Can I Lose My Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits for Failing a Class?

Q: I am currently receiving the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I'm having one of the toughest times with this class that I am taking at Kansas State University. The bottom line is, there is no chance of me passing this class this semester. What is going to happen in the event I fail this class? I have heard that I will have to pay back my benefits for that class that I fail; I have also heard that I will no longer be eligible for GI Bill benefits. Which of these is true? Can you please shed some light on this subject? Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

A: Actually, both can be true, up to a point. When you fail a class, whether you end up paying the VA back for that class or not depends on why you failed. If there were some circumstances beyond your control, you might not have to pay back anything. If you do, it would only be tuition and fees and not your Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance.

As far as not being eligible for future GI Bill benefits because of failing a class, that is not true.  Those benefits are yours and nobody can take them away.  What can happen though, is the VA can suspend future payments until they are convinced whatever caused you to fail has been corrected.

To continue receiving Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, the VA dictates "you must maintain satisfactory attendance, conduct, and progress". If you fail a class, you are not making satisfactory progress as they will stop your benefits, if your school reports unsatisfactory attendance, conduct, or progress.

However, they can resume payments once they are satisfied that whatever caused you to fail has been corrected. They may also determine if the course you failed is suitable to your abilities, aptitudes, and interests. If not, and it is one you need in your degree plan to graduate, they may discuss changing your degree program. They are not going to pay for a class multiple times if you can't pass it, but need it.

The main point is to be proactive.  If you know you are going to fail a course, contact the VA and discuss the reason(s) and your options.  It is better they hear from you first rather than from your certifying official at your school.

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