2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog 
    Jul 14, 2024  
2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Financial Aid

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.

Eligibility Restrictions

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.

Application Process

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.

Application Deadlines

Financial aid applications for new students are accepted beginning Oct. 1 each year and the priority deadline is Feb. 1.

General Information

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

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.

Federal Title IV Credit Balance Policy

Title IV is a term that refers to federal financial aid funds. Federal regulations state that any federal funds disbursed to a student’s tuition account in excess of allowable charges must be delivered to the student (or parent in case of an undergraduate PLUS loan) within fourteen days of funds having been applied to student’s account.

If other non-allowable charges (such as health insurance, vehicle registration, bookstore charges, etc.) are on the account, an outstanding balance due may exist after the Title IV excess has been delivered.

A credit balance occurs from excess federal student aid, also known as a Title IV credit balance, results when the following conditions are met.

  • Total federal Title IV financial aid, authorized or disbursed to a student’s account for a specific loan period exceeds the charges for tuition, mandatory fees, and room and board charged by the College for the same loan period.
  • The Title IV aid has been authorized/disbursed to the student’s account. Pending aid (Pending Aid in Banner) is not refundable.

To prevent an outstanding balance due, students or parents may authorize Sweet Briar to apply excess funds to the student account for non-allowable charges by writing/emailing the Business Office.

Federal Title IV Funds

  • Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan
  • Direct PLUS Loan
  • Federal Perkins Loan
  • Pell Grant
  • SEOG Grant
  • TEACH Grant

Title IV Allowable Charges

  • Tuition
  • Mandatory Fees
  • Room & Board, if contracted with the College

Title IV refunds will automatically process within 14 days after the credit balance occurs on the student’s account, in accordance with federal regulations. The only exception is when a student gives specific written permission to hold all or a portion of the credit balance for additional tuition and fees during the same loan period, within the limited circumstances permitted by federal regulations.

Official/Unofficial Withdrawal Policy


Federal regulations require that students who withdraw from all classes may only keep the federal financial aid (i.e., Title IV funds) they have “earned” up to the time of withdrawal. These regulations apply when you officially or unofficially withdraw. Official withdrawals include medical withdrawals, exceptions to enrollment appeals and any student who has been administratively withdrawn or expelled. The requirements for Title IV program funds when you withdraw are separate from any SBC refund policy.


  • Students who officially withdraw notifies the Dean’s Office and begins the withdrawal process. The Dean’s Office provides a notice of those students to several offices including the Office of Financial Aid. The Office of Financial Aid process the R2T4 calculation.
  • In processing the R2T4, adequate attention is given to RSIAREV (Account Detail Review Inquiry) to ensure that the correct institutions charges populate for the calculation. Review the R2T4 calculations to determine tuition charges and make sure the amount of charges are equal to the transactions posted on the students Account Detail Review Inquiry Form- RSIAREV.
  • Once the calculations are processed, the R2T4 forms is given to the Assistant Director in the Office of Financial Aid for the returns to be processed.


An Unofficial Withdrawal refers to a student who fails to attend or ceases to attend one or more classes without officially withdrawing from the College. The withdrawal determination date for students who do not officially withdrawal will be recorded as the last date the institution becomes aware that the student ceased attendance. For Federal financial aid purposes, it will be assumed that the student unofficially withdrew when notice of nonattendance is received from the Dean’s Office. The course or courses will be considered attempted but not earned. Any student, who fails to complete the required procedure for dropping a course before the stipulated date and who absences exceed the maximum allowed, will receive a withdrawal failure (W).


The withdrawal date for a student who withdraws is the earlier date of:

  • The date the student began the withdrawal process; or
  • The date the student otherwise provided the school with official notification of the intent to withdraw; or
  • The date the institution becomes aware the student ceased attendance; or
  • The midpoint of the payment period or period of enrollment for which Title IV assistance was disbursed if the student ceases to attend without official notification and withdrawal.

At SBC, the office designated for a student notification to withdraw is the Dean’s office.


Sweet Briar College is an institution that is not required to take attendance. But in the case of unofficial withdrawal, the college will contact all instructors to verify class attendance. If a faculty member indicates the student never attended, the college will first adjust the disbursed aid if there is a resulting change in eligibility and then calculate the Return of Title IV Funds. As a result, the student may end up owing the institution for the amount of unearned aid. If the student never attended any classes, all aid will be cancelled and the student billed for all outstanding charges.


The law specifies how SBC must determine the amount of Title IV program assistance that you earn if you withdraw. The Title IV programs that are covered by this law are: Federal Pell Grants, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants, TEACH Grants, Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOGs) and Federal Perkins Loans. When you withdraw during your payment period or period of enrollment, the amount of Title IV program assistance that you have earned up to that point is determined by a specific formula. If you received (or your school or parent received on your behalf) less assistance than the amount that you earned, you may be able to receive those additional funds. If you received more assistance than you earned, the school and/or you must return the excess funds.


The amount of assistance that you have earned is determined on a pro rata basis. For example, if you completed 30% of your payment period or period of enrollment, you earn 30% of the assistance you were originally scheduled to receive. Once you have completed more than 60% of the payment period or period of enrollment, you earn all the assistance that you were scheduled to receive for that period. If you receive (or your school or parent receives on your behalf) excess Title IV program funds that must be returned, your school must return a portion of the excess equal to the lesser of:

  • Your institutional charges multiplied by the unearned percentage of your funds, or
  • The entire amount of excess funds


If you officially withdraws, drop out, or are expelled before the first day of class, all federal financial aid funds paid to you for that payment period for institutional or non-institutional costs will be removed. You remain responsible for all charges incurred when aid is removed.


If you did not receive all of the funds that you earned, you may be due a Post-withdrawal disbursement. If your Post-withdrawal disbursement includes loan funds, SBC must get your permission before it can disburse them. You may choose to decline some or all of the loan funds so that you don’t incur additional debt.

  • SBC may automatically use all or a portion of your Post-withdrawal disbursement of grant funds for tuition, fees, and room and board charges (as contracted with the school).
  • SBC needs your permission to use the Post-withdrawal grant disbursement for all other school charges. If you do not give your permission (some schools ask for this when you enroll), you will be offered the funds.
  • However, it may be in your best interest to allow SBC to keep the funds to reduce your debt at the school.


The percentage of the payment period completed is calculated by dividing the total number of calendar days in the payment period into the number of calendar days completed as of the student’s withdrawal date.


Institutional charges are tuition, fees, room and board (if the students contracts with the institution for room and board) and other educationally-related expenses assessed by the institution.


The percentage of Title IV assistance earned is equal to the percentage of the payment period completed as of the withdrawal date.

  • If the withdrawal date occurs after the 60%, then the percentage of Title IV assistance earned is 100%.

This percentage is then applied to the total amount of Title IV grant and loan assistance that was disbursed (and that could have been disbursed) to the student, or on the student’s behalf in the case of a parent PLUS loan, for the payment period for which it was awarded.


The unearned amount of Title IV assistance to be returned is calculated by subtracting the amount of Title IV assistance earned by the student from the amount of Title IV aid that was disbursed to the student or on behalf of the student in the case of a parent PLUS loan.


SBC will return all unearned funds back to the aid program and the student will be responsible for any balance this creates.


If we are not required to return all of the excess funds, you must return the remaining amount. Any loan funds that you must return, you (or your parent for a PLUS Loan) repay in accordance with the terms of the promissory note. That is, you make scheduled payments to the holder of the loan over a period of time. The requirements for Title IV program funds when you withdraw are separate from any refund policy.

  • Therefore, you may still owe funds to SBC to cover unpaid institutional charges.
  • We will also charge you for any Title IV program funds that we are required to return.

If the return of the funds creates a balance due on the student account, the student will be responsible to pay the balance on their account.


A school must return Title IV funds to the programs from which the student received aid during the payment period or period of enrollment as applicable, in the following order, up to the net amount disbursed from each source:

1. Unsubsidized Direct Stafford loans (other than PLUS loans)

2. Subsidized Direct Stafford loans

3. Federal Perkins loans

4. Federal PLUS loans

5. Direct PLUS loans

6. Federal Pell Grants for which a Return is required

7. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) for which a return of funds is required

8. Federal TEACH Grants for which a Return is required

9. Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant for which a Return is required

Any federal college work-study funds that you have earned prior to your withdrawal are yours to keep and will not be returned.


SBC must return the funds for which it is responsible as soon as possible but no later than 45 days after the date of its determination that the student withdrew. An institution must determine the withdrawal date for a student that does not provide notification to the institution no later than 30 days after the end of the earlier of the payment period or period of enrollment.


SBC will notify a student in writing within 30 days of the institution’s determination that the student withdrew and either owes a Title IV or HEA overpayment or owes funds to SBC.


If funds have been returned for a student based on his or her official or unofficial withdrawal, those funds cannot be reinstated if the student petitions for, and receives, a retroactive withdrawal (official, medical withdrawal, or exception to enrollment).

SAP Policy for Financial Aid Recipients

Federal regulations require institutions of higher education to establish minimum standards of satisfactory academic progress (SAP) for students receiving Title IV federal aid. All college course work must be considered, regardless of whether the student received federal financial aid at the time.

Students must demonstrate progress toward the degree by completing a minimum number of semester hours and maintaining a minimum credit ratio. Only courses taken for credit will be used in calculating the minimum hours earned: withdrawals, incompletes and noncredit courses will not be included.

For full-time students, satisfactory academic progress is demonstrated by advancing to the next class each year. Students who fail to meet this standard are ineligible to receive federal financial aid. They may regain eligibility to receive federal aid once they regain satisfactory academic progress (SAP).

End of Semester

Minimum Semester Hours

Minimum GPA

End of Freshman Year



















For part-time students, satisfactory progress is demonstrated by compliance with the following schedule:

End of Semester

Minimum Semester Hours

Minimum GPA




















Students who fail to meet this standard are ineligible to receive federal financial aid. They may regain eligibility to receive federal aid once they regain satisfactory academic progress.

The Eligibility Committee shall monitor the academic progress of all students twice a year (end of each semester). The status of a student who, at the beginning of the academic year, has failed to demonstrate satisfactory progress toward the degree shall be reviewed by the Eligibility Committee, who shall place her on warning, probation, or declare her ineligible to continue at the College.

Maximum Time Frame for Degree Completion

Federal regulations specify that a student must complete his/her degree within 150 percent of the published length of the program. The maximum timeframe at Sweet Briar is measured in credits. For example, if your degree program requires 120 credits to graduate, the maximum timeframe for degree completion is 180 attempted credits (120 x 150% = 180).

Credits included in the maximum timeframe are all attempted credits, even when not a financial aid recipient, and regardless of whether attending full-time or part-time. Attempted credits include:

  • Earned credits - Passed (A through D-), Satisfactory (S)
  • Repeated courses - both attempts
  • Withdrawal (W)
  • Failures - Failed (F), Unsatisfactory (U)
  • Incomplete
  • All accepted transfer credits (including AP, consortium agreements, and Study Abroad courses) toward the degree program.

Federal regulations do not allow for the exclusion of courses in which a student has remained past the drop period and earned a grade of “W” from its calculation of the maximum timeframe.

Irrespective of this policy, all full-time students are limited to four years (eight semesters) of eligibility for College-funded sources of need and/or merit aid; part-time students, to six years (12 semesters). Semesters in which students are enrolled away pursuing courses of study that count towards Sweet Briar graduation requirements count toward this total.

Submitting an Appeal

If a student is denied financial aid for failure to meet any of the above standards for satisfactory academic progress, the student may request an appeal of the decision for the following reasons.

  • The death of a relative of the student
  • An injury or illness of the student; or
  • Other special circumstances

The appeal must be submitted in writing to the Dean of the College.

The student will be notified of response in writing with two weeks from the Dean.  If the appeal is approved, a student will receive financial aid on a probationary status and an academic plan may be required.  At the end of the semester, the student will be evaluated according to the SAP Policy to determine if financial aid will be awarded for the next semester.

If you have questions, please contact the Office of Financial Aid at (434) 381-6156.

If the appeal is denied by the Dean, the student will be notified in writing by letter and/or email of the decision. This notification will also make the student aware of their opportunity to respond and provide more information and documentation regarding their extenuating circumstances, if applicable. While there is no official appeal deadline, all information should be submitted during the term the student is seeking aid, and not after.

Federal regulations prevent a student from submitting the same appeal two semesters in a row. However, there is no limit to the number of appeals a student can submit if they can document there are new circumstances preventing the student from meeting SAP standards. Similarly, there is no limit to the number of semesters a student can be on financial aid probation as long as an approved appeal or academic plan is in place and the student continues to make progress toward their degree.

Academic Probation/Warning Policy

Any student who fails to achieve a cumulative credit ratio of 2.00 at the end of any term will be reported by the dean to the Eligibility Committee, which may place the student on academic warning, academic probation, academic suspension, or declare her ineligible to continue her college course. Normally, a student with a GPA below 1.80 shall be placed on academic probation.

The status of a student who has been placed on academic warning or academic probation for two consecutive semesters shall be reviewed by the Eligibility Committee, who may suspend the student or declare her ineligible to continue.

Students not making satisfactory progress toward the degree or who experience extreme academic difficulty in a given term may be placed on academic warning or academic probation even if their cumulative GPA is greater than 2.00.