Seniors enjoy discounts for just about everything. Did you know that can even include the cost of higher education?
Some schools think it’s a smart idea. Whether through a state-supported program or school-based initiatives, there are plenty of opportunities to learn — and earn credit toward a degree — without the burden of crippling student loans.
The following colleges currently offer tuition-free, credit-bearing courses for students in their golden years. Admission to classes is likely to depend on whether space is available. Consider this your chance to advance a career, change direction or finish a degree you started many moons ago.
1. University of Alaska
Not everyone wants to retire to Florida. Those who prefer spending their post-career years in a colder climate might want to consider the Last Frontier State.
At the University of Alaska, which comprises three universities on a system of campuses across the state, residents who are eligible for full Social Security retirement benefits — those who have reached what is technically known as “full retirement age” — are entitled to free tuition.
You must submit a tuition waiver request form before tuition payments can be made. The waiver is valid for “regular tuition,” which the school defines as “the base institutional charge for enrollment in a course offered for credit at the university.”
Earning college credit has never been cooler.
2. University of Arkansas
The University of Arkansas offers its local silver foxes the opportunity to become “Senior Razorbacks.” (The razorback, the university mascot, is a feral hog known for its “tenacious, wild fighting ability.”)
You must be a resident of Arkansas, at least 60 years of age and hold a high school diploma or GED.
As other degree-seeking college students, you’ll need to apply to the university as either an undergraduate or graduate student. Start by filling out the Senior Citizen Fee Waiver and then follow the step-by-step application instructions. Note that some non-tuition fees apply, including application fees, textbooks and supplies.
Even when tuition is free, there are things that older college students should consider. Read “5 Things to Weigh Before Going Back to School After Age 50.”
3. Clemson University
Clemson University waives tuition costs for qualifying seniors.
If you are at least 60 years old, a resident of South Carolina and not employed full-time, you are eligible for Senior Citizen Enrollment at the university.
You can either audit classes or enroll for credit in classes where space is available. The best part is, there’s no limit to the number of credit hours you can take.
4. University of Connecticut
State law requires the University of Connecticut to waive tuition costs for older students. To be eligible, you must be a resident of the state, admitted to the university and 62 years of age before starting classes.
Eligible students must be enrolled in a degree-granting program. You cannot receive a tuition waiver for a graduate certificate program or for extension courses.
5. University of Delaware
The University of Delaware’s Over-60 Tuition-Free Degree program encourages any Delaware resident aged 60 or older the opportunity to further their education. SAT scores are not required, but you do need a high school diploma or the equivalent.
You can apply online to the university. Once accepted, eligible seniors can seek an undergraduate or graduate degree free of charge.
You are, however, responsible for the cost of textbooks, service fees and dining on campus. Your course registration depends on whether space is available in the classes you want.
6. Georgia Tech
If you have your heart set on earning a master’s degree, you might want to move to Georgia.
The University System of Georgia sponsors a program that opens Georgia Tech’s graduate-level courses to seniors. You must be able to prove that you are at least 62 years of age, a resident of Georgia and legally in the United States.
The Georgia Tech program was designed for students seeking a graduate degree or “special non-degree seeking” students. Undergraduate coursework is available, as well.
7. University of Illinois
Love the Windy City but prefer to settle in the suburbs?
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a pioneer in research, offers nearly 5,000 courses in more than 150 undergraduate programs alone.
If you are 65 or older and a resident of Illinois, you can apply free of charge if your annual household income is below a certain threshold. It is necessary to apply and be accepted to attend the university.
If you meet these criteria, the Senior Citizen Courses Act Tuition Waiver can allow you to earn undergraduate- and graduate-level credit tuition-free.
Fees and other non-tuition charges are not covered by the waiver. Extramural and correspondence courses aren’t available through the program.
8. University of Kentucky
Cheering for the Wildcats means so much more when you’re a student at the University of Kentucky.
That’s what makes the Donovan Fellowship tuition waiver extra-special. It is only available for adults age 65 and up taking academic classes.
Other than age and the availability of space in classes, the tuition program is fairly flexible. As a Donovan Fellow, you can audit classes without earning credit. Or, you can earn credit even not working toward a degree. Or, take courses as a degree-seeking student. It’s up to you.
If you’re working toward a degree you’ll need to be accepted for admission to the university. But there are no educational requirements to audit undergraduate academic classes.
9. University of Maryland at College Park
Through the Golden ID Card Program, the University of Maryland at College Park waives tuition for students 60 years of age and older. Some other fees apply, however.
A few stipulations: You must be a resident of Maryland, a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident and you must be retired (defined as “not engaged in gainful employment for more than 20 hours a week”).
If you meet the university’s admission requirements and space is available, you may register for credit-bearing courses.
The program allows Golden ID Program participants to take up to seven undergraduate credits or six graduate-level courses per semester.
10. Penn State at University Park
Penn State’s GO-60 program is an opportunity open to retired adults age 60 and above who live in Pennsylvania. They must be residents of Pennsylvania and employed no more than 20 hours per week.
A limited number of GO-60 spots are available. When accepted, you may take undergraduate-level, tuition-free GO-60 courses for credit, or you can choose to audit them (not for credit). Other fees may apply.
What free college courses for seniors do you dream of taking? Tell us in a comment below or at Money Talks News on Facebook.
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