Sweet Briar College in sweet spot after facing closure few years ago

Sweet Briar saw 42 percent increase in new student enrollment this fall

By Magdala Louissaint - Lynchburg Bureau Reporter

AMHERST, Va. - Sweet Briar College is no longer in need of saving.

"Because our alumni raised over $13 million in this last year, we are well on our way to be able to fully support our academic needs in the coming year," Lynn Rainville, dean of Sweet Briar College, said.

Facing closure in 2015 for financial challenges, the college was placed on financial warning.

"They will just be monitoring us over the next year and then in April of 2019, we expect to come off that warning," Rainville said.

Sweet Briar has seen positive changes this fall semester. A 42 percent increase in new student enrollment. To attract more students, the school redefined some majors, added new courses, reduced tuition to $21,000 and created a new academic calender.

"It really means that the messages are resonating with students and families. Particularly around the tuition, curricular reset. We made those changes to be innovative and set Sweet Briar apart," Melissa Richards, vice president of communications and enrollment management, said.

Later this year, Sweet Briar will have an official count of how many students it has enrolled. Right now, school officials are estimating 324.

Moving forward, debt-free, the college will focus on bringing in more students interested in science and liberal arts majors, as well as athletes.

"Now we have strengthened our everyday finances and can use those donations for new and exciting chapters in our academic offerings," Rainville said.

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