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What Happens if You Fail a Class in College With Financial Aid?

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With the exorbitant prices of higher education, financial aid has helped students achieve their academic and professional dreams. Financial bodies such as FASFA have predefined policies that govern sponsorship, financial aid, scholarship, loans, and grants. Therefore, as a student, you have to fulfill all the institution’s GPA requirements to qualify for a loan. College studies might be challenging, but you need to maintain good grades throughout the semesters to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards. So, what happens if you fail a class in college with financial aid? Read more.

What Happens if You Fail a Class in College With Financial Aid

Failing in a class will result in a low GPA. Therefore, you ought to remain responsible for ensuring that you have good grades. Failing a class might not affect your financial aid status, but it might make you lose your scholarship or loan in other cases.  For example, there are instances when a student receives a Pell Grant that is non-refundable. Nonetheless, when you fail a class, your eligibility for the aid becomes lower, and you might have to pay the funds back.

Factors That May Lead To The Loss of Financial Aid Eligibility


A student can get an F in their class for several reasons. However, the more you score an F, the lower your GPA gets. Therefore, you need to ensure you have a good GPA to qualify for financial aid. When you get an F in a class, consider supplementing it with an A in another class. You can also find a tutor, ask for help from your professor and make the most of university resources, i.e. the library. The idea is to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). 

A wanting Satisfactory Academic Progress

The financial aid office monitors your academic performance and progress. It also has standards you must meet as part of your satisfactory academic progress. Therefore, a poor SAP result might contribute to your ineligibility for financial assistance. In some instances, a class retake is necessary. You might receive financial aid for the class retake if they approve your appeal.  

Different colleges have different SAP standards. So, you must examine their criteria to stay above the thresh hold. For example, you need to maintain an accumulative GPA of 2.0, attend over 60% of all your classes, complete certain credit hours per year, and demonstrate progress to completing your studies. 

Therefore, it is your responsibility as a student to examine the SAP criteria and standards. Thus, you will understand what GPA you need to maintain for financial aid eligibility. 

Poor Class Attendance 

As a responsible student, you should have a 60% score and above in class attendance. If you don’t attend your classes, you are more likely to fail in that class. This is because you are not up to date with the school curriculum. You may even miss out on assignments, exams, or practical lessons. As a result, this lowers your chance of qualifying for financial aid. Hence, you must attend at least all of the classes.

How failing grades affect different types of financial aid

You might ask what happens if I fail a class in college with financial aid? Do I lose my financial aid? The answer depends on the type of financial assistance. This is because failing a class has a different impact on different types of financial aid. Let us look at some;


Grants are more like rewards for your good academic performance. They are cash prizes you receive from an institution or a non-profit organization. If you fail a class, it might not affect your grant since you don’t need to pay it back. It’s important to remember that grants are awarded to needy students.

Pell Grants

Pell Grants are awarded to students from low-income family groups. It is one of the most popular grants for college students. To receive a Pell Grant, one has to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The application will determine the amount of expected family contribution (EFC).

As long as FAFSA is submitted every year, a failed class will not prevent you from getting a Pell Grant. However, if you continue getting poor grades or fail to show progress towards your graduation, you might lose the Pell Grant. You may even up end paying back the funds. So, you need to have an excellent Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to keep your Pell Grant. This way, you won’t have to pay any money back.


Scholarships are like grants, but they are usually merit-based. This means you may be awarded one based on your academic qualifications. With a high GPA of 3.4 and above, you can get scholarships from federal, state, local organizations, or the University. You do not pay back scholarship money once you receive it. However, failing a class lowers your chance of getting this type of financial aid. To prevent losing your scholarship, consider retaking the class.


Student loans are the least desirable financial aid since you have to pay them back. If you are unable to get grants or scholarships, consider this as your last option. Different sources like banks and credit lenders provide student loans depending on your SAP reports, credit scores, and your family’s financial background. Remember, students are supposed to repay their loans when they finish school. It’s also important to note that if you keep failing in your class, the amount keeps piling up whether you graduate or not.

What happens if you lose your financial aid?

College studies can get overwhelming, and to receive and maintain financial aid; you will need a GPA score ranging between 2.0 to 4.0.  So, what happens if you fail a class in college with financial aid? Chances are, you might lose the funding. Therefore it is essential to have good grades throughout college life. However, because life is unpredictable, you may go through certain life events that may make it hard for you to be in the right mental state to attend classes—i.e. diagnosis of a terminal illness, accidents, or the death of a family member.

With the limited source of finances, you may consider the following strategies to get funds for your college fees.

Getting on a payment plan

A payment plan will help you get extra money without missing a class. This payment plan is designed to help you pay your college fees in installments. This way, you won’t feel stressed about paying a significant sum of money at a go. Financial aid offices will help you get on a suitable payment plan. Hence, students can utilize it according to their convenience.

Private student loan

Students can obtain a private student loan from money lenders like banks, online lenders, credit unions, etc. To acquire the loan, you may need a good credit score, i.e., a minimum of 750. If you don’t qualify for the loan, you may ask a close family or friend to be a cosigner. Before applying for a student loan, confirm their requirements, credit score limit, interest rates, and repayment terms.

This type of loan is a good option when you need only a few thousand dollars to complete your education. After that, you are supposed to repay the loan, or else you won’t graduate. Remember, you will also pay for the accrued interest.

Emergency student loan

If you fall short of finances to complete your education, you can take an emergency student loan from your college. These are low-amount loans that are sometimes interest-free. However, you must be able to pay the loan within one or a couple of months, depending on the policies set by your college. You may also want a loan to cover your expenditure on transportation, food, and residence. Remember, if you don’t pay your loan on time, you might not be able to graduate.

Find a job

Having a part-time job will help you pay some of your college fees. However, you need to balance work and school for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). Similarly, you might also consider asking for help from family members.

What To Do If You Fail A Class With Financial Aid

Retake the failed class

In your studies, you will have courses required for your major and some general course units. A failed general course class that doesn’t affect your GPA below the satisfactory standard will not affect your financial aid. Nonetheless, when you fail a class compulsory for your major, a retake is required. There are instances when you can retake the class on financial aid. 

Once you fail a class in college with financial aid, and your GPA goes below the set standards; the financial aid might be revoked. You may also end up paying some of the money back. If the financial aid offices see a drop in your performance, they will issue a warning, demanding better grades. Nonetheless, where your progress doesn’t meet the set academic and GPA standards, you will become ineligible for future financial grants and aids. 

When you maintain satisfactory academic progress, you won’t need to pay back your financial aid once you fail a class. Therefore, ensure to be diligent enough to hold an acceptable accumulative GPA. 

Appeal the grade

As mentioned earlier, life is quite unpredictable. A student may fail a class because of the loss of a family member, a major illness, serious injury, or extracurricular events such as sports, arts, or music. If a student can prove that they failed in a class for the above reasons, the failing grades can be switched to exempt or incomplete.

Appeal to your professor

If you class a class in college with financial aid, the best thing to do is talk to your professor. They might allow you to retake the class or give you a chance to improve your grade. This might be in the form of extra assignments. This way, you can have a chance of getting a better grade before you renew your financial aid. If you have been a diligent student, they might give you a chance to redeem yourself.

Guidelines That Will Help You Avoid Failing a Class

Students make the mistake of waiting until they fail a class to work on their grades. Nevertheless, there are tested and proven ways to maintain good grades hence creating an opportunity to be eligible for financial aid. These are;

Join a study group

When students work together, they can develop better ideas, support and motivate each other, and even learn new study habits from the other members. Study groups also help one improve their confidence and communication skills, a skill essential in the classroom.

Employ diligence 

Diligence is an attribute that will enable you to maintain good grades. As a student, you need to attend your classes faithfully, ask questions, do your assignments and prepare well for exams. Therefore even if you fail a class, the professor might give you a second chance because of your previous efforts.

Work closely with your professor

Your professor is not your enemy but one of your keys to success. Therefore, you should always work closely with them because they will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. They will also guide and give you tips to perform better these include giving you extra assignments or recommending certain books. So, you need to listen to their advice and seek their help from time to time.

Be ready to unlearn, learn, and relearn

Every day is a chance to acquire more knowledge and competencies. To perform better in school, you must be humble enough to realize learning is a continuous process. This way, you will have the curiosity to learn more and challenge yourself.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

SAP- Satisfactory Academic Progress report is an assessment done by the financial aid office in college to show your successful completion of coursework toward an eligible certificate or degree. To qualify for financial aid, you should maintain an impressive SAP report. Different colleges have different SAP standards. To demonstrate good academic progress, you must ;

  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 for your degree
  • Successfully complete 67% of your attempted credit hours
  • Complete your degree within 150% of the required credit hours
  • Maintain an enrollment status of at least half-time

It is advisable to maintain good academic growth to avoid financial interruptions.

Withdrawing From a Class With Financial Aid

When you no longer wish to take a class and you are on financial aid, you might ask yourself, will it affect my financial aid? Will I regain it and, Is it better to fail or withdraw from a class?

Before you withdraw from a class, you need to consider the following;

  • If you withdraw from a class, i.e. stop attending a class and score a poor grade. Your financial aid may be cancelled. You might even suffer a penalty.
  • If you drop from a class, and it affects your GPA, you may put yourself in jeopardy of receiving financial aid in the future.
  • If you decide to withdraw from a class during the last sessions without completing your 60% credit hours, you are bound to repay the financial aid.

So what should you do if you withdraw from a class with financial aid? Kindly contact the financial aid office. This will not only help you manage your loan repayment, but they might grant you a grace period to repay the loan.

You can regain your financial aid by getting back on track academically and boosting your GPA. If you dropped a class because of a loss of a loved one, an illness, or extracurriculars, you could file an appeal. Before you withdraw or fail in a class, it is important to know the consequences of both actions on the financial aid. This way, you won’t make a decision that might affect the eligibility of getting funds in the future.


Students tend to freak out whenever they fail a class in college with financial aid. However, freaking out doesn’t make the situation better. Your main objective should be to pass all college exams. Thus, when you fail a class, you must consider asking for help from a tutor as well as improving your studying tactics. Failed courses will affect your GPA, which eventually affects your financial aid. So, what happens when you fail a class in college with financial aid? Appeal your grade, to your professor and retake the failed class. This way, you will achieve a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and increase your chances of getting a loan.

Does FASFA let you retake classes?

Yes, FAFSA will let you retake classes once if you satisfy the set SAP (satisfactory academic progress) conditions.

If you fail a class do you have to pay back loans?

Yes. You will have to pay back the loans. These include private student loans, students loans, and emergency loans. Failure to do so, you might not graduate from the school.

How do I get my FASFA back after failing?

Once you get better grades and demonstrate satisfactory academic progress, you will be eligible to get financial aid from FASFA.

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