College is challenging and it's common to encounter a rough semester. Students attending college may even find themselves needing to drop one of their courses. The problem is that dropping classes can often negatively affect your grades, and your GPA affects your financial aid status. Most colleges and universities require students to maintain a minimum GPA, though that minimum varies by school, and losing it can result in a loss of financial aid. Dropping below 12 credits will affect your financial aid, and the key is knowing how much you may lose. It is highly advisable to speak to an advisor before dropping a class to verify your university’s policy.

Withdraw From Class Early

Withdraw from the class as early as possible. Most colleges allow you to drop classes without a penalty within the first week or two of classes. Schools recognize that a class may not be the right fit once you start, so you should drop it at the beginning of the semester. You may even be able to add a class to replace the lost credits.

Dropping Classes with Financial Aid

Drop the class within the withdraw period. The first deadline to drop classes has no penalties. The second deadline is referred to as a withdraw date and may fall four to 12 weeks into the semester. A withdraw will show up on your transcript and can affect your financial aid, but won’t be as drastic as a later drop that results in a failing grade for the class. Dropping classes with financial aid in the balance, may result in having to pay back part of the loan that you received.

File An Appeal

File an appeal. If you had a sickness, family emergency or some other verifiable major issue, you can appeal and possibly have your financial aid status reinstated. Each college has different appeal rules. The more documentation you have to prove that you are worthy of an appeal, the more likely you are to get it. A health-related appeal needs to be for a serious condition, long hospital or rehabilitation period or a similar problem. A cold that carried on for several weeks is unlikely to have a successful appeal. A death in the family may qualify for an appeal, but must usually be an immediate family member. Dropping classes with financial aid means that you have to know your rights, in order to be able to file a successful appeal.


Talk to your professor and advisor before dropping a class after the deadline. Many professors are happy to try and work out a solution. At the very least, you will know there were no other options.

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