You never plan to fail a college course, but sometimes it’s hard to get good grades, especially your first year. ​When you fail a few courses, it can affect your grade point average, your next semester schedule and your tentative graduation date.​ Many universities will place you on academic suspension if your GPA drops too low. If you have several failing college classes on your transcript, meeting with your adviser can help you address the situation before it gets too dire but it’s not the end of the world.

Academic Standards

At most colleges and universities, you must carry a minimum GPA to remain a student. College students with low academic performance may be placed under academic watch or on suspension or may even dismissed. ​When you fail a course, it directly impacts your GPA.​ For example, at the University of Pennsylvania, if your GPA falls below 2.0 or you receive more than one F in a single semester, you are placed on academic probation. If your GPA stays below a 2.0 or you continue to fail classes, the university may enforce a mandatory leave of absence. ​Students who fail more than one class in a single semester can be dropped immediately from the university even if they were previously in good standing.

Financial Aid

If you are receiving financial aid, failing a college course can impact your eligibility. ​Most financial aid packages require that you carry a certain GPA and a minimum number of credits.​ To be eligible for the U.S. Department of Education’s Direct Loan Program, for instance, you must be enrolled at least half time, and you must maintain satisfactory academic progress. Two main criteria regarding academic progress are your GPA and failed classes. ​If you fail a few courses, you may no longer have enough credits or the GPA to receive aid.

Retaking Classes

If you have a failed course, most schools allow you to retake the course, but the original failing grade remains on your permanent academic record​. At the University of Wisconsin, if you retake a class and pass it, your two grades are averaged into your GPA. ​On your transcripts, it shows that you took the class multiple times, and both grades will appear​. If you fail the class more than once, this also will appear on your transcripts.

Academic Adviser

Your academic adviser’s role is to facilitate student success and support and guide you through college life. I​f you are failing a few courses, you should meet with your adviser as soon as possible.​ Prior to your meeting, think about what may have caused you to fail your classes. You can talk to your adviser about time management strategies, study skills, campus life and stress. Your adviser may also be able to direct you to a campus tutoring center, especially during final exams and midterm season.


Be aware of any ​GPA requirements​ that your university might have

Start or ​join a study group​ to stay on top of your coursework

Consult an academic advisor​ during enrollment as to not take too challenging courses

Go to the ​financial aid office​ in order to make sure you don’t lose any aid

Community College​ is a good alternative if you are struggling too heavily

Take advantage of ​your professor’s office hours​ in order to get extra help

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