College demands a lot of you and can be challenging. Classes are demanding, and there are high hopes for your achievement. But what happens if you fail a class in college?  

There may be times when you struggle and fail a class despite your best efforts. The idea of failing a class in college might be tough to handle. 

But what do you do if that should happen? In this article, we’ll discuss what happens when you fail a class in college. 

We’ll talk about the outcomes, strategies for improving, and ways to avoid failing a college course.

Let’s begin. 

What Happens If You Fail a Class in College? 

A mark of less than 60% means failure in most colleges. This could be equivalent to a grade point value (GPA) of less than 1.0 or 0.7, depending on the method used by your college.

Your GPA may suffer if you fail a class because it’ll appear as a zero on your transcript. Even though some universities don’t take pass or fail courses into account, failing classes impact your GPA.

Even though the class won’t count toward your degree, you’ll still need to pay for it if you obtain a failing grade. 

Failed classes also don’t count toward graduation requirements. Even a “D” may not be sufficient to meet these requirements in some majors.

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Consequences of Failing a Class in College

You need to know why you failed because you can change things if they are in your control. Here’s what you need to know: 

Retaking the Course

You’ll have to retake any required classes if you fail one of them for your major. However, regarding retakes, several universities have their policies. 

Some schools may restrict a class’s maximum number of retakes. Additionally, some universities combine the scores when you retake a course, while others allow the new grade to replace the F.

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Your GPA is a number that shows how well you are performing academically. To calculate it, you take the number of classes you’ve taken and divide it by the sum of the letter grades you receive. 

For example, an “A” is worth four, a “B” is worth three, a “C” is worth three, and a “D” is worth one. That means an “F” is a zero, which is a failure. 

But when you divide that class’s value by the total number of courses you’ve taken, it still counts even if you fail it. So, failure can significantly lower your GPA.

GPA Doesn’t Matter If You Plan to Work

Your GPA may not matter much if you intend to begin working as soon as you graduate. However, it’s a major deal if you want to attend graduate school. 

Failing won’t impact your GPA if you choose to take a class with a “pass/fail” or “pass/no pass” option rather than receiving a letter grade. 

However, you’ll have to retake the course. In most cases, you can’t select the “pass/no pass” option if the course is required for your major.

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Potential Dismissal

Due to their intense competition, colleges usually have rules against failing classes. On the stricter end, some schools may ask you to leave if you have repeated failures. 

This can mean that you’re not committed to learning or that your chosen major isn’t a good fit for you.

Financial Aid

Financial aid, including student loans and scholarships, typically contains policies around failing a course. So, you may be required to repay a grant if you are to fail. 

For some grants, maintaining aid eligibility requires a certain GPA. Furthermore, you may lose some of your financial help for the semester if you fail a class.

But, if you pass the class again, you can get your money back. Regarding scholarships, they may be awarded based on merit or be determined by your academic standing and grades. 

If you don’t pass, you risk losing the scholarship and, in certain situations, even having to pay back whatever money you’ve already been awarded.

So, failing a class in college is usually not an option. 

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What to do After Failing a Class in College

Now that we’ve answered the question, “What happens when you fail a class in college?” here’s what you can do if you fail: 

Don’t Let the Failure Get to You

It’s normal to feel like a failure after failing a class, but if you want to go on, you need to keep your actions and your self-worth apart. 

Self-criticism is pointless and will simply worsen your feelings. Recall that you are not a failure because you failed a class. 

Instead, it’s an unfortunate incident that has passed. All you can do is promise yourself to improve in the future. 

Seek Support

The college years can be difficult, so feel free to ask for assistance when needed. 

Speaking with your college counselor might offer options such as joining study groups, organizations, and more to help you deal with the psychological effects of failing a class. 

To learn from their experiences of getting a failing grade, you can also speak with your parents and friends. Additionally, for more specialized assistance, consider exploring online resources like, which offer writing services that could be particularly useful if you’re struggling with academic writing tasks.

Remember that you don’t have to handle things alone and that it can be helpful to share the load.

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Plan to Retake the Class

You should schedule a class retake as soon as possible if you’ve discovered the one you failed is necessary for your major. In this case, your advisor is your best resource. 

They can help you arrange classes so that you can succeed when you retake the course. Your advisor can also help you find out when the class is available.

If at all feasible, think about retaking the course in the summer. Since you’ll focus only on one class at a time, this can boost your chances of success.

Plus, there are usually fewer extracurricular distractions during the summer than during the regular semester, which can also help you improve your chances of winning. 

Consider a Different Major

Ideally, you’ll retake the course and continue your progress. But failing a class occasionally means you need to make significant changes. 

It can be discouraging to learn that a particular subject isn’t your strong suit, but it’s preferable to discover this in college rather than after beginning a job. 

Seek advice from your adviser and degree audit to investigate alternative majors with higher success rates.

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Review College Policies

There are policies governing failing grades that are specific to each college and sometimes even departmental within the same college. Investigate these policies to learn about your possibilities.

Find out if your general education requirements may be satisfied with a D. Investigate your school’s policy to see if you can drop out of class and get passing/failing grades. 

If you’re failing a course and can’t raise your grade, you may be able to withdraw from the class or switch to pass/fail grading to preserve your GPA.

You may have to consider withdrawing for the semester if you need help in multiple classes.


Now, you know what happens if you fail a class in college. This can help you make an informed decision. It’s crucial to remember that, despite how devastating it may feel, failing a college course is not the end of the world. 

You can learn more effective study methods, build a solid support system, and identify your actual priorities by failing a class. 

It’s an opportunity to recognize your fortitude and capacity to triumph over any obstacle.

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