You'll get a black mark on your academic record if you flunk a class, but you shouldn't get thrown out of the Pell Grant program. The money is a grant, not a loan, and the government will keep paying it as long as you're eligible for financial aid. You may run into problems if don't show up to class or your grade point average falls off a cliff. Most schools do insist that you're making sufficient academic progress in order to keep your grant.
It's Okay to Fail, It's not Okay to Withdraw
You'll need to achieve 60 percent attendance to keep 100 percent of your financial aid. If you failed because you dropped out — either by withdrawing officially or by not turning up to your classes — then you may run into problems. The school looks at the hours or days you attended versus the hours or days you were scheduled to be in attendance to calculate your overall participation rate. If that figure drops below 60 percent, then you'll have to return a percentage of your Pell Grant. However, you should still receive your grant for the following semester as long as you pay back what you owe.
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Failure May Trigger a Review at Some Schools
Some schools will automatically review your participation percentage if you flunk a class paid for by your Pell Grant. If your school has this policy, then it doesn't matter whether you failed because you didn't put in the effort or you failed for some legitimate reason. The failed class will count as non-attendance and, if that pushes your attendance rate below 60 percent, a portion of the financial aid that you received will need to be sent back to the lender. In this case, speak to the school to understand your options. The college may be able to set up a payment plan if you cannot pay the money back in one go.
Watch Your Grade Point Average
You have to maintain "satisfactory academic progress" to get your Pell Grant. At most schools, this means earning above a 2.0 or 3.0 grade point average, although each school gets to decide what GPA you need to maintain. If you're flunking out, the school will usually make you repeat classes or put you on some type of academic probation until you raise your grades. Fail to improve, and the school may revoke your Pell Grant for the following semester. But you won't have to pay back any grant money you've received so far.
Recovering From a Failing Grade
Getting an "F" will affect your grade point average, but there's time to fix the situation before it impacts your eligibility for financial aid. Your best chance of keeping the Pell Grant is to maintain a "C" average or whatever the passing GPA is for your school. So, if you get a failing grade in one class, you'll need to get an "A" in another class to maintain a "C" average. No school wants to see you fail, so be sure to speak to your instructors for advice on how you can do better next semester.