Madison Family Newsletter: December 2023

Madison Family Newsletter: December 2023

Brought to you by the JMU Office of Family Engagement


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The Madison Family Newsletter is created each month by the Office of Family Engagement in partnership with many members of the JMU community. For more family resources, visit our website.

A Letter from Dr. Tim Miller

Hello JMU families, 

The end of the semester is upon us, and I’m sure many of you are counting the days until your Duke is home! I hope you get a chance to spend some quality time together over break. Remember that many of them will come home and sleep for a long time, and then they will leave to catch up with friends, and then ask you where the food, etc. is in the house. They may not always say it, but they are happy to be home and back with you and the rest of the family. 

Reflecting on the past three months, I realize how fortunate I am to get to interact with so many amazing students and their families. Thank you all for your partnership and support during your Duke’s journey at JMU. 


While we love the excitement of our everyday lives, we also enjoy Winter Break! Campus will be closed Dec. 19 – Jan. 1, so our employees can have a well-deserved break. I wanted to share this with you in case you’re trying to reach someone during that time. 

For students living on campus, residence halls close Saturday, Dec. 16 at 10 a.m. They will receive instructions about what to do, but I’ll add an extra reminder to empty out their refrigerators and take out the trash. They’ll appreciate it in January when they return. It’s incredibly important that they take these steps before they leave so they don’t inadvertently create a science experiment in the fridge over break.  

Please remind your student to lock their doors and windows and to take anything valuable home with them. Empty apartment complexes can sometimes be easy targets over break. They also don’t want to end up with burst pipes or other issues because they left a window open. Also, they should follow any specific instructions provided such as what settings to leave the heat on, getting rid of trash, etc. 


For students who may be looking for a quiet space for a phone call, Zoom call, interview or to study, there are many options around campus. This private spaces page lists many of the options available. 

Last year, in addition to the Counseling Center’s services, we began providing our students with free access to virtual mental health services through TimelyCare. These services are available even over break so please share this information with your student and any other JMU students you know. It’s not always obvious when someone needs help, so we want to be sure everyone knows about this important resource for them. 

Questions to ask your student 

After they wake up and are back home from visiting friends, here are a couple questions to get you started: 

What do you need for winter weather when you go back to school? 

Tip: Even though we’re further south than some of you, we do get cold weather and snow, so gloves and boots are highly recommended. For students with a car, a snow shovel and ice scraper will very likely be needed here next semester. 

How do you feel about last semester and what do you want to do differently in the spring? 

Tip: This is a chance to discuss their final grades, celebrate their successes and address any challenges they faced (personally and academically). Referring them to the Student Gateway is always a great place to start. You can also make your plan to have regular check-ins next semester.  

Some upcoming events 

If your student needs to take a break from studying, here are some suggestions: 

Dec. 7 | 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. (1 p.m. on 12/8) | De-Stress Fest 

Dec. 7 | 8 – 10 p.m. | Operation Seasons Cheer

Dec. 8 | 7 – 9 p.m. | Funny Freakin’ Friday 

Dec. 13 | 1 – 4 p.m. | Warm a Winter Wish 

Find other events on the JMU events calendar  

Academic Challenges 

I hope this doesn’t happen, but some students will receive an email over break that they are on academic probation or suspension. This can be really challenging as it is usually a surprise for families. They should be checking email regularly over break anyway, and you can get ahead of this situation by looking at Canvas and MyMadison with them once grades come out on Dec. 18 after 3 p.m.  

You should be able to get a good understanding of their situation by visiting the academic standing page, which explains everything you need to know about academic probation and suspension as well as the steps to take if your student receives one or the other. I know you will have lots of questions but please read the entire email they received and this website before reaching out, most questions are answered in those two resources. Please also remember that we are closed until Jan. 2, when people will be able to return calls and emails.  

We will be hosting a Rebound class in the spring semester for students on academic probation to help them recover from this and get back on track. Students can sign up for Rebound this spring.  

I hope your Duke has had a great JMU experience this year. For those of you with seniors, you’re probably wondering where the time went. Encourage them to enjoy every moment because it’s the little things that we often remember. 

Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season! 

Dr. Tim Miller 

Vice President for Student Affairs

2024-25 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

Submitted by: Jessica Hopkins, Assistant Director of Compliance, Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is normally available on October 1st; however, the 2024-25 FAFSA will not be available until December 31, 2023 at www.studentaid.gov.

To ensure you receive priority consideration for all types of financial assistance, the federal government must receive your 2024-25 FAFSA by March 1, 2024. This is JMU’s priority filing date. In some cases, filing later can reduce your chances of receiving certain types of financial aid, including state grants.

Please note that meeting the priority filing date does not guarantee that you will receive university or state grant dollars. The number of eligible students and the size of our annual funding allocations are significant factors in determining whether sufficient funds are available to award all those who qualify.

Submitting a FAFSA comes with no strings attached. The application is free and available online at www.studentaid.gov.

More information about the FAFSA, including videos, can be found on our website.

Learn More

Financial Aid Disbursements and Starting Classes

Submitted by: Brad BarnettAssociate Vice President of Access & Enrollment Management/Financial Aid Director, Financial Aid & Scholarships, 

Spring Financial Aid Disbursements:
Financial aid disbursements generally occur during the first week of each semester if all paperwork has been submitted in a timely fashion and the student is registered for the amount of hours used to determine financial aid eligibility. If you want to learn more about the disbursement process, timeframe, and financial aid refunds, you can read Section 13: Financial Aid, Disbursements, Your Bill, and Refunds of the Financial Aid: Terms and Conditions – Consumer Information document on our website.

Beginning Enrollment:
It’s important to note that students must begin attendance in the classes for which they receive financial aid. Reading the “Beginning Enrollment” portion of Section 12: Class Attendance and Retaining Aid Eligibility (Attendance Verification): Terms and Conditions – Consumer Information document will explain what constitutes “attendance” for the purposes of meeting this eligibility criterion. Students who do not begin attendance in classes for which financial aid is awarded may be subject to a reduction or cancellation to their financial aid package.

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1098Ts are Based on Payment Timing

Submitted by: Brandon Cline-Taskey, Director, University Business Office

As the end of the year rapidly approaches, the University Business Office (UBO) wants to provide some important information regarding the 1098-T form, a tax document often used when claiming education-related tax benefits. The form only reflects payments received for qualified expenses (e.g. tuition and the comprehensive fee) during the current calendar year.

Please be mindful that the values on this form are affected by payment posting dates. Consequently, the timing of your payments may impact the figures on the form, potentially influencing your eligibility for certain tax benefits. The UBO plans to create billing statements for the Spring 2024 semester in early December, so please keep this in mind as you prepare to send payment.

It is advisable to consult a tax professional for guidance on maximizing the available benefits based on your individual circumstances. The University Business Office cannot provide tax advice, but we would be glad to discuss the 1098-T form in greater detail should you have any questions.

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Men's and Women's Basketball in Full Swing!


Submitted by: Melissa Wyant, Assistant AD for Creative Services & Fan Engagement, Athletics

The men's and women's basketball Dukes have been heating up the Atlantic Union Bank Center this fall! Don't miss out on any of the action as winter approaches. Single game tickets for all games are on-sale now!

Planning to be in town a few times? Take advantage of a conference pack ticket deal for Sun Belt Conference games. You can purchase tickets through JMUTickets.com or by calling 540-568-3853.

Learn More

Spring Meal Plans

Submitted by: Jenna (Maroney) Gray, Director of Student Engagement, JMU Dining

Is your Duke prepared for Spring 2024 with our flexible meal plan options? We have a couple of tips and reminders to help them find their fit.

Students with fall meal plans will automatically be enrolled for the spring.

Need to make changes? No problem! Here’s how:


  • Email cardsrvc@jmu.edu with requests thru 12/15 
  • After billing goes out on 12/6, change fees apply 
  • After 12/15, changes can only be made by using the online form 1/22-2/2
  • For questions, contact Card Services at 540-568-1749


NEW MEAL PLAN HOLDERS For those not currently on a plan, we have one that fits every lifestyle. After all, you deserve the "Best Campus Food," ranked by Princeton Review. A meal plan provides it -- with value built in. To review options, or get help choosing a plan, visit jmu.campusdish.com.

To purchase a plan, we make it easy. Here’s how:

  1. Sign up online with JMU Dining
  2. Contact JMU Card Services:
  • In person, at the Student Success Center, 2nd Floor
  • Call 540-568-6446
  • Fax online applications to 540-568-1749
  • Email cardsrvc@jmu.edu from your @dukes account
At JMU Dining, we make meal plans easy! 


Learn More

Student Employment

Submitted by: Klaudia Whipple, Student Employment Assistant, Student Employment/Financial Aid & Scholarships

JMU JobLink is the best place for your student to find the most-up to-date information about job openings at JMU. Each posting identifies the hiring department and provides a detailed description of job responsibilities, qualifications, hourly rate or pay range and a list of additional documents (i.e., cover letter, resume, etc.) students will need to attach to their application. The Student Employment office recommends that students searching for an on-campus positons apply for as many jobs as they are interested in and feel qualified to fill. All on-campus positions are competitive so make sure your student has a quality resume, cover letter and references before beginning the application process.

It’s easy to apply! Once your student has identified the position(s) of interest, they must create a profile and complete the Student Application. These are saved for future use and can be edited at any time. Students must submit this application each time they apply for a student employment position at JMU. Selected applicants will complete an interview process with the department. Make sure your student knows how to “dress to impress” with appropriate interview attire and is prepared to make a good impression. The most-qualified candidate will be offered the position by the department.

If your student accepts a job offer, the hiring department will need to complete paperwork to meet institutional, state and federal guidelines and ensure prompt payment of wages. Students must provide their hiring department with a copy of their Social Security card and, for direct deposit purposes, a voided check, deposit slip or a bank statement showing the full account and routing numbers.

In addition, federal regulations require JMU to confirm all new employees are eligible to work in the United States through completion of Form I-9. Your student will complete Section 1 of this form with the hiring department or on their own electronically. Section 2 will be completed either with the hiring department or with the Student Employment office. To complete Section 2 of the Form I9, your student must provide documentation that both verifies identity and work authorization. You can see a full list of acceptable documents on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. All documents used to complete Section 2 must be original and unexpired. The hiring department or Student Employment must examine the documents your student presents and record the information electronically on Form I-9.

Your student is now on their way to gaining priceless experience and a good, old-fashioned pay check!

For Student Employment questions or concerns send an email to studentjobs@jmu.edu or call (540) 568-3269.

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Looking for a Unique, Lasting, and Meaningful Holiday Gift?


Submitted by: Kate Burke, Director of Internal Development, Athletics, Duke Club

If you're looking for a special way to celebrate a JMU student, grad, alum, or fan — look no further!

JMU Athletics and the Duke Club are proud to continue the Duke Dog Paver tradition — a legacy brick campaign that offers the JMU community the opportunity to personalize and memorialize the people, places, and experiences most important to them with a custom engraved brick on campus.

A limited number of available bricks remain at the exclusive Duke Dog statue location in front of Bridgeforth Stadium. Purchase today to take advantage of this special opportunity while supplies last! Orders must be placed by February 15 for spring install.

Learn more about the Duke Dog Paver Program and get your personalized brick ordered today at JMUDukeClub.com/legacy.

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Warm a Winter Wish

Submitted by: Anaelle Sure, Assistant Director for Communication and Engagement, University Recreation (UREC)

Each year, UREC partners with local agencies (First Step, Mercy House and Brain Injury Connections of the Shenandoah Valley) to help wishes come true for families in need within our local community. If you're interested in giving back, shop the Amazon Wish List by Friday, December 8. All gifts can be shipped directly to UREC and wrapped during our Warm a Winter Wish Event on December 13. Thank you for your consideration in support of this program!

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Study Abroad Applications Reopened

Submitted by: Erin Smith, Study Abroad Outreach and Partnerships Coordinator, Center for Global Engagement

It's not too late for your student to study abroad in 2024!

40+ JMU programs are now accepting applications on a rolling basis. Students can use the link below to search open programs. Encourage them to apply soon before spaces fill!

Learn More

A Month of Giving, Gratitude and Gleeful Moments with CEVC!

Submitted by: Lindsey Richards, Assistant Director, Engagement, Communication & Innovation, Community Engagement & Volunteer Center

As December kicks off, your student can dive into the festive spirit of giving, gratitude, and gleeful moments. From heartwarming events to exciting opportunities, this newsletter unveils a sleigh-full of joy, ensuring a truly special spring semester.

Alternative Driving Spring Breaks Are Still Open!

Is your Duke passionate about creating change? They can travel with a student-led group of Dukes to work alongside community leaders to address pressing social issues. No worries if your student missed the deadline for flying Breaks, there is still time to register for a driving Break! Make sure they reserve their spot today before they disappear faster than the holiday cookies at a family gathering!

Dates: March 9-16, 2024
Cost: $350

Need financial assistance? Need-based scholarships and fundraising opportunities are available! 
Registration Deadline: February 1 

Click here for more information on registration and Alternative Breaks. They can also email us at cevc@jmu.edu or call 540-568-6366 with questions.

Upcoming Workshops and Programs 

Weekly Game Night with Open Doors
Open Doors is Harrisonburg's only low-barrier shelter for anyone experiencing homelessness. Your student can sign up to play games and get to know Open Doors' guests. We will provide the games, so they just need to show up and have a great time! Transportation is available.

Date: Tuesdays, Now-March 26, 2024
Time: 6:15-8:15pm
Location: Open Doors (at Dayton United Methodist Church)
They Can Register Here!

MLK Day On
Is your Duke ready to spring into service?

Join us to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by serving the Harrisonburg community. We'll help The ARC of Harrisonburg-Rockingham as they prepare to distribute thousands of pounds of free food to anyone who shows up - no questions asked!

We'll meet in the bookstore parking lot at 8:30am and travel together by JMU van. We plan to be back on campus by 1:30pm.

Every year we talk about Dr. King's dream and how your Duke can take ACTION to make our community a better place!

Date: Monday, January 15, 2024
Time: 8:30am-1:30pm
Location: The ARC of Harrisonburg-Rockingham
They Can Register Here!

Alternative Break Fair and Pop Up Event

Have your student stop by our office January 26 to learn more about our upcoming Alternative Breaks and to browse or purchase items from a local business!

Date: Friday, January 26, 2024
Time: 11:00am-1:00pm
Location: CEVC Office, SSC 2200
They Can Register Here!

Shelter Cleanup with New Directions Center

New Directions Center is a non-profit organization working to reduce the impact of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking through survivor-centered advocacy, support services, community education, and awareness.

New Directions Center offers temporary emergency housing services for survivors in a safe, confidential home environment. Your Duke can join us in our annual shelter cleanup as we do our part to ensure that emergency housing is a welcoming refuge.

We'll depart from campus and travel by JMU van. We'll serve from 10am to 2pm with a break for lunch. After we debrief, we'll travel back to campus at 3pm.

Date: Saturday, January 27, 2024
Time: 9:00am-3:00pm
Location: New Directions Center
They Can Register Here!

Wishing you and your Duke a season filled with warmth, joy, and endless possibilities! For more information, visit the CEVC page, email us at cevc@jmu.edu, or call 540-568-6366.

Learn More

ISSS Hosts International Students for Annual Thanksgiving Meal

Submitted by: Zachary Kulzer, Communications Specialist, Center for Global Engagement International Programs

In a celebration of gratitude and cultural exchange, JMU’s International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) office hosted its annual Thanksgiving Celebration. This tradition dates back more than 10 years and aims to introduce students from diverse corners of the globe to this classic American holiday. Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November and is a time for people to come together, express gratitude, and share the aspects of their life they are thankful for. Even in a very busy semester, JMU’s international student community, along with their friends and family, gathered to do precisely that. 

JMU’s international students come from a wide mix of backgrounds and cultures, most of which don't celebrate Thanksgiving. Therefore, to showcase the university's commitment to fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment, ISSS has made the Thanksgiving meal a long-standing tradition. According to Jonathan Kratz, the Director of ISSS, “We've been doing it for a good long while. We’ve found that students really enjoy making these connections and being able to share in this traditional American holiday.” Several students who attended the Thanksgiving meal agreed with that sentiment. One of them, Maureen Malomba, noted “It's an opportunity for me to try the American traditional dishes, and of course it's about also just being grateful for the season, and I've come to really appreciate what it's all about.” Hosting the Thanksgiving meal is at the core of ISSS’ mission to support international students at JMU and to create an environment where they feel comfortable. 

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2023: What a Year! What a University!

Submitted by: Karen Risch-Mott, Director, Annual Giving

You probably already knew it, but on ESPN, they called JMU the "Everything School." It's true!

Students and the JMU community are achieving in exciting ways: 11-1 Football heads to Ft. Worth for the Armed Forces Bowl — a first in JMU sports ... 26,000 Dukes break ESPN Game Day record ... More than 95% of recent graduates report being either employed or in grad school ... Time magazine names JMU among Top 100 Best Colleges for Future Leaders 2024 ... And so much more!

You’ll see it all featured on a commemorative poster — available now until December 31 when you make a gift of $75 or more to the Madison Vision Fund.

As someone who loves a Duke, you'll love this poster too! Not only is it a special keepsake, but your gift helps secure and provide the Madison Experience today and in the future.

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What’s Happening with the Carrier Library Renovation?

Submitted by: Emily Blake, Communications & Marketing Coordinator, Libraries

The best way to stay up-to-date on the Carrier Library renovation and expansion is to follow JMU Libraries on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Just in case you’re not following yet, here is a recent highlight you might have missed!

The Carrier construction team recently uncovered decorative columns that were hidden under drop ceilings for decades! These columns will remain and will be visible in the renovated Carrier Library. Check out this related story about how we are 3D printing replicas of the column capitals in our makerspace, The Makery.

JMU Created 6 New Study Spaces

As we are gearing up for our first finals week since Carrier Library closed for renovation and expansion, we want to be sure your Duke knows about all the other great study spots at JMU!

JMU has opened 6 new study spaces on campus since the Carrier closure. Your Duke can find these and dozens of others on the JMU Study Spaces Map!

We’ve been working hard to create and advertise alternative study spaces during the Carrier renovation so your Duke has comfortable and convenient places to study and meet, especially during finals week. In the Libraries, we’re also extending our hours during finals week and opening up meeting rooms for study space.

In case you are sharing this information with your Duke, here is some related information they may find helpful:

 Thanks for helping your Duke to hear about the JMU Study Spaces Map and all the great places to study at JMU!

A recent video in our Carrier renovation series features an interview with our Libraries dean, Bethany Nowviskie, about how the design of the new building is helping to make the new Carrier Library a physical and intellectual crossroads for campus.

Learn more about the Carrier Library renovation and expansion and follow JMU Libraries on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube for more updates.

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Join 10,000+ fellow JMU parents and guardians in the official Facebook group! This group was created by the Office of Family Engagement in an effort to provide a safe online environment for parents & family members to engage with one another. Request to join the group here »


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Published: Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Last Updated: Monday, April 22, 2024

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