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Reaction pours in after Sweet Briar College announces closing

Reaction pours in after Sweet Briar College announces closing (Image 1) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

(WSLS 10) - Reaction and support from people and institutions around southwest Virginia flooded in Wednesday afternoon after all-women's school Sweet Briar College announced it would close at the end of the current academic year. 

Hollins University President Gray released a statement on the university's website, via Facebook, within an hour of the announcement going public. 

The Facebook post implied readiness to welcome Sweet Briar transfer students saying, "Hollins will support them in the transition and stand ready to welcome some of their students."

The President's message on the Hollins website emphasized the differences between the two schools, in spite of a "lively rivalry" the two have enjoyed for decades. The statement says, in part:

Hollins is strong and growing stronger as we approach our 175th anniversary in 2017. For example:

In contrast to the daunting fiscal challenges at Sweet Briar, we are on solid financial footing, operating with no debt.

Meanwhile, Sweet Briar College representatives posted messages of reassurance to alumnae and current students on the school's Facebook page.

Many current and former students posted messages, asking questions about the validity of their degrees, student loans, transfer credits and more. 

With a heavy heart we are announcing that the Board of Directors has voted to close Sweet Briar College as a result of...

Posted by Sweet Briar College on Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Post by Sweet Briar College.

Virginia State Delegate Ben Cline released the following statement about the school's announcement:

"I am stunned and heartbroken at the announced closing of Sweet Briar College. News of the school's closure after over 100 years is not only devastating to its faculty, staff, and students, but also to the entire Amherst community," said Cline. "It is unfortunate that more could not be done to save the school, but I will work with administrators to assist the employees and students of the school at this sad time."

As reactions continue to come from those in the community, students will work through how to proceed. The College posted many resources on its Transition page at SBC.edu/Transition, however, many had trouble accessing the site due to heavy traffic. 

Information contained on that page is listed here, but may be subject to change: 

Transition Overview

As a result of insurmountable financial challenges, Sweet Briar College will be winding down academic operations over the next several months. The Class of 2015 will be our final graduating class, and the College will close on August 25, 2015, in order to allow for the completion of summer credit hours. We are committed to helping our students, faculty, and staff in the transition process. We have included below the most important information based on what we know now, and we expect to have more details in the coming weeks.

Transfer Information for Students

· We are working to establish "teach-out" arrangements with several local, private liberal arts colleges and universities under which students may transfer for the fall 2015 semester through an expedited process. These institutions are: Randolph College, in Lynchburg, VA; Hollins University, in Roanoke, VA; Mary Baldwin College, in Staunton, VA; and Lynchburg College, in Lynchburg, VA. Our goal is to conduct an expedited transfer process for you, and to help you graduate on time. We expect to have more information within the next week.

· All of Sweet Briar's current majors and minors are represented in at least one of the four colleges, except for those enrolled in the Margaret Jones Wyllie '45 Engineering Program. See below for more information on options for engineering students.

· There are transfer opportunities for students enrolled in the Margaret Jones Wyllie '45 Engineering Program. Kettering University in Flint, MI, will expedite transfer applications for Sweet Briar engineering students for the fall 2015 semester. We are currently looking at other options and will provide updates as soon as they are available.

· Please note that you must satisfactorily finish your coursework this semester in order to transfer credits from the 2015 spring semester to another higher education institution.

· Representatives from the teach-out colleges will be onsite at Sweet Briar during the week of March 16 to talk with all interested students and parents about their institutions and answer questions. As soon as we know the specific schedule for these visits, we will communicate that information.

· All of Sweet Briar's athletics are represented in at least one of the four colleges with which we are establishing arrangements. Student athletes are invited to contact coaches at these colleges.

· You are not limited to attending one of the four colleges with which we are establishing teach-out arrangements; however, it is important to understand that other schools will have their own admissions policies, timelines, and criteria for accepting transfer credits. If you are interested in attending another college, you should begin looking into its transfer procedures immediately.

Financial Information

· You may need to update your FAFSA application. If you completed the FAFSA application before the end of February 2015, you may need to update the FAFSA to have the results released to other colleges. If you want federal student financial aid and have not yet completed the FAFSA application, you will need to fill it out following the typical procedure for your new college.

· The colleges with which we are establishing teach-out arrangements offer financial aid packages similar to Sweet Briar's. Like Sweet Briar, your new school will calculate your eligibility for federal student financial aid (like Pell Grants and need-based loans) based on the school's cost of attendance, your estimated family contribution, and other relevant factors. Loans and scholarships administered through Sweet Briar will not continue.The college to which you transfer may have additional aid options. The Sweet Briar financial aid office can refer you to the appropriate contacts at the teach-out schools for additional information.

· You are still responsible for current debts and student loans, which are held by the federal government or your bank. In addition, all Parent-Plus loans are held and regulated by the federal government. Sweet Briar will provide exit counseling concerning your federal student loan obligations. You should check with your lender for information about your obligations with respect to any private education loans. Student accounts must be current before Sweet Briar can release transcripts to other schools.

Study Abroad

· If you are currently studying abroad, you should continue with your semester as planned. We expect that if you choose to attend one of the four schools with which we are entering into teach-out agreements, your study-abroad credits will transfer. Please contact Tiffany Cummings at 434-381-6362 or tcummings@sbc.edu for assistance with the process for transfer of study abroad credits.

· We are working with Hollins University to adopt and continue the Junior Year in France and the Junior Year in Spain programs. If you intend to study abroad next year, we expect you can continue with these plans through Hollins University.

International Students

· We are working to determine transfer options for international students. More information will be coming.

Graduation

· The 106th Sweet Briar College Commencement will take place as planned on Saturday, May 16. Students from the Class of 2015 will receive their diplomas from Sweet Briar College. This will be the final Sweet Briar commencement ceremony.

Additional Information and Support

We will offer information sessions for students, organized by class year, in the coming days and weeks. The current opportunities that are scheduled are:

Tuesday, March 3

· 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Information session for seniors in Josey Dining Room

· 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Information session for juniors in Josey Dining Room

· 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Information session for sophomores in Josey Dining Room

· 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Information session for first-years in Josey Dining Room

Wednesday, March 4

· 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Information session for seniors in FAC Theater

· 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Information session for juniors in FAC Theater

· 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Information session for sophomores in FAC Theater

· 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Information session for first-years in FAC Theater

Thursday, March 5

· 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Information session for seniors in FAC Theater

· 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Information session for juniors in FAC Theater

· 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Information session for sophomores in FAC Theater

· 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Information session for first-years in FAC Theater

Weekly on Wednesdays, starting March 18

· 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Information session for seniors in FAC Theater

· 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Information session for juniors in FAC Theater

· 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Information session for sophomores in FAC Theater

· 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Information session for first-years in FAC Theater

Additional Resources

· Sbc.edu/transition will be updated regularly with information to help faculty, staff, and students during this transition.

o This site will also provide more information about each of the transfer colleges/universities.

· Current students and their parents may contact the Office of the Dean of the Faculty in Fletcher Hall (Amy Jessen-Marshall) for academic questions at 434-381-6205 or the Office of Co-Curricular Life in Prothro (Cheryl Steele) for student life questions at 434-381-6134.

· Current students and their parents should contact the Office of Financial Aid for questions regarding their financial aid package. You can emailfinancialaid@sbc.edu or call them at 800-381-6156.

· If you have specific questions about your course credit and transcript, please contact the Office of the Registrar at 434-381-6179.

· For questions regarding FAFSA procedure or protocol, please contact the Office of Financial Aid, by email at financialaid@sbc.edu or call them at 800-381-6156.

· If you would like to speak with a health services counselor, please set up an appointment by calling 434-381-6140.