1. Credit card debt, car payments, mortgage payments, existing student (or parent) loan debt, or any other forms of consumer debt.  These cannot be considered in an appeal to potentially increase a student’s financial aid package.

  2. Your income situation will be relatively the same as it was when you filed the FAFSA, but unfortunately JMU is still out of financial reach.

  3. You would like JMU to match a financial aid offer from another school.  We do not match financial aid dollars, as we award students their maximum eligibility based on the FAFSA and our available funding.

  1. Your current or anticipated income is significantly less than your income used on the FAFSA.  If this is the case, you may contact us according to the timeframe outlined below so we can review your situation.  If we deem it warrants additional consideration, then we may initiate a Professional Judgment review to replace the income on your FAFSA with your current income.  We may require you to file your current year's Federal Income Taxes before we can start on the official review.

  2. The student is in the current school year and he/she, or his/her supporting family, experienced a sudden and unexpected financial hardship (e.g., job loss, etc.).  You may contact us at any time during the school year (while you are enrolled) to discuss the situation.  If we deem an appeal is appropriate, we will inform you of the documentation we need to proceed.

  3. Child support ends when the student graduates from high school or begins college.

  4. The income used on the FAFSA was inflated by a one-time addition to your taxes, such as an IRA rollover that will not be repeated.

  5. You have large out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by insurance.  While this is not a hard rule, we generally look to see if the expenses were large enough for you to claim them on your taxes when deciding whether to consider these costs.

  6. A reduction of income due to a job loss as a result of COVID-19. Please reach out so we can review your situation to determine if we are able to provide additional assistance.
  1. Dependency overrides in situations where the student is being abused or his/her parents are incarcerated.  It should be noted we are prohibited from granting an override based solely on a student being self-supporting.  Additionally, parents not claiming a student on their taxes and/or refusing to complete the FAFSA does not provide a basis for approving an override.

  2. The JMU student has a child for whom he/she provides more than 50% of the support, and part of that support is paying for childcare expenses while he/she is in school at JMU.

If you feel there are other unusual or unexpected circumstances you would like for us to review, please feel free to reach out to our office.

The appeal process begins with the student and/or parent(s) writing a letter to our office explaining the circumstances for which an appeal is desired. A letter can be emailed to finaid_pj@jmu.edu or mailed to:

Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships
Professional Judgement Committee
MSC 3519
738 South Mason St.
Harrisonburg, VA 22807

Please review earlier sections of this website for what are generally considered acceptable appeal situations.

Our office will respond to the individual submitting an appeal with one of three decisions:

  • More Information Is Needed – If we deem the situation is valid for consideration, but there was not enough documentation submitted with the appeal letter to make a final decision, we will request specific information be sent to us so we can continue with the review process.
  • Approval – The appeal is approved. Generally, this will not be the first response as we usually need to collect documentation and additional information to complete the review.
  • Denial – The appeal does not qualify for consideration.

We cannot review appeals until we have loaded a student’s FAFSA. Therefore, it is important to file your FAFSA as soon as possible. Remember to meet the FAFSA Priority Filing Date. You can find information about the filing date on our homepage.

Appeals Before Start of the Next School Year:

  • Continuing JMU students - We will generally begin loading your FAFSA’s before the next school year, which means you can submit an appeal any time after that point.
  • First-time JMU students - We will load new student FAFSA's once they are admitted to JMU. Therefore, new students should not submit an appeal until after they receive notice from the Undergraduate Admissions Office that they have been admitted to JMU. Appeals submitted earlier than this cannot be reviewed as we will not have loaded FAFSA information yet.

Appeals During the Current School Year:

  • Students may submit appeals after JMU has received their current year FAFSA. Appeals submitted before that time will not be reviewed, as a FAFSA is needed to complete a review of the appeal.

Thanks to generous JMU donors, the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships is awarding Madison for Keeps emergency student aid to assist our current Dukes in this extraordinary time of financial need.

There is no specific Madison for Keeps application. Instead, Madison for Keeps is one of the options at our disposal when trying to find the best way to help students remain at JMU while they recover from financial crisis.

To become eligible for consideration for emergency aid, students (or their parents) begin the process by submitting an appeal to the Professional Judgment Committee in the Office of Financial Aid. Students who are finding it difficult to pay for the school year due to a household income change should review the Financial Aid Appeals (Professional Judgment) section of the financial aid website to learn how to submit an appeal.

When reviewing these appeals, the financial aid staff will first try to establish or increase eligibility for assistance from various existing financial aid programs. If successful and if this increased financial aid eligibility meets the needs of students, the financial aid office will make these awards without using Madison for Keeps funds in these situations.
If we are unable to help these students from these other programs in response to an appeal, then JMU has the option to consider assistance from Madison for Keeps.
As good stewards of the donations received in the Madison for Keeps program, the Financial Aid Office staff is judicious in how the funds are awarded and generally reviews situations from the following perspective when making decisions.

Students must:
1. Be enrolled in a full-time load of financial-aid-eligible credits for the term in which they are receiving these funds.
2. Be a returning student (not a first-time freshman or transfer). The program is designed to give priority to students who are returning to JMU ("Help a Duke stay a Duke").
3. Have submitted a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the term in which they are receiving these funds.
4. Be experiencing financial hardship due to the recent economic crisis (e.g., parental job loss, household income reduction, etc.) that might affect their ability to continue at JMU during the current school year and that should resolve itself by the following school year.
5. Meet the academic progression standards outlined in the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.
6. Have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.25.
7. Complete the required steps to accept all subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans they are eligible to receive prior to a Madison for Keeps grant being disbursed. These grants are "last dollar" awards, and not designed to replace a student's loan eligibility.

Because these are "last dollar" awards, the process of considering students for Madison for Keeps does not begin until after students receive their official financial aid award notices, including loans, for the school year. It is necessary to review each student's eligibility for other sources of financial aid (grants, loans, etc.) before considering a Madison for Keeps award.
It's also important to note that Madison for Keeps provides one-time, non-renewable awards. When making award decisions for Madison for Keeps, the staff reviews each student's potential ability to continue as a JMU student the year after an appeal is filed.

If you feel you have a situation that warrants review, then please follow the steps outlined in the Financial Aid Appeals (Professional Judgment) section of the website, and staff members will respond after reviewing your appeal.

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