The Education Department said Virginia Tech was too slow in notifying students, faculty and staff about the situation.
The department also said that put the university in violation of a federal law, known as the Clery Act, requiring timely warnings when there are safety threats.
During the Obama administration, there's been a ramping up in enforcement under the act, which has gotten recent attention because of scandals at Penn State and Syracuse.
Virginia Tech says it acted appropriately during the crisis.
On Wednesday, university leaders will get the chance to make their case to an Education Department administrative judge, Ernest C. Canellos, in hopes of erasing a fine that isn't hefty but can leave a black mark on an institution's record.
The maximum fine for violating the law is $27,500. Colleges and universities can also lose the right to offer federal student loans, but that's never happened.
In the highest fine issued under the Clery Act, Eastern Michigan University agreed in 2008 to pay $350,000 for covering up the rape and killing of a student in her dorm room by telling reporters and her parents there were no signs of foul play.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.