President Roosevelt signs the GI Bill
General Military Questions

What Happens If I Fail a Class with the GI Bill?

One of the many benefits afforded to service members is access to the GI Bill to help pay for tuition costs.

However, many student veterans wonder what happens with the GI Bill if failing a class.

Grades are a common worry because life has a way of getting in the way of academic progress.

Fortunately, as long as you know the details, you have options to push ahead and realize your academic success.

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Can I Fail a Class While Using My GI Bill?

The GI Bill helps veterans attend college

Despite struggling with a class and the anxiety that follows, you can fail a class and still maintain your GI Bill benefits.

However, there are a few decisions to make and conversations with the administration to help you decide the next steps.

GI Bill Fail Class: Academic Standing

You should first evaluate your academic standing.

If you are generally doing well but had a rough semester or took a challenging class, your situation is not dire.

You might decide to retake the class to better your overall GPA.

If your academic standing is in rough shape, you want to talk to your academic advisor to avoid academic probation.

Academic probation could result in removal from your degree plan. However, the more proactive you are, the better your chances of finding options.

Remember, your academic advisors are there to help you find success.

GI Bill Fail Class: Dropping a Class

Another option you have is dropping your class as long as you are within the drop/add phase of the academic semester.

If you drop your class early enough, you can focus your efforts on your other courses and maintain your GPA.

GI Bill Fail Class: Staying in the Class

If you are not worried about academic probation if you fail a class, consider using all educational resources available to pass the course.

For instance, your first conversation might be with the professor or Teacher Assistant (TA) to find out if there are tutorial classes or groups to help. Often universities have support classes to help students.

Also, if you are a veteran and qualify for the GI Bill, you have access to tutorial assistance.

To qualify for tutorial assistance, you need only to take a course you need for your educational program, and the course must be difficult.

You receive money to pay for a tutor after qualifying. All you need is cooperation from your professor and a tutor.

If you stay in the class and still fail, you do not have to pay the GI Bill funds back for the class. However, your GPA could take a hit until you retake the course.

It is still ideal to talk to your School Certifying Official to discuss options.

GI Bill Fail Class: What Is a Punitive Grade?

A punitive grade is a grade you earn from earning a grade too low to count towards your degree requirements.

Therefore, the grade is a negative reflection of the work you put into the course.

However, you can retake the class to earn a higher grade to meet the expectations of your degree plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

the GI Bill makes college possible for soldiers

We answer some common questions regarding the GI Bill below.

What does is it mean to become certified for my GI Bill?

If you have the GI Bill benefits, you work with your school to verify your benefits.

Colleges have a School Certifying Official (SCO) that represents the school and has the training to certify enrollment with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The SCO works with you to maintain your school records and helps you ensure the courses you take are relevant to your degree plan.

Also, the SCO helps you keep up with your progress through your program and help you find resources to maintain your grades.

Your SCO helps you apply for your benefits and makes sure you know of the resources you have available.

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Do I have to pay back my GI bill if I fail a class?

No, you do not have to pay back the GI Bill if you fail a class as long as you stay in and attend the class through the end of the semester.

Do I have to pay back my GI bill if I drop a class?

If you decide to drop a class because you are in danger of failing, you might find you lose your status as a full-time student.

Typically, for an undergrad, full-time is 12 credits. Twelve credits are four classes, so if you drop one, you lose your full-time status.

However, if you are taking 15 credits and drop one class, you are still a full-time student.

If you drop to part-time student status, you might have to pay your GI Bill benefits back. This scenario is especially true if your GI Bill is Post-9/11.

However, remember, dropping a class might still be the best decision to maintain your GPA or avoid academic probation, even if you have to pay back some funds.

However, discuss this situation with your School Certifying Official to help you work out the best course of action. The Certifying Official’s interest is to help you on your path to success.

What counts as a failing grade for the GI Bill?

The GI Bill looks to the university’s standards for passing to make this judgment call.

For instance, if you are taking a class and need a ‘C” to pass the class, but you make a couple of points short of that grade, it is considered a failed class.

You can, however, retake the class.

Can I take any classes I wish and still receive the GI Bill?

Your classes must be relevant to your degree program.

You have the autonomy to decide your elective courses, however.


College is tough, and there are times you might wonder about what happens to your GI Bill if you fail a class.

You will not lose your benefits if you fail a class. Also, you will not have to repay the portion of the GI Bill if you stay in the class until the end of the semester.

You have resources if you find you are in a challenging class.

For instance, you have access to a tutor through your VA Benefits.

Also, the university likely has a study or tutorial program within your department, as well.

Ideally, you stay in contact with your SCO, professors, and academic advisors because they can help you navigate difficult classes.


Rob V.
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What happens if you fail a class on the GI bill? The answer to that is, it depends on several factors. Find out what those factors are, as well as what you can do about it.

Originally posted on June 14, 2021 @ 3:55 pm

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