FAQ about failing grades

A failing grade is never a good thing, but did you know RCTC has three ways to report a failing grade? Interpreting the grades of F, FN, and FW depends on attendance and withdrawal dates and has big financial and enrollment impacts for the College and the student.

?1. What is the difference between the three grades that RCTC uses to represent failing?

While all three grades have the same academic impact (0 credits earned and 0 GPA points), the FN? and FW? grades additionally provide information about attendance/participation, which is essential for determining students? eligibility for financial aid. The FN? indicates that a student never attended/participated in the class. The FW? grade represents partial attendance and indicates that a student attended at least one time but stopped attending, did not officially withdraw, and therefore fails the course. A grade of F? means the student was in attendance until at least the withdrawal deadline (80% of the course) and failed because he/she did not meet course expectations.

2. How do faculty decide which of the three failing grade options to assign to a student?

These grades are not choices, or decisions that faculty need to make, but rather are completely related to whether or not a student has attended/participated. If a student does not attend even one class session, he/she is assigned the FN? grade automatically once the never-attended box is checked. For a student who stopped attending, the grade of FW? is automatically assigned once the partially-attended box is checked.

3. If a student stopped attending early in the semester, how soon do faculty enter the Last Date of Attendance?

Technically, faculty can enter this at the time of final grades, but this is a situation where sooner is definitely better than later (although later is better than not at all)! Students who never attend their class(es), or who stop attending, may become ineligible for financial aid monies that they have already received, causing them to be in a pay-back situation. The longer the amount of time there is between the disbursement of aid dollars and our ability to notify the student that they are in repayment, the less likely the college is to recover the funding.(The college is required to repay these funds to the Department of Education and then attempt to collect from the students).

Once a student’s lack of attendance means that he/she will not be able to successfully complete the course, the last date of attendance should be reported. Keep in mind that if the student subsequently returns, and if faculty determine there is potential for that student to complete the course, they can choose to rescind the FW grade and allow the student to continue.

6. If non-attendance or partial attendance is not reported, or not reported in a timely manner, what are the implications for the college?

The two largest consequences of not providing attendance data in a timely manner are the financial and enrollment impacts. Currently, the college repays hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to the federal government for students whose lack of attendance results in their ineligibility for funds they have already received. Again, the sooner this is known to the Financial Aid Office, and can be addressed with the student, the better. Additionally, students who are unable to repay these potentially huge sums are also ineligible to register for subsequent semesters because of the outstanding balances, clearly impacting enrollment in a negative way.

If you have any questions regarding this, you can contact Nancy Shumaker in the Registrar’s Office.

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