What happens when you fail a class in college?

Let’s face it, college is hard, and you might fail a class. But that’s OKAY!

If you are on the verge of failing a college class or have already failed one, you might be wondering what happens next.
While it’s obviously never your intention to fail a class, you should do your best to make sure you pass, but failing is not the line’s end. It’s important to know what impact failing a college course could have on your academics, your life, and any financial aid you might be receiving.

Let’s break it down

How failing a college class impacts your Grade Point Average (GPA), and why it matters

College classes are calculated a bit differently than those in grade school. If you fail a class in college, it *might not affect your GPA. Some classes are taken pass/fail, which means there’s no in-between. If you fail one of these classes, the ‘fail’ will show on your college transcript, but not be factored into your GPA.
However, all other class grades will be factored into your GPA. Most colleges require a GPA of between 2.0-3.0, which means failing a class will not keep you from graduating. However, it could affect your chances of attending grad school if you’re interested in continuing your education beyond your undergrad.
In any case, if you fail a class, it’s usually a good idea to retake the class. You can retake a failed class one time, and the grade you earn will replace the failed grade.

How failing a class in college affects your financial aid

It should come as no surprise that financial aid comes with requirements. Grants, loans, and scholarships have certain policies regarding what happens if you fail a class, and some have specific GPA requirements.
So, if you fail a class, you may be responsible for paying back any aid you have received. Make sure you know the consequences, as failing a class might delay your ability to get more aid until you can bring your GPA back up.

Work with your Professor

If you’re having a tough time and notice your grades are starting to slip, reach out to your professor. They have office hours for a reason. And, believe it or not, they want to see you succeed!
Speaking with them may open the door to extra credit opportunities, one-on-one tutoring, or extra help to help you better understand the course material.
Even if there’s nothing they can do, they might provide some guidance on what you could do better if you repeat the course later on.
Either way, it can’t hurt to reach out and see what options they have for you. In some cases, you might find grade discrepancies, which the professor can correct before making their final grade submissions. The difference between a D and an F can mean a lot when it comes to your GPA and the overall impact that could have on your financial aid.


You should also take some time to look and see why you might have failed the class in the first place. Be honest with yourself and think about areas you can improve upon: Did you procrastinate too much on studying and finishing major assignments?

*How many assignments did you turn in late?

*Were you focused too much on your social life instead of your school life?

*Did you get caught up in too much work and lose the ability to balance your school and workload? Or maybe you were involved in too many extracurricular activities?

*Was it just a case of a bad professor or teaching assistant that you should try to avoid in the future?

Talk to your family

The last thing to do is to tell your family. They might not have any real legal rights to know your college grade status, but it doesn’t hurt to keep them informed. It’s one less thing to stress about if you are honest with your family, and one thing you don’t have to worry about coming up as a surprise later on.
They may even offer some support and experience on how to avoid this in the future.
Remember, you aren’t the first student to fail a class, and you won’t be the last. If it happens, try to make the most of the situation and find out how you can learn from the experience to avoid letting it happen again. We all make mistakes; it’s how we learn from those mistakes and pick ourselves back up that makes us successful.