Tuition held steady as JMU Plans to Reopen for the Fall


The following communication was sent to the JMU community on May 15, 2020.

To the JMU Family:

First and foremost, I hope this message finds you and your loved ones well. This pandemic has radically altered all of our lives and reminded us that our human connections and relationships are so vitally important. In this way, the disruption also has reinforced the value and importance of the JMU learning experience, which is centered around relationships.

Quite a lot is happening on campus and I want to update you on the following:

  • Board of Visitors Votes to Freeze Tuition;
  • Plans to Resume On-Campus, In-Person Learning for the Fall 2020 Semester;
  • Deposits by Incoming First-Year Class Strongest in Years.

Today, the JMU Board of Visitors, the university’s governing body, voted not to increase tuition for any student for the 2020-21 academic year (including all undergraduates, graduate students, and in-state and out-of-state students). We recognize that many students and families are facing financial hardship because of the COVID-19 crisis. Since the beginning of the pandemic, our main goal has been to continue to fulfill our educational mission and keep students on a path of academic progress. Today’s decision by the board is yet another way we will continue to support students in that endeavor and help ensure access to learning.

In addition to freezing tuition, the university is distributing more than $6 million CARES Act money to assist eligible students who have incurred expenses related to COVID-19. Students can learn more at the JMU Cares Act Student Emergency Aid website. The university also has received nearly $600,000 in donations in recent weeks for Madison for Keeps, a program that supports students facing financial hardship and who may be at risk of having to leave the university due to financial circumstances.

JMU plans to resume its on-campus, in-person learning and residential operations for the fall of 2020. We continue to be committed to this resumption of on-campus operations so long as it is safe to do so, in accordance with guidance from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Our planning efforts are underway to ensure that upon students’ return to JMU, the university is prepared to be as proactive as possible in protecting our community’s health. A Contingency Planning Task Force, including leadership from the University Health Center as well as representation from across all divisions, is working to address questions about what living, learning and dining arrangements on campus will look like in the fall, based on:

  • Recent guidance from the American College Health Association (ACHA) and other public health experts on best practices for reopening university campuses;
  • JMU’s capacity to put these best practices in place before the fall semester;
  • Analysis of more than 15,000 responses to surveys sent to JMU parents, students, faculty and staff. If you have not yet responded, please click here for students and parents, or here for faculty and staff to respond.

Dr. Andy Guertler, Medical Director at JMU’s University Health Center, is on the Contingency Planning Task Force and is providing insightful leadership for how campus operations will need to change to accommodate ACHA guidance. You will hear directly from Dr. Guertler in the coming weeks and months in preparation for resuming campus operations for the Fall 2020 semester. We will of course continue to monitor the evolving public health situation carefully and will share more information as we have it.

Based on the high number of tuition deposits by the incoming first-year Class of 2024, the university anticipates welcoming to campus one of the strongest and most vibrant classes ever in August. Summer enrollment based on credit hour production is up 25 percent over last year, too.

Of course, while these points represent significant rays of hope in the midst of this pandemic, we also recognize that many questions remain. Balancing the university’s budget, while holding the line on tuition and without knowing the Commonwealth of Virginia’s budget, will be a difficult challenge. Estimates put finding a COVID-19 vaccine another year or more away, and health experts warn of a potential resurgence. Consequently, we all know that this fall will not look like any previous fall this campus has ever seen: we expect continued physical distancing, wearing of masks, and copious attention to personal and public hygiene to become the new normal on campus. But we can and must get through this together. It will take all of us. And we can do it.

The closing line in the James Madison University Alma Mater provides me with inspiration and confidence as we persevere into the summer: “To conquer each new day” is how I truly believe we must approach the next academic year.

Stay well and take care of yourselves, and each other. 

Jonathan R. Alger
President, James Madison University

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Published: Friday, May 15, 2020

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2023

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