JMU Board of Visitors to consider 2020-21 tuition and fees

University to hold virtual public comment meeting on tuition on April 28

by Caitlyn Read


The James Madison Board of Visitors will consider tuition and mandatory fees for the 2020-21 academic year at a meeting on Friday, May 15, 2020.

The 2020-2022 biennial budget passed by the Virginia General Assembly in March allocated significant state funding to higher education, and would have allowed the university to freeze tuition for in-state students for a second year in a row. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created economic instability, requiring lawmakers to reassess state resource allocations, a process that could take several months. The ranges provided for tuition and fee increases offer board members as much flexibility as possible given the uncertainty of state budget conditions.

In 2017, The JMU Board of Visitors approved the Madison Pledge, a two-phase tuition increase model that strengthens the Madison experience, offers in-state students and their families tuition predictability and increases JMU’s ability to offer financial aid. The model increased tuition $1,000 for the 2018-19 incoming class, with the assurance that, so long as state funding for the university does not dramatically decrease, in-state students would not experience a tuition increase of more than 3 percent during each of the next three years.

The same increase and assurance were slated for the 2019-2020 incoming class, but the Board of Visitors deferred implementation due to an influx of financial support from the Commonwealth of Virginia, allowing the university to freeze in-state tuition at 2018-19 levels. At present, for the current 2019-20 academic year, JMU’s in-state tuition and E&G mandatory fees rank eleventh out of fifteen four-year institutions in Virginia.  

For in-state students, members of the Board of Visitors will reconsider implementing the second phase of the Madison Pledge. The tuition increase range that will be considered is $0 to $1,000 for the 2020-21 incoming class. Additionally, for returning undergraduate students who are Virginia residents, the board will consider a tuition increase between $0 and $362 for sophomores and juniors, and $0 to $330 for seniors. For undergraduate students who are not Virginia residents, the board will consider a tuition increase of $500 for all classes. These proposed increases are for the entire academic year, not per semester.

Tuition reflects the cost of maintaining the high-quality education that the JMU community has come to expect. Key factors include maintaining the university’s low student-to-faculty ratio, realizing initiatives in JMU’s strategic plan related to academics and student access, increased operational costs for new facilities, state benefit cost increases, and inflationary contractual costs. JMU continues to be an outstanding value, and despite being the lowest funded institution in the Commonwealth on a per in-state student basis, JMU’s total cost of attendance is one of the least expensive among the 15 public, four-year institutions in Virginia.

The Board of Visitors will also set the comprehensive fee for students at their May meeting. The board will consider an increase of between $124 and $198 for all undergraduate students. The cost factors driving the proposed increase include operating costs and contractual obligations, new facilities and student services.

The Board of Visitors will hold a virtual public comment meeting on tuition and fees on April 28 at 4 p.m. The public meeting will begin with an overview of tuition and fees and the cost factors associated with setting these rates each year. Students will then have an opportunity to share their comments or concerns with members of the Board of Visitors. Individuals can also submit questions and comments online ahead of the meeting.

To participate at the public comment meeting: Use this link, or dial +1-415-655-0003 (US TOLL) or +1-855-282-6330 (US TOLL FREE) and use event number: 617 561 859. 

This notice is in accordance with section §23.1-307 D. of the Code of Virginia, and serves to notify students and the public of the JMU Board of Visitors’ upcoming consideration of tuition and mandatory fees, and opportunity for public comment. The ranges provided for tuition and fee increases are based on the maximum the university would charge, and are subject to change depending on the actions of the Virginia General Assembly and the Governor of Virginia on the 2020-22 biennial budget. The format of the board meeting on May 15, currently slated to be in-person with an option to view online, is also subject to change based on guidance from the Virginia General Assembly following the reconvened session on April 22.

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Published: Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 2, 2021

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