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James Madison University Sets Record With $53M In Student Fees Leading Among Public Schools


James Madison University has swiftly achieved success at the FBS level, notably in both football and men’s basketball, with significant funding originating directly from JMU students.

In fiscal 2023, the James Madison athletic department allocated $68 million towards athletics, a notable portion—$53.3 million—derived from mandatory student fees imposed on every JMU student alongside their tuition fees. This figure surpasses the student fee subsidy of any other public school in the nation by $23 million, including Old Dominion University.

For the academic year 2024, undergraduate tuition at JMU amounts to $30,790 annually for out-of-state students and $13,576 for in-state students, inclusive of a mandatory student fee totaling $5,662. Predominantly, this fee contributes to various services and initiatives, with a substantial portion of $2,362 per student annually designated for athletics.

Despite significant reliance on student fees, JMU’s men’s basketball team recently clinched an impressive victory over Wisconsin in the NCAA tournament’s first round and is set to face Duke in the second round on Sunday.

Notably, the $53.3 million garnered from student fees not only leads in 2023 but also stands as the highest total observed by Sportico in over six years of tracking revenue/expense reports for public athletic departments. This figure surpasses the entire 2023 athletics operating budget for over 40 FBS schools and nearly matches JMU’s preceding year’s athletics budget.

Furthermore, the student fee total significantly surpasses the revenue generated by the athletic department in fiscal 2023, underscoring the department’s reliance on such fees amid its transition from FCS to FBS status.

JMU, mandated by state law, must limit student fees to a specific percentage of athletics funding. This requirement, now set at 55% as a member of the Sun Belt conference, prompts strategic budget adjustments, including increased fee collections to cover deferred debt payments and other rising expenses.

In the landscape of college sports finance, the reliance on additional funds beyond athletics revenue is commonplace, with student fees representing a significant source of funding among public athletic departments.

Despite financial considerations, JMU’s football and men’s basketball teams have demonstrated remarkable performance, with the football team securing an impressive 11-1 record during the past regular season and the men’s basketball team boasting a remarkable 31-3 record, including victory in the Sun Belt tournament and securing a spot in March Madness for the first time since 2013.

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