Brad Barnett discusses the details of JMU Financial Aid.

Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions


General Financial Aid and Verification

Grants

Loans

Scholarships

Student Employment



General Financial Aid and Verification

Where can I find general information about financial aid?

We recommend reviewing information contained in the JMU Terms and Conditions for Financial Aid – Consumer Information document at www.jmu.edu/financialaid/terms-and-conditions.shtml, as well other information on our website. We keep the announcements section of our main website at www.jmu.edu/financialaid updated with key information applicable to the current time of the year.

I turned in my 2020-21 FAFSA, why don’t I have a Preliminary Financial Aid Award Notice?

The most common reason we’re seeing to answer this question is when students do not include their Social Security Number on their admissions application. If that happens, then we will be unable to receive their FAFSA information from the Department of Education. As a result, we cannot create a financial aid package and Preliminary Financial Aid Award Notice. If this is your situation, then please contact the JMU Undergraduate Admissions office at admissions@jmu.edu or (540) 568-5681 to update your application with your Social Security Number.

Other common reasons a student may not have a Preliminary Financial Aid Award Notice include leaving JMU off the FAFSA as a school to receive the application information, and being on the Admissions waitlist. Also, it’s important to note that we do not mail these notices. Instead, we post them to your Applicant Center in MyMadison, which is the same place you went to learn you were admitted to JMU. With that said, we do e-mail you once the notice is available.

If none of these situations apply to you, then you may want to contact our office at fin_aid@jmu.edu or (540) 568-7820 so we can help determine why you may not have received a Preliminary Financial Aid Award Notice.

How do I know if I was awarded a scholarship if it is not on my Preliminary Financial Aid Award Notice?

All scholarships we are aware at the time we generate the Preliminary Financial Aid Award Notice are included on that notice. Academic departments on campus make the majority of the scholarship offers to first year students, and inform our office of their selections once they do. With that said, the department making the offer will also send the students they are selecting a notice about the scholarship offer.

Can we drop off our financial aid documentation at the Financial Aid Office?

Due to the COVID-19 situation, after March 27 our front counters will be closed to visitors, so parents and students will need to fax (540) 568-7994 or mail their documentation to us. Please make sure that documents submitted are signed, especially any tax returns submitted, and include the student’s JMU ID. Our mailing address is:

James Madison University
Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships
Student Success Center
738 S. Mason Street, MSC 3519
Harrisonburg, VA 22807

Grants

How do I apply for grants at JMU?

In order to apply for any grants at JMU, you need to file your 2020-21 Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the only application JMU uses in order to determine grant eligibility. JMU’s priority filing date to submit the FAFSA is March 1. Students can submit the FAFSA after this date, but funds could be limited when the priority filing date is missed.

I am a Virginia resident who filed my FAFSA but was not offered any grants. Why not?

The results of your FAFSA were used to determine your grant eligibility. If you did not receive a grant offer, then that means you did not qualify based on the awarding criteria used at JMU, or that you filed your FAFSA after the March 1 priority filing date.

Virginia Tech gave me a larger VGAP award than JMU. Can you match it?

Every public school in Virginia receives an allocation of state grant money, which includes VGAP. The allocation received by each school is not the same size, so you will see different award amounts from the various institutions. Outside of ensuring the students we offer these awards to meet some basic criteria mandated by Virginia, schools have flexibility in determining the amounts awarded to students at their institution.

We are unable to match any awards from other schools. With that said, we encourage you to look at the net cost of the schools when comparing offers. Net costs can be defined as your direct billable costs (e.g., tuition/fees and room/board) minus any free money you’re being offered (e.g., grants and scholarships). It’s possible that even though another school is offering you a slightly larger grant than what you’re seeing from us, JMU might still be less expensive after looking at net costs.

What grants are available to out-of-state students at JMU?

As a public institution we are prohibited from using state grant dollars for out-of-state students. Therefore, the only grants available for out-of-state students are the Federal Pell Grant, and in some situations the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. The only application you need to file to be reviewed for these grants is the 2020-21 Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Loans

What is the difference between federal student loans and private educational loans?

Federal education loans are federally backed loans provided by the government for your student’s education. These consist of the Federal Subsidized Direct Loan, Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan, and Federal Parent PLUS Direct Loan. To qualify for federal education loans, you must submit a FAFSA. Private loans are non-federal educational loans offered by private lenders (i.e. banks, credit unions) to assist with educational expenses. Private loans can help fill the gap between need-based financial aid and your total educational costs. Because the federal government does not back them, private loans may have terms and conditions less favorable than federally funded student and parent loans; take advantage of all your federal student aid opportunities before considering a private loan.

You can learn more about loan programs on our website at https://www.jmu.edu/financialaid/learn/index.shtml, or by watching the brief loan videos at https://www.jmu.edu/financialaid/learn/videos/financial-aid.shtml.

When can I apply for a private educational loan?

Do not apply for a Fall 2020/Spring 2021 private educational loan earlier than June 2020. If you submit an application prior to June 2020, your credit may expire before the loan can disburse. 

We suggest you review the private educational loan information at https://www.jmu.edu/financialaid/apply/aid-options/private-alternative-loan.shtml before submitting an application with a lender.

How do I apply for a private educational loan?

JMU has compiled a list of preferred lenders for our student and parent borrowers to assist in the navigation and research of potential lenders. The preferred lender list and other guidance is found on our website: https://www.jmu.edu/financialaid/apply/aid-options/private-alternative-loan.shtml.

We strongly encourage students to consider the Federal Direct Loan Program before applying for a private educational loan.

When should I apply for a Federal Direct Loan?

Once you have been offered your Federal Subsidized Direct Loan and Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan eligibility via your financial aid award notice, the loans may be accepted through the your MyMadison account. If this is your first time borrowing, you will also need to submit a Subsidized/Unsubsidized Master Promissory Note as well as complete Entrance Loan Counseling via studentaid.gov. Parent PLUS Loan applications and Master Promissory Notes must be submitted by the parent borrower via studentaid.gov.

All of these steps will be outlined in your financial aid award notice.

How will I receive my loan money?

All loans, except for a few private lenders, disburse loans directly to JMU. Once received, these funds are applied directly to your JMU bill to be applied to those charges first. Any funds in excess of the bill are then refunded to the loan borrower by the University Business Office.

Scholarships

Can I still apply for scholarships for my first year at JMU?

All deadlines have passed to apply for freshman (and new transfer) merit-based scholarships. In some cases, your application for admission served as your scholarship application, with no other action required.

When are scholarships awarded?

Generally, decisions are made and students notified of their selection in the February to mid-April time frame, depending on the scholarship program. You can learn more about JMU scholarships on our website at https://www.jmu.edu/scholarships.

How will I be notified if selected to receive a JMU scholarship?

JMU scholarship notifications typically come from individual university departments. The method of communication may vary. However, email is probably the most common method to ensure your earliest awareness.

How do I qualify for need-based scholarships?

To be eligible for need-based scholarships at JMU, you must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The federal government uses this form to calculate an Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is a measure of your family’s financial strength. The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships subtracts your EFC from your cost of attendance (COA), which reflects the total amount it will cost you to go to college each year. The difference is your financial need. If you have any amount of financial need, you may qualify for need-based scholarships.

How do I qualify for merit-based scholarships?

Selection criteria vary by scholarship and awarding department. However, the primary determinant for merit-based awards is exceptional academic performance. Other selection criteria may include leadership, involvement, geographical background, major field of study, and career goals.

What are some tips for seeking scholarships within my community?

A large percentage of outside scholarships come from churches, high schools, and organizations such as the Elks and Moose lodges. Also, large companies in your area or your parents' employers may be good resources. In some instances, you may not have to be directly associated with an organization to qualify for a scholarship. You can find some commonly used national search engines on our scholarships website at https://www.jmu.edu/scholarships/outsideschol.shtml.

What effect will outside scholarships have on my financial aid package?

Receipt of scholarship funds from any source may reduce your eligibility for need-based state and federal financial aid. JMU is required to include your private (or outside) scholarship when preparing your financial aid package. Therefore, you should submit a Supplemental Information Sheet at https://fs1.formsite.com/jmufinaid/jmusupplemental/secure_index.html to the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships as soon as you are aware of your selection to receive one.

Can I apply for scholarships in future years?

The answer is yes. However, the scholarships available will differ from those awarded to incoming freshmen and new transfer students. Your primary application tool will be Madison Scholarships Hub, our scholarships management system. You can access Madison Scholarships Hub from your MyMadison account. Typically, the application in Madison Scholarships Hub opens in December-January for the following academic year (be sure to visit the website for specific dates). You would need to complete a new application for each academic year in order to be considered for scholarships. You can view scholarships for current students on our website at https://www.jmu.edu/scholarships/current-students.shtml.

Student Employment

How do a I find a job on campus?

On-campus jobs through the Work Study and Institutional Employment programs can be found through JobLink. Students looking for jobs should check this website frequently, as job postings can change frequently.

If I have Work Study, does that guarantee me a job?

Having Work Study eligibility does not guarantee a student a job. Instead, having a Work Study offer gives you the ability to apply for Work Study jobs through JobLink.

If I have Work Study, does that apply to my bill? How do I get the money?

Work Study wages are not credited to your student account. Instead, Work Study wages will be paid to you via direct deposit through JMU Payroll Services, and are based on the number of hours you work in that pay period. You are limited to earning no more in total Work Study wages during the school year than what you see on your Financial Aid Award Notice.

Can I work a job other than Work Study?

Yes, as a student carrying at least a half-time course load (6 credit hours) at JMU, you are eligible to work as an Institutional Employment student employee. While you are not required or limited to only Work Study jobs, we encourage Work Study-eligible students to look at Work Study positions before applying for Institutional Employment positions due the benefits of being employed through Work Study.

What is the benefit of working in a Work Study position?

Wages earned through a Work Study position are not counted as income when you file your FAFSA for the next school year. While they are taxable if you file income taxes, the FAFSA removes them so they do not count against your next year’s financial aid eligibility. That means you can earn wages this year that will not reduce your aid next year.

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