Sweet Briar ranks high among colleges with ‘least private student loan debt’

Sweet Briar graduates in 2017Sweet Briar College is doing a great job of educating students while saddling them with little student loan debt, according to a new study by Student Loan Report. The study analyzes how much private student loan debt students from public and private colleges and universities across the country are graduating with.

Sweet Briar ranked No. 31 out of 800 private schools that left graduates with some private student loan debt, a form of financial aid known for higher interest rates and less forgiving repayment programs.

“The results show that Sweet Briar is doing a great job of helping its students fund their educations without having to take on loads of private student debt,” Student Loan Report’s Drew Cloud said.

All data for the report was licensed from the most recent Peterson’s Financial Aid dataset, and all data is relevant to the Class of 2016. The overall results of the study — including public and private colleges — can be seen here.

Wanda Spradley, director of financial aid at Sweet Briar, makes sure students understand how much they will have to pay back, and why they’re borrowing the money in the first place.

“We try to counsel our students on both ends — coming in when they apply for loans and going out when they graduate,” Spradley said. “We stress the importance of paying loans back and staying in contact with their servicer. Our office continues to be a resource to students even after they graduate.”

Wanda Spradley and parents
Wanda Spradley (standing) counsels parents during a free FAFSA session at Sweet Briar.

It’s no surprise Sweet Briar has been recognized for its comprehensive financial aid counseling in the past. In January, Student Loan Report ranked Sweet Briar among the best schools in the country for preparing graduates to repay their student loan debt. In September 2016, LendEDU ranked Sweet Briar No. 9 among Virginia colleges for Lowest Student Loan Debt at Graduation.

Chances are the process of financial aid — from filling out the FAFSA to reviewing and accepting award letters — will become easier at Sweet Briar as the College moves towards lower tuition and fewer, less confusing discounts. Starting with the 2018-2019 academic year, full tuition, including room and board, will be $34,000 — down 32 percent from this year. But that doesn’t mean scholarships are a thing of the past. More than 200 will remain available to eligible students. For more information, visit sbc.edu/reset.

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