Mary Jensen, vice president of enrollment and strategic growth, announces the new EMU Promise Grant initiative at Admitted Student Day on Saturday, Feb. 3. Eligible students from families with an adjusted gross income of less than $65,000 can get their tuition costs fully covered through the promise grant program.

EMU unveils new Promise Grant

Initiative aligns with vision to open new pathways of access

With just about everything rising in price these days, EMU is ensuring that a quality college education is within reach of more students than ever before, thanks to its new Promise Grant initiative. 

The EMU Promise Grant, which takes effect during the fall 2024 semester, fully covers the tuition costs for Virginia residents whose adjusted gross family incomes are under $65,000. It is for first-time, full-time undergraduate students. For more details about EMU Promise Grant eligibility, and a sample of frequently asked questions, visit

Mary Jensen, vice president of enrollment and strategic growth, first unveiled the EMU Promise Grant to the public at Saturday’s Admitted Student Day. She said the new initiative is one way EMU is embodying its vision of opening new pathways of access and achievement, a vision outlined in the university’s 2023-2028 strategic plan, Pathways of Promise: Preparing Tomorrow’s Unifying Leaders.

“It’s part of our recognition of the rising costs that are real,” she said. “We want to make sure the most vulnerable, the most marginalized, those who have the least access, aren’t as impacted by the fact that everything costs more.”

Not only does the EMU Promise Grant create access to education, but it also shows college-bound students that an EMU education is more affordable than they may have thought. After all, the average net cost for an EMU student in 2022-2023 was just $15,309.  

Admitted EMU students tour the campus on Saturday, Feb. 3. (Photo: EMU/Macson McGuigan)

“A lot of students assume a private college is not affordable, so they don’t consider it… they don’t even entertain the possibility,” Jensen said. “We hope this grant will encourage people to consider a private college and put EMU on their list of possibilities.”

In comparison to schools that offer a similar type of promise grant, EMU’s is among the most generous and with the fewest restrictions. EMU’s income threshold for promise grant eligibility is significantly higher, and more accepting, than comparable ODAC member schools. Other schools require that promise grant students pay room and board costs to live on campus. Under the EMU Promise Grant, students can choose to live at home within 30 miles of the Harrisonburg, Virginia, campus and still receive the award. And, there is no minimum high school GPA requirement to receive the EMU Promise Grant, unlike some other schools’ programs.

One of the best parts about the EMU Promise Grant is that students don’t even need to apply for it. If they qualify, they will automatically receive their tuition paid for (after state, federal, and institutional grants or scholarships have been awarded).

February coincides with Financial Aid Awareness Month, a time when many in the higher education community provide crucial information to students and families about access to federal, state and institutional aid. Now that the word is officially out about the EMU Promise Grant, Jensen said undergraduate admissions counselors are eager to let students know about the new program.

“They’re very excited to tell students they’re working with, ‘If your family is eligible for this grant, we have some really good news for you,’” she said.

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