent PLUS Direct Loan are mailed a paper Financial Aid Parent PLUS Direct Loan Award Notice explaining their Parent PLUS Direct Loan eligibility. The notice contains instructions regarding how to apply for this loan. The award notice is sent to parents at the same time students are notified of their eligibility, as ONLY a parent can accept a Parent PLUS Direct Loan. They may apply for a Parent PLUS Direct Loan by completing the following documents:
Grad PLUS Direct Loan borrowers cannot accept their loans in MyMadison. They may apply for a Grad PLUS Direct Loan by completing the following documents:
Please review the Self Service Instructions at http://www.jmu.edu/finaid/selfservice.shtml to learn more about the financial aid acceptance process for loans.
Once your awards are showing as accepted on MyMadison they will then appear under pending aid, which indicates that the funds are expected to come in. However, the business office will not deduct the amount from the bill until the funds actually arrive and are credited to your bill.
You can pay your bill at any time through the University Business Office. If you are expecting financial aid to cover a portion of the costs, just subtract the net amount of your aid from your bill and pay the difference.
Yes, the University Business Office provides an option to sign up on a monthly payment plan. The plan allows families to pay annual costs in equal monthly installments, thereby alleviating the burden of making large semester payments. The monthly payment plan is a budgeting plan, not a loan. There are no interest charges. A nominal fee is generally charged to apply for participating in a plan. Information on the payment plan option is sent to prospective students and their parents each spring from the University Business Office. You can also find information on this payment option at www.jmu.edu/ubo.
A “dropped” class does not show up on your transcript and you do not get a grade for the class. Consequently, you are not charged for the class, as it is like you never attempted it. A “withdrawal” gives you a grade of “w” for the class. It shows on your transcript as an attempted class and you will be charged for the course. Withdrawing from a course generally does not result in a tuition reduction.
Yes. For example, if you were awarded financial aid based on 12 credit hours and you drop to 9 hours, then your financial aid will be recalculated based on 9 hours, even if your aid has disbursed. In some cases, you may have to immediately repay financial aid you already received. See Section 12: Effects of Dropping and Withdrawing from Classes in the JMU Terms & Conditions for Financial Aid-Consumer Information section of our website at www.jmu.edu/finaid for more information about the affect dropping a class has on financial aid eligibility.
See Section 12: Effects of Dropping and Withdrawing from Classes in the JMU Terms & Conditions for Financial Aid-Consumer Information section of our website at www.jmu.edu/finaid.
The student’s MyMadison account will list the documentation that is required for verification. Additionally, an e-mail is sent to the student’s JMU e-mail account notifying him or her of where the verification documents can be downloaded. Students that need additional forms (other than the normal verification forms) or parents who did not include a valid e-mail on the student’s FASFA ISIR are mailed the documents that show on MyMadison. The majority of the verification forms can be found in the “Forms” section on the Financial Aid homepage at www.jmu.edu/finaid.
The only application required to apply for grants awarded through the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships is the FAFSA. In some cases, applying by the March 1st priority filing date can increase your likelihood of receiving grant money.
Yes. Grant eligibility is partially determined by enrollment status. For example, two students with the same EFC (as determined by the FAFSA) will receive different grant awards if one is taking 12 credits and the other is taking 9 credits. See Section 12: Effects of Dropping and Withdrawing from Classes in the JMU Terms & Conditions for Financial Aid-Consumer Information section of our website at www.jmu.edu/finaid for more information about the affect dropping a class has on financial aid eligibility.
Information about the federal and state grants offered at JMU can be found on-line at http://www.jmu.edu/finaid/aidprog.shtml. The “Grants and Scholarships” section in the JMU Terms and Conditions for Financial Aid-Consumer Information-Consumer Information document under the “Forms” link at www.jmu.edu/finaid contains information about University Grants as well.
You can visit the Student Work Experience Center, Warren Hall, 3rd Floor, which is a part of the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships. You can schedule an appointment to meet with a representative from the Student Work Experience Center to discuss part-time employment options while you are pursuing your studies here at JMU. You can also visit the Student Work Experience Center web site at www.jmu.edu/stuemploy to view both on-campus and off-campus job opportunities.
Most on-campus job opportunities are posted on-line through JobLink. Visit JobLink at https://joblink.jmu.edu to complete an electronic application and to view and apply for current student job openings.
To search for local off campus jobs, visit the Student Work Experience Center website on a regular basis at www.jmu.edu/stuemploy and click on the link for Off Campus Job Opportunities.
The Federal Work-Study Program (FWS) is offered to students who have a remaining need, as determined by the FAFSA, after all other need-based aid has been awarded. Work-Study gives you the potential to work and earn money while attending college. Work-Study students are paid twice a month. You can only receive payment for the hours you have worked. Work-Study wages earned will not be credited to a student’s account.
Work-Study is part-time employment. Students work part-time hours and receive a paycheck for the hours worked. However, it differs from regular part-time employment. If your employment is on campus, your supervisor is more likely to be understanding of the fact that you are a student first, where part-time employers not associated with JMU may not be as flexible. Some non-JMU part-time jobs are very flexible, but as a general rule of thumb, a JMU employer will be more understanding of your student responsibilities. Another benefit is that the amount of money you earn in a Work-Study job this year does not count as income when you file your FAFSA next year. This can help to lower your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) next year, and potentially make you eligible for additional grant funds that you may not have received if you worked in a non-Work-Study job this year.
If you are offered FWS, then you are eligible to apply for a Federal Work-Study funded job. It is not a guarantee of employment. For a listing of job opportunities and the details on how to apply for those jobs, please visit the student employment web site at www.jmu.edu/stuemploy/ and click on 'Job Announcements'.
FWS is a work program, and payment is received through our payroll process. The funds do not appear as a credit on your student account.
Federal Work Study is not guaranteed. The student has to apply for FWS positions in order to secure a job. Once they have secured a job the FWS award will appear as accepted on MyMadison.
Being eligible for FWS means that you have a larger pool of jobs to which you can apply. The student employment website offers information on current openings for Institutional Employment (on-campus, non-FWS employment), Federal Work Study (on- or off-campus FWS employment), as well as some non-FWS jobs. To increase chances of employment, FWS-eligible students should apply for every job they are interested in, regardless of employment types. For more information on current employment options, visit http://www.jmu.edu/stuemploy/JLD/JobAnnouncements.shtml.
If a dependent student declines FWS, parents may request an increase in their Parent PLUS Direct Loan. Typically, independent students will see no change in financial aid eligibility, but may contact a financial aid counselor for a revised eligibility assessment.
Eligibility for FWS is not a guarantee of job placement. FWS-eligible students are NOT limited to FWS employment – it just provides them with one more employment option. Students seeking employment should explore ALL options.
Verification of FWS eligibility must be provided with your application for a FWS job. You can log on to your MyMadison account and under Finances click 'View My Financial Aid'. Click on the appropriate Aid Year (e.g., “2014” for the 2013-14 academic year). Copy and paste your award information into a Word document, and save. This document can be sent electronically along with your application when applying for FWS jobs.
Many students/parents assume that their FWS award (typically $2,030) will show up on their university bill as a credit against charges. This is incorrect. The FWS award amount represents the maximum that a student can earn in a FWS job in the academic year. Once hired they will be required to submit their work hours each pay period and will receive a paycheck to compensate them for the hours worked. There is no connection between the university billing system and the payroll system. The funds earned through student employment are used for day-to-day expenses (rent, entertainment, etc.)
Eligibility for all federal financial aid programs can change from year to year. That’s why a year-specific FAFSA is required. Eligibility/non-eligibility can be the result of a change in any number of variables: number in college, parents’/students’ income, untaxed income, assets, etc. Many departments that hire FWS students also hire Institutional Employment (IE) students. If a student loses their FWS eligibility in a subsequent year, they may wish to talk to the department about hiring them as an IE student employee.
FWS is a need-based Title IV program with eligibility determined by the results of the FAFSA. IE is on campus, non-FWS employment. Pay rates for both FWS and IE student positions are determined by the responsibilities, knowledge, skills and abilities required for the job. If two students are doing the same job, but one is FWS and the other is IE, they should be receiving the same pay.
The types of off campus positions advertised through the Student Work Experience Center are as varied as childcare positions, legal assistants, production workers, web designers, sales specialists, front desk clerks, marketing interns, etc.
We do not publicize many restaurant and retail positions because these employers do not need to advertise and therefore, have many applications on hand or will use referrals from current employees.
A huge plus for students responding to local off campus job postings through the Student Work Experience Center is that they know these employers are targeting JMU students for their opportunities.
To search for student job opportunities, visit http://www.jmu.edu/stuemploy/JLD/JobAnnouncements.shtml for local off-campus positions and JobLink for on-campus opportunities at https://joblink.jmu.edu. Some on-campus employers rely on word-of-mouth instead of on-line advertising, students may also want to contact offices or departments directly.
If applying for an off-campus job listed at http://www.jmu.edu/stuemploy/JLD/JobAnnouncements.shtml, students will send their application directly to the point of contact listed on the job posting. When applying for jobs posted through JobLink at https://joblink.jmu.edu, you will create an electronic application that will be housed in the JobLink program. Instructions are given on how to attach your application to a specified job posting. Hiring supervisors view applications electronically.
The minimum wage for the state of Virginia is $7.25. This is also the federal minimum wage.
A student can have several on campus jobs, but between all of these positions, the student cannot exceed 20 hours per week. This policy is in place to reinforce “academic first” for student employees. For international students, it is a federal regulation and exceeding the 20-hour maximum could result in deportation.
Please go to www.jmu.edu/scholarships to view Frequently Asked Questions regarding scholarships.
A Federal Perkins Loan has a fixed interest rate of 5%. Repayment does not begin until nine months after you graduate, leave school or drop below half-time status. In contrast, interest on the Direct Loan repayment does not begin until six months after you leave school or drop below half-time status.
The interest rate for Direct Loans is set on an award year basis. The award year is July 1st – June 30th. The rate on all new loans is subject to change the following July 1st. All loans disbursed during this period carry that rate, which is fixed over the life of the loan. For example:
Each year you receive a Perkins Loan, you must complete a “Right and Responsibilities” statement and “Entrance Questionnaire.” Each form must have your original signature. Before we release your loan, the University Business Office will contact you to complete a promissory note. These funds are limited; therefore applying early will increase the probability of a Perkins Loan offer. For information, review the Perkins Loan fact sheet at the following URL: www.jmu.edu/finaid/aidprog.shtml.
All of the basic loan rules are the same, with two main exceptions. On a subsidized loan, interest does not accrue in the name of the student until six months after the student leaves school or drops below half-time status. On an unsubsidized loan, interest begins accruing in the name of the student once the loan is disbursed. Students have two choices regarding the interest accrual on an unsubsidized loan. The student can make interest only payments, or the interest can be added back into the loan (i.e. capitalized).
The interest rate for Direct Loans is set on an award year basis. The award year is July 1st – June 30th. The rate on all new loans is subject to change the following July 1st. All loans disbursed during this period carry that rate, which is fixed over the life of the loan. For example:
There is one caveat for the interest accrual on a subsidized loan. On December 23, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (Public Law 112-74) that temporarily eliminates the interest subsidy provided on Direct Subsidized Loans during the six month grace period provided to students when they are no longer enrolled on at least a half-time basis. This change will be effective for new subsidized loans for which the first disbursement is made on or after July 1, 2012, and before July 1, 2014.
You can go to the National Student Loan Data System website: http://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds_SA/ and view all of your federal loans, grants, and the lenders you used when you borrowed.
No, after you have completed all the information that our office requires, our loan team will request your funds when it is time to make a disbursement. It usually takes a few weeks for this process to be completed.
The student must follow the link after accepting their Direct Loan, which will prompt them to fill out all the required documentation (Master Promissory Note and possibly Entrance Loan Counseling,). Parents should not be accepting Direct Loans in MyMadison for their students.
You will need to go to the Financial Aid homepage (www.jmu.edu/finaid), click on “Parents and Guardians,” and following the instructions under the “Accept a Parent PLUS Direct Loan” link.
Once you accept your Direct Loan on MyMadison you can change the amount in the text box. However, for the Parent PLUS Direct Loan or Grad PLUS Direct Loan you would put the amount you want to borrow in the box when filling out the applicable Direct Loan (Parent or Grad) application. You cannot accept a Parent PLUS Direct Loan or Grad PLUS Direct Loan in MyMadison.
No, the Parent PLUS Direct Loan award notice will only be sent to the home address if a parent's email address is not on file. The notice is sent to the parent's email email address as noted on the FAFSA after the student has been awarded. The Parent PLUS Direct Loan award can be viewed on the student’s MyMadison as well, but it cannot be accepted through MyMadison. If the Parent PLUS Direct Loan award notice has not been received within two weeks of being awarded on MyMadison, please contact our office. Instructions for accepting this loan will be contained on the award notice.
There are several differences between these loans, but the biggest one is that only a student can borrow a Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized Direct Loan, a graduate student can borrow a Grad PLUS Direct Loan, and only a parent can borrow a Parent PLUS Direct Loan.
Another difference is the interest rates for the various loans. The interest rate for Direct Loans is set on an award year basis. The award year is July 1st – June 30th. The rate on all new loans is subject to change the following July 1st. All loans disbursed during this period carry that rate, which is fixed over the life of the loan. For example:
Subsidized and unsubsidized Direct Loans are not based on credit while the PLUS Direct Loan is credit based, so it is possible for a parent to be denied a Parent PLUS Direct Loan or a graduate student be denied a Grad PLUS based on his or her credit history
Students are not required to make any payments on their Direct Loan until six months after they stop attending school on at least a half-time basis (and after other qualified periods of deferment). Parents can also request this delay in making Parent PLUS Direct Loan payments. If the request is not made, payments will begin 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed. It should be noted that if parents request a postponement of payments, interest will continue to accrue on the Parent PLUS Direct Loan while payments are not being made.
MyMadison is the student’s account and only the parent can accept the Parent PLUS Direct Loan.
In some cases, students whose parents are denied a Parent PLUS Direct Loan can apply for Additional Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan funds. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships to discuss this in more detail.
Either biological parent can apply for a Parent PLUS Direct Loan for a dependent student. Stepparents who are listed on the FAFSA can also apply for a Parent PLUS Direct Loan for a dependent student.
Graduate students are eligible to borrow under the Federal PLUS Direct Loan Program. This loan is called the Grad PLUS Direct Loan. Terms and conditions applicable to this loan include the following:
Grad PLUS Direct Loan borrowers may borrow up to the Cost of Attendance (COA) for the period of enrollment, minus other estimated financial assistance.
All students applying for a Grad PLUS Direct Loan at JMU need to complete the following documents.
Subsidized Direct Loan, Unsubsidized Direct Loan, Parent PLUS Direct Loan, and Grad PLUS Direct Loan funds are sent directly to JMU, not the student, by the federal government. Perkins Loan disbursements are not made by a lending institution or the government like the before mentioned loans. Funds for this loan are disbursed from a JMU account to the University Business Office. Please see the Financial Aid, Disbursements, Your Bill, and Refunds section of the JMU Terms and Conditions for Financial Aid-Consumer Information document under the “Forms” link at www.jmu.edu/finaid for more detailed information.
Students applying for a Direct Loan for the first time at JMU need to do the following.
Students who had a prior Direct Loan at JMU need to do the following:
All parents applying for a Parent PLUS Direct Loan need to complete the following documents.
School has started and I just completed my Entrance Counseling today. All my other paperwork has been submitted and all my other eligibility issues have been resolved. When will I get my money?
It will take approximately 2-4 weeks to receive this money.