Free or Cheap College for Seniors in All 50 States
Many people dream of furthering their education even later in life. Tuition waivers for senior citizens are offered in 21 states, and every state has at least one institution where senior residents can attend classes for free or cheap.
While there is no state-mandated tuition waiver in Arizona, a few schools provide opportunities for seniors. All Maricopa Community Colleges offer a 50 percent discount for county residents 65 and older who want to take courses for credit. Senior students are accepted only if spots are available after the first class is held. Cochise College offers half off tuition to residents 60 and older.
At all University of Arkansas campuses, Razorbacks 60 or older pay no tuition to enroll in for-credit classes, although some fees may apply. Senior students can pursue graduate and law degrees in addition to undergraduate work. Some schools, such as Rich Mountain Community College, have special programs designed for students 60 and older.
At the 23 campuses of California State University, state residents 60 and older can enroll in any course as a regular student for $2. San Francisco State University offers an ElderCollege program for students 55 and older that lets students sit in on regular university classes for $55 per semester.
Colorado State University lets seniors 55 and older attend classes for free as a visitor (with the instructor's permission), although not for credit. The University of Northern Colorado admits seniors 65 and older to audit courses with no fee, while the Metro Meritus program at Metropolitan State University of Denver allows seniors over 60 to audit select classes for free.
The College of Southern Idaho offers free, non-credit classes to those 60 and older. Senior scholars in the University of Idaho system pay $5 per credit hour and a $20 enrollment fee for undergraduate courses; no credit is awarded. The same perks apply at Boise State, North Idaho College, and Lewis-Clark State College.
Illinois allows any eligible senior citizen 65 and older registered in the University of Illinois system to take for-credit classes tuition-free. Residents 62 and older can audit classes for a small fee. Some schools, such as Chicago State University, offer a tuition waiver to senior residents with income no greater than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
Seniors 60 and older can get tuition waived at public institutions. At the Lawrence and Edwards campuses of the University of Kansas, the waiver applies to non-degree-seeking students for up to six hours of classes per semester in either the undergraduate or graduate divisions. Other institutions where this waiver applies are Wichita State University, Washburn University, Emporia State, and Fort Hays State.
Senior citizens 65 and older can enroll in any public institution of higher learning tuition-free. The University of Kentucky's Donovan Fellowship for Academic Scholars applies this waiver to both audited and for-credit classes, as long as students meet admissions requirements and space is available.
Seniors 55 and older get free tuition at any public college or university and a 50 percent discount on books. Louisiana Tech offers a couple of examples showing that one undergraduate or graduate course per quarter would cost only about $45 to 60 in fees, compared with $871 to $1003 without the waiver.
There is no mandated tuition waiver for Michigan seniors, but some schools offer one. Western Michigan University's Senior Citizens Opportunity Program in Education grants residents 62 and older tuition-free enrollment in one class per semester (not for credit). Michigan Tech waives tuition and related fees for up to two courses per semester for students 60 and older.
Mississippi State University offers a tuition waiver for retirees 60 and older for two on-campus courses per semester. Senior students are limited to six semester hours per semester with a maximum of 18 hours for the year at the Starkville or Meridian campuses or the Center for Distance Education. The University of Mississippi has a Lifelong Learning program for seniors 65 and older that covers one course per semester for free.
All state-supported institutions waive tuition for students 65 and older, but different schools have different rules. Missouri State University-West Plains allows state residents 62 and older to take up to 24 credits of coursework for free but not for credit. At the University of Missouri-St Louis, they may audit a course for a $25 registration fee.
At Chadron State College, residents 65 and older can audit one class per semester without paying tuition. Seniors 62 and older can register for credited classes at Mid-Plains Community College for 35 percent off the regular tuition. Metropolitan Community College in Omaha gives residents and non-residents 62 and older a discount of about half off for-credit classes. A tuition waiver for seniors 55 and older applies at Nebraska Indian Community College.
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas is home to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, where members can take as many classes as they like, in topics ranging from cellphone photography to Indian history, for a $150 annual fee. Additionally, seniors 62 and older can attend in the summer at 50 percent off normal tuition fees.
Tuition waivers are mandated for residents 65 and older at any state institution. Rutgers has an auditing program that is free for seniors 62 and older in Camden, Newark, and New Brunswick during the fall and spring semesters. At the private Seton Hall University, seniors 65 and older may take selected classes during the summer for a reduced rate of $50 for audited classes and $100 for credit-bearing classes.
A state program is set to offer free tuition to families with income up to $125,000, and senior students have other options in the meantime, including discounted course auditing at many SUNY schools. Fordham University's College at 60 program offers non-credit seminars and free lecture series for adults over 60, with an option to matriculate into a degree program at 50 percent tuition. Cornell University has a summer program that lets seniors 60 and older attend class without earning credit for 10 percent of the usual fee.
North Dakota's State Board of Higher Education provides for a senior citizen tuition waiver at each institution's discretion. Bismarck State College offers students 65 and older a tuition waiver for one audited course per semester. Seniors 65 and older may audit classes tuition-free at Lake Region State College, as well, and Williston State College waives tuition for the same age group.
Tuition is waived for residents 65 and older who want to audit classes at all Oklahoma state colleges and universities.
Tuition waivers vary by school. Penn State offers a limited number of classes for credit or audit for free to students 60 and older. Clarion University waives tuition for state residents 62 and older auditing classes, and the University of Pennsylvania allows those 65 and over to audit classes for free.
The pubic institutions of Rhode Island waive tuition for residents 60 and over, who must submit tax forms to show eligibility. If senior students want to take classes for credit, they must submit a financial aid form, as well. At Rhode Island School of Design, senior citizens 65 and older get a tuition discount.
By state mandate, residents 60 and older can take classes for credit or audit at any public institution of higher learning without paying tuition if they are not employed full-time. Some schools, such as Clemson University, Coastal Carolina University, and University of South Carolina Aiken, have programs specifically geared to seniors.
Vermont recently eliminated free tuition for senior citizens, but there are still discounts. Beginning in fall 2017, students 60 and older can take classes for credit at half price. At private Marlboro College, seniors 65 and older can arrange with the Dean of Faculty and the instructor to audit one class per semester at no charge.
At public colleges and universities, residents 60 and older can take up to two courses per semester for $5 per class. This discount applies to classes taken for credit as well as auditing. Not all classes are subject to the waiver, and people taking intensive summer language courses are obligated to pay a third of the tuition cost.