S&P Global increases Sweet Briar’s bond rating

Posted on October 20, 2021 by Dana Poleski

The improved financial health of Sweet Briar College has been recognized by S&P Global, which has raised the school’s long-term rating to BB from BB-. S&P noted that Sweet Briar’s outlook is stable.

One important factor in the rating is Sweet Briar’s enrollment, which has been steadily increasing over the last three years and has resulted in positive net tuition for the College. “The strong financial profile reflects adequate financial performance for the rating category, healthy available resources, modest debt with rapid amortization and no additional debt needs,” S&P said in its release. It noted Sweet Briar’s operating surpluses in 2019 and 2020, with the expectation of further improvement in 2021 and 2022, and also recognized the College’s healthy endowment and recent capital improvements.

Another factor in the rating is an expected clean bill of health from the College’s accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The final report from SACSCOC is expected in December. 

“Our financial health is at the heart of our ability to serve our students,” said President Meredith Woo. “Our success in recruiting students has been a critical component of that, as has our sound financial management. Our hard work is paying off, and I’m glad to see that it’s being acknowledged by S&P Global.” 

In addition, the S&P release commented on Sweet Briar’s successful navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular noting that the College re-configured classrooms and learning areas to enable social-distancing, required vaccination and testing of symptomatic students, and strongly suggested mask wearing indoors and in other confined spaces.

The high level of commitment to health, safety, academic excellence and financial responsibility demonstrated by the entire Sweet Briar community has been the cornerstone of the College’s upward trajectory. The Sweet Briar community is grateful to S&P for the validation of the College’s progress and prospect.