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Free Tuition for Senior Citizens: It’s Never Too Late to Go to College

It’s never too late to go to college. Whether you have an incomplete degree or have never attended an institution of higher learning, you can do so at any age. Furthering education is a healthy pursuit for older individuals. It builds interest, expands knowledge, and keeps the brain active.

College courses aren’t out of reach, even if you have limited financial means. Many schools provide options for seniors that include discounted or free tuition fees. Take advantage of these programs to complete a lifelong goal or to delve into a subject you find particularly fascinating. No matter what your motivations may be, you can go back to college during your golden years.

Who Is Eligible for a Tuition Waiver?

A tuition waiver is a financial award that covers the cost of tuition. These can be a full or partial credit. A Full waiver means that you can attend for free while a partial will cover some of the cost. There are many reasons a tuition waiver may be awarded. For example, people who were in the military, in the Peace Corps, or are in a minority category may qualify.

Many universities and colleges offer waivers for retirees. The idea is that the school wants to fill its classes with students who are truly interested in the material. Age doesn’t matter because it’s better to teach a full class than one that is mostly empty.

The required minimum age may vary from one school to the next. In some, it may be just 50 years old. In others, it may be 60 or 65. You will need to check with the school you would like to attend to verify the requirements.

Why Go Back to School Now?

When a person reaches senior age, their time as part of the workforce is usually behind them. If that’s the case, then what is the benefit in going back to school now? There are many reasons to enroll in a class. Doing so can have a positive impact on a mature students’ health and wellbeing.

  • Engage the Brain – Brain function is a concern for many aging individuals. College encourages critical thinking, problem solving, and use of memory. All these things can keep the brain stay healthy and reduce cognitive decline.
  • It’s Never Too Late to Grow – It’s never too late to expand your knowledge and grow as a person. College presents new opportunities to learn more about the world and yourself. Personal growth can be fulfilling and satisfying at any age.
  • Meet New People – Seniors can meet new people through their classes. Connect with fellow students and professors. You already share a common interest in the subject you are studying, which is a great ice breaker.
  • Build Confidence and Self-Esteem – Completing assignments, passing tests, and earning degrees are very rewarding. These accomplishments help seniors rediscover their confidence and strengthen their self-esteem.
  • Avoid Feelings of Isolation – Feeling isolated is a serious problem for people as they age. Children start families of their own, old friends become distant, and loved ones can be lost over time. College allows seniors to socialize and overcome feelings of isolation.

What Classes Can Seniors Take?

Schools and community centers provide a long list of class options. If you have an interest in a topic, chances are there is a course that covers it. The choices will vary based on individual institution and location.

For example, if you live in the Phoenix area and are over age 65, then you can attend classes at any of the 10 Maricopa Community College campuses with a 50% discount. The course catalog for the upcoming Fall 2019 semester includes a varied collection of subjects that range from accounting, law, and business to aromatherapy, healthcare, and massage. There are more specific topics as well, like the history of women in America or voice and diction techniques.

Maricopa Community College isn’t the only place offering discounts to senior citizens. Schools across the country have programs in place.  In Texas, schools provide free tuition after age 65 for one class or up to six credit hours per semester. The University of West Florida lists a similar arrangement for state residents that are at least 60 years old.

Seniors can enroll in medical, veterinary, dental, or law school programs with free tuition (excludes laboratory supplies and class fees) at the University of Georgia. You must be a resident of the state and present your birth certificate to prove that you are age 62 or older to qualify.

The University of Minnesota uses the same 62 age minimum requirement. Senior learners can take classes at a rate of $10 per credit at the school.

How Do I Enroll in College Classes?

Every school has a different program with unique benefits, class options, and requirements. It’s best to start with schools in your area since many have a state residency requirement. If you ever worked at a university, then you may be eligible for employee-specific tuition benefits.

There’s a wealth of information available online. You can visit a school’s official website to look for information on tuition discounts for seniors or contact them directly. It will take some research, but it is good practice for your future classroom work.

You can also visit our website to learn more about community activities and other opportunities for senior residents.