Should I go to James Madison University or Virginia Commonwealth University? Compare the two schools' costs, SAT, ACT, GPA, admissions criteria and outcomes to help you determine if JMU or VCU is the better college for you.

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James Madison University vs. Virginia Commonwealth University comparison
James Madison University Virginia Commonwealth University College 3 College 4
James Madison University Virginia Commonwealth University
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Location Harrisonburg, VA Richmond, VA
Setting Small City Midsize City
Students 21,751 30,697
Type Public 4 Year Public 4 Year
Religious Affiliation - - - -
Status Non-profit Non-profit


Tuition (In State) $7,250 $12,094
Tuition (Out of State) $23,064 $32,742
Room & Board $10,512 $11,506
Avg Net Price $16,154 $20,741
Avg Grant Aid $8,556 $9,187
% Receiving Grant Aid 28% 68%

Admission and Academics

Acceptance Rate 71.1% 86.2%
Avg High School GPA 3.57 3.58
Admissions Standards Difficult Difficult
Applicant Competition Low
ACT Range 23/28 21/28
SAT Range 1120/1290 1070/1260
Application Deadline Jan 15, 2020 Jan 15, 2020


Graduation Rate 81% 53%
Median Earnings (After 10 years) $60,300 $47,500
Making Student Loan Payments 83% 56%
Median Student Loan Debt $20,899 $23,250
Median Loan Payment $216 $240
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Comparable Facts

  • Virginia Commonwealth University is larger than than JMU based on total student enrollment (30,697 students vs. 21,751 students)

JMU vs. VCU Cost Comparison

Which college is more expensive, JMU or VCU?

  • Virginia Commonwealth University is 66.8% more expensive to attend than JMU for in-state tuition ($12,094.00 vs. $7,250.00)
  • Out of state tuition is 42% higher at VCU than James Madison University ($32,742.00 vs. $23,064.00)
  • The typical actual cost that students pay to attend (average net price) is less at James Madison University than VCU ($16,154 vs. $20,741)
  • Living costs (room and board or off-campus housing budget) at James Madison University are 9.5% lower than costs at Virginia Commonwealth University ($10,512 vs. $11,506)
  • More students receive financial grant aid at Virginia Commonwealth University than James Madison University (68% vs. 28%)
  • The average total grant financial aid received by Virginia Commonwealth University students is 7.4% larger than aid received James Madison University ($9,187 vs. $8,556)

JMU vs. VCU Admissions Difficulty Comparison

Which college is harder to get into, JMU or VCU? Average SAT and ACT scores plus acceptance rates offer good insight into the difficulty of admission between VCU or JMU .

  • The average SAT score at James Madison University (1134) is 37 points higher than at VCU (1097)
  • Incoming JMU students have a 1 point higher average ACT score (25) than students at VCU (24)
  • VCU has a higher acceptance rate (86.2%) than JMU (71.1%)

JMU vs. VCU Graduation Outcomes Comparison

Which is better, JMU or VCU? Graduation rate, salary and amount of student loan debt are indicators of a college which offers better outcomes for its graduates. Compare the following outcomes facts between VCU and JMU.

  • The graduation rate at JMU is higher that Virginia Commonwealth University (81% vs. 53%)
  • Graduates from James Madison University earn on average $12,800 more per year than VCU graduates after ten years. ($60,300 vs. $47,500)
  • James Madison University students graduate with a $2,351 lower median federal student loan debt than VCU graduates. ($20,899 vs. $23,250)
  • JMU graduates are paying $24 less per month on federal student loans than VCU graduates. ($216 vs. $240)
  • More JMU graduates are actively paying back their federal student loan debt than former VCU students, three years after graduation. (83% vs. 56%)

Sources: U.S. Department of Education IPEDS and College Scorecard