I'm in a new institution now. I have a young earnest and dedicated student whose grade is so low that even a F is too high to assign to her. I tried to get her to withdraw at midterm, but she refused to do so. So along with the other bad grades I will give to no-show and non-performing students, I am likely to be assigning an earned F to this student. I will feel bad, but not guilty. In a future semester, maybe a different professor with a different pedagogical style will work better for her. I hope so.
At my institution we distinguish between the earned F, which allows them to remain eligible for financial aid, etc and the "FW" which means they didn't come to class or do the work after the official withdrawal date (W), which caused them to fail. The FW is treated like a W for unit counts, financial aid, etc.
Can you do something like that?
My current institution does have an alternative fail-designation for students who never showed up or failed because they stopped coming to class and had many missing grades. For the latter, the instructors are expected to indicate in the electronic grade record the date of last attendance with the "no-show fail" marking, and leave the Registrar and Financial Aid office to figure out what to do with such students. However, I can give no alternative marking to the underperforming student I just described; I have to assign a regular grade, which is likely to be "F" since a respectable "D" seems out of reach. [A miraculous 100% on the cumulative final exam might make a D-grade possible.]
I am currently only a part-time faculty member and have no advisement responsibilities. I instructed the student to speak with her advisor at midterm, but I have no idea about who her advisor is, whether or not the student actually spoke with her advisor, or how the student was advised if she did see her advisor. I am teaching a high-enrollment, high-stakes biology course which creates, in my opinion, an excessively competitive burden for the students. It's making them a little crazy with stress and provokes them to make what I feel are sacrificial academic decisions. No part of my time as an undergraduate or graduate student was as stressfully competitive as what I have been observing in my students over the past academic year.