Do You Have to Pay Back the Post 9/11 GI Bill if You Fail a Class?

The Post-9/11 GI Bill is a great way for veterans and active military members to pay for school. It pays for tuition and fees, gives a monthly housing allowance, and gives money for school supplies and textbooks. This financial assistance helps make earning a degree more affordable.

But what happens if you fail a class while using the Post 9/11 GI Bill? Do you have to pay back the benefits you received for that class?

The short answer is no. Even if you fail a class, you don’t have to pay back Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. The VA considers a failing grade as progress towards graduation.

However, there are some key details to understand regarding failed classes, punitive grades, academic progress, and repayment. Let’s explore the specifics around failing a course with the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Overview of Failing a Class with GI Bill Benefits

First, it’s important to clarify what counts as a failed class A grade of F is clearly failing Grades of D and below are also usually considered failing depending on your school’s policies.

When you fail a class using the GI Bill you receive a “punitive grade.” This means the grade counts against your GPA and academic standing but does not earn any credits towards graduation.

The VA allows you to retake failed courses to improve your GPA or earn a passing grade for credit. You can keep using GI Bill benefits when repeating a failed class.

You only run into repayment issues if you receive a “non-punitive grade” for a class, meaning you get no credit and the grade doesn’t impact your GPA. This occurs if you drop a course too late to get a refund.

Reasons Students Fail Classes

Before diving into the specific GI Bill policies, it helps to understand why students fail courses in the first place. Here are some of the most common reasons for failing a college class:

  • Poor time management and procrastination
  • Lack of motivation or interest in the subject
  • Insufficient background knowledge and skills
  • Overwhelming personal or work responsibilities
  • Health issues or life challenges
  • Ineffective studying and test-taking abilities
  • Mismatched learning styles with the professor
  • Failure to complete assignments or attend lectures

Sometimes failing a class is outside of a student’s control. Other times, it’s due to poor habits. Identifying the root cause can help turn things around.

Key Points About Failing a Class with GI Bill Benefits

Here are the key takeaways to remember about failing a course if using Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits:

  • You do not have to repay tuition, housing allowance, or book stipend payments if you fail a class.

  • A failing grade is considered a “punitive grade” that counts against academic progress.

  • You can retake failed courses using GI Bill benefits until you pass.

  • GI Bill benefits stop if you fail too many classes causing academic probation or suspension.

  • Dropping a course late resulting in a “non-punitive grade” leads to repayment.

  • Communicate with your school’s VA/GI Bill office if failing a class to understand impacts.

As long as you finish the course, you face no financial consequences for failing a class with the GI Bill. Next, let’s look at some scenarios.

Scenarios of Failing a Class with GI Bill Benefits

Consider these examples to understand how failing a course can impact your GI Bill benefits:

Scenario 1: Mike is a full-time freshman using the Post 9/11 GI Bill. He fails his Math 101 class with an F grade. The math class was a required general education course. Since Mike finished the class, his GI Bill payments are unaffected. He can retake Math 101 next semester with no penalty.

Scenario 2: Sarah is a part-time graduate student using GI Bill benefits. She signed up for two evening courses. Due to taking on extra hours at work, she falls behind in one class. Sarah fails the course with a D grade rather than fully dropping out. Her GI Bill payments are not impacted since she received a punitive failing grade.

Scenario 3: Tony is nearing graduation but is struggling in a tough required class for his major. After missing several lectures and assignments, his professor warns that he is likely to fail the course. Tony stops attending class with three weeks left in the semester. He receives a “non-punitive” F grade on his transcript. Since he did not complete the course, Tony now owes repayment of the GI Bill benefits he received for that class.

As you can see, the consequences center around whether you finish the class and receive a punitive (yet failing) grade versus dropping out resulting in a non-punitive grade.

Retaking Failed Classes with GI Bill Benefits

The Post 9/11 GI Bill does not limit how many times you can retake a failed course. The VA realizes students occasionally struggle with certain classes or need multiple attempts to pass difficult subjects.

However, your college may have policies restricting how often you can retake a class. Many schools place students on academic probation if they fail too many courses overall or fail the same class multiple times. Too many failures can even lead to suspension.

While the VA allows retaking failed classes, there are limits:

  • The school must certify you are retaking the course for credit or a better grade.

  • GI Bill benefits are only paid for required courses. You cannot repeat an elective course that you previously failed.

  • There are maximum time limits based on your degree program length.

  • Ongoing failures causing academic probation will result in GI Bill suspension.

Make sure you understand your school policies and VA time limits when repeating failed courses. Communicate with your GI Bill certifying official for guidance.

Steps to Take if You Fail a Class Using GI Bill Benefits

If you do end up failing a class while using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, here are some suggested steps to take:

  • Meet with your academic advisor to discuss the failure and make a plan to retake the course.

  • Consult with the professor to understand where you went wrong and how to improve.

  • Contact the GI Bill office at your school to notify them of the failure and discuss impacts to your benefits.

  • Consider tutoring or study skills assistance to help you succeed when retaking the class.

  • Talk with your school’s mental health or disability services office if personal challenges are affecting your grades.

  • Ask your advisor about a course substitution or waiver if the class is not required for your degree.

  • Make time to meet with classmates and study groups when you repeat the course.

  • Improve your time management skills and utilize reminders/alerts to stay on track with coursework.

With preparation and a plan, you can overcome a failing grade. Learn from the experience and do better the next time.

Options If You Keep Failing Required Classes

Unfortunately, some students end up in a cycle of failing required courses for their degree program, even after retaking them. This can lead to hitting the maximum timeframe limits for GI Bill benefits before earning the degree.

If you fail a class multiple times, explore these options with your advisor:

  • Switch to an easier degree program that still interests you. Some majors are quite challenging.

  • Consider a different degree path better matched to your strengths if you failed major-specific prerequisites.

  • Discuss substituting a different class to meet the requirement you are failing.

  • Change your degree concentration or minor if you are struggling with a certain focus area.

  • Assess whether you selected the right major or if your talents and interests lie elsewhere. Failing key courses related to a major is often a sign it’s not the right fit.

  • Talk to your school about academic renewal or forgiveness policies to restart your GPA after multiple failures if eligible.

Stay in close contact with your school and VA representatives to make informed decisions if facing multiple class failures.

Seek Help to Improve Academic Performance

Don’t be afraid to seek assistance if you are struggling to pass your classes. Your school has resources to help you succeed:

  • Tutoring Services – Many colleges offer free peer tutoring and academic coaching services. The VA can also fund a private tutor.

  • Writing Center – Get help with papers and assignments through writing workshops and feedback.

  • Subject-Specific Labs – Math and science focused tutoring labs provide support with foundational concepts.

  • Online Academic Resources – Schools often have 24/7 online tutoring, writing feedback, practice quizzes, and academic tips.

  • Time Management Training – Learn better time management strategies through counseling services or workshops.

  • Test-Taking Workshops – Counseling services provide guidance on reducing test anxiety and improving study techniques.

  • Disability Services – Get classroom accommodations and assistive technology if a diagnosed disability makes learning harder.

Don’t let pride get in the way of asking for assistance. Using these academic support services can help you successfully complete your classes.

Consider Switching Schools if Problems Persist

In some cases, transferring to a new school provides a fresh start if you’ve

If U Fail A Class Do U Have To Pay Back Post 9 11 Gi Bill

Are you a non-resident using Post 911 GI Bill®?

The Post 911 GI Bill® will only pay for resident tuition. So if you are a non-resident, the Post 911 will only pay the resident portion of your tuition. If you qualified at the 100% rating under the Post 911 GI Bill®, then you will qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program (link to form) which will cover the non-resident portion of your tuition. If you are not at the 100% rating, you will not qualify for Yellow Ribbon and will be required to pay the balance of your tuition not paid by the Post 911 GI Bill®.

Minors and Double Majors

As it stands right now, the VA will not pay for minors unless they are required by your degree or you can complete them within the 122 credits required to graduate. The VA will pay for double majors, you will just need to make sure you get it declared with the University first and then come see us to get it declared with VA.

What happens if I fail a class using the GI Bill? | Fail vs. Withdraw


What happens if I fail a class using post 9 11 GI Bill?

If you failed a required course or did not receive the minimum grade considered “passing” (for example, you received a C- in the course but need a C or better to actually receive credit), the VA will pay for you to repeat the course.

Do you have to pay back post-9/11 GI Bill?

By law, you are responsible for any debt incurred while receiving benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. VA is required by law to recoup any debt.

Do you have to pay back a GI Bill if you drop out?

Your GI Bill payments and Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) are based on your training time. If your withdrawal moves you from one group to another you may have an overpayment with the VA that you must repay. If your withdrawal results in no training time change you can stop reading here, no problems.

What if I fail a class using VR&E?

Repeating Courses: VA allows the school to certify repeated courses if the student fails a course that is required to complete minimum requirements for graduation.

Leave a Comment