Sweet Briar College offers merit- and need-based financial aid to students who qualify. The student and/or her family are expected to pay for Sweet Briar’s cost of attendance (COA) to the extent they are able. If the family demonstrates that it lacks the financial resources to do so, the student becomes eligible to receive need-based financial assistance.
The student demonstrates her eligibility for assistance through an application process, beginning with the Free Application for Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA), in which she and her family submit documents detailing their financial income and assets. Sweet Briar applies the Federal Methodology Need Analysis formula to this financial information to calculate the family’s ability to pay the College’s full cost of attendance. The dollar amount calculated is determined to be the expected family contribution (EFC). If that amount is less than Sweet Briar’s cost of attendance, the difference is called financial need, and the College offers the student an award package to help make up the difference.
The student receives an award letter that specifies the total amount in scholarships and need-based aid, including the individual sources of assistance such as scholarships, loans, grants and work-study, and any follow-up action the student must take to have the assistance credited on her tuition account.
The Award Package
The award usually consists of scholarship, grant, loan and work-study job money. Scholarship and grant money is not repaid, loan money must be repaid, and job money is received in the form of a biweekly paycheck for work the student performs in the campus job to which she is assigned.
If the student receives a scholarship from the College, or a scholarship or grant from outside the College, that amount must be considered part of her financial aid award. Also, if she obtains additional grant money from a source outside the College after she has received her award, her award must be reviewed and, if appropriate, adjusted to ensure that her package does not exceed her need.
The loan and job portions of the award are optional - the College does not require the student to accept either - but if the student declines either or both, she and her family are responsible for finding the additional funds to make up the difference.
Grants that may be part of the financial assistance award include the Federal Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant, Vermont State Grant, Rhode Island State Grant, the grants provided under the auspices of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, Sweet Briar College Grants and private scholarships or grants, which the student obtains on her own initiative.
Loans that may be part of the financial assistance award include the Federal Direct Ford Loan, the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Ford Loan, the Sweet Briar College Dairy Loan and the Mary and Lee Ashcraft Loan.
Funding for the student’s campus job may be derived from the Federal Work-Study Program or from Sweet Briar funds. The typical job award is $1,000 per year. To earn that amount during the course of the school year, the student works approximately six hours per week at the federal minimum hourly wage.
Only U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible to receive federal or Sweet Briar need-based financial aid.
Most institutional, federal and state scholarship and financial aid is portable to a Sweet Briar-approved study abroad or off-campus study program during a semester/year. Students are encouraged to research and apply for external scholarships for study abroad.
The application process for need-based assistance is an annual one. Each academic year, the student must submit information about her family’s income and assets on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If she is selected for verification by the Department of Education, she also must provide signed photocopies of her and her family’s IRS tax return transcripts and W-2s, as well as any other documents specified by the financial aid office.
Financial aid applications for new students are accepted beginning Oct. 1 each year and the priority deadline is Feb. 1.
Students or family members who have questions about eligibility for need-based assistance or who wish to receive information regarding the College’s tuition payment plans should contact the financial aid office.
The Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant (VTAG)
The Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant (VTAG) was instituted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth in 1972 to help reduce the difference in the cost of tuition between Virginia’s public and private colleges. Any student who is a legal resident of Virginia and attends a Virginia private college as a full-time, degree-seeking student is eligible to receive the VTAG, regardless of eligibility for need aid. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) estimates that the amount of the 2019-20 VTAG will be $ 3,400; the actual amount is dependent on funds appropriated by the Virginia General Assembly and therefore may be less than this. Applications are available at the financial aid office or through SCHEV.
Merit scholarships are intended to recognize a student’s achievements. Funds are made possible by gifts provided by generous alumnae and friends of the College. Accepted applicants are automatically considered for merit scholarships. Consideration for the Presidential Scholars program is by invitation only based on grade point average and academic achievement in high school.
Designated scholarships to recognize students who meet specific criteria - such as the Girl Scout Gold Award and others - are also available, some of which require additional application materials. Details can be found on the scholarships webpage.
As an NCAA Division III athletics institution, Sweet Briar College does not offer athletics scholarships.
Continuation of Financial Aid
Financial aid is limited to the student’s cost of attendance and is based on enrollment hours. Financial aid awards may be renewable, although not automatically and not guaranteed. Students must reapply and qualify for financial assistance each year; both need-based and merit aid require maintaining satisfactory academic progress and a GPA of 2.5. The institution reserves the right to revise any portion of a financial aid award if funding of federal, state or institutional programs changes, or other circumstances occur affecting the student’s eligibility or the institution’s financial ability.
Students must inform the Office of Financial Aid of any additional resources that are or become available, including grants, scholarships or loans. Gift aid from outside sources is considered in the student’s award. If necessary, Federal Work-Study or need-based student loans may be adjusted before any need-based grant.