It is often said that it is never too late to earn an education. But in this case, it really is never too late. In fact, going to college later in life isn’t just a viable option to be considered, in many cases attending school after retirement can be accomplished absolutely free. What most people don’t realize is that at a growing number of colleges and universities around the country senior citizens are not just welcome to attend college classes but they can do so by paying no tuition whatsoever. Tuition waiver programs for senior citizens have become prevalent in recent years. Almost all states have some form of tuition waiver for seniors to attend college courses. Around 60% of accredited schools now offer a program for seniors to attend their schools. So if you are a senior interested in earning a college degree or simply want to audit some courses on subjects that interest you, the likelihood is that there is a school in your area that will allow you to do so without having to pay for tuition.
Now in all cases you will still have to pony up for books and fees. Sorry, seniors, there is no tuition waiver program that covers those extra costs. And senior waiver programs vary greatly from school to school. Some are open to any state resident over the age of 60 while other schools don’t provide waivers until a senior is age 62 to 65. Some schools will allow for seniors to earn degrees while others merely allow seniors to audit classes when space is available. In case you are unfamiliar with it, auditing a class allows you to attend class, contribute to classroom discussion and take in the overall learning experience. But those taking classes on audit do not take tests, turn in class projects, receive grades or earn college credit.
If you are a senior interested in furthering your education, you should start by contacting all schools in your local area to see if they offer a tuition waiver program and to find out specifics of how they work. Just like anyone else attending college, you will have to apply for school by certain deadlines and be accepted as a student. I would suggest contacting the admissions or financial aid office of the schools in your area to find out about any tuition waiver program they offer for seniors and how to go about applying to attend school through one of these programs. Here are a few examples of senior tuition waiver programs and how they work on each of these college campuses.
Penn State’s Go-60 Program
Through partnership with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Penn State not only welcomes seniors to its campus but offers an entire program. The Go-60 program allows for any Pennsylvania resident age 60 or older to take college courses for credit or audit completely tuition-free. To participate in the program you only have to apply at the Penn State Continuing Education office and get your Go-60 card. You must also either be fully retired or only work part-time. You can only take classes when space is available but you will be notified by phone at least two days before classes start to confirm that you can attend each course you signed up for.
St. Mary’s Senior Citizen Tuition Waiver
At St. Mary’s, you also only need to be 60 years old to receive a tuition waiver. The college does require seniors to either be retired or working only part-time to apply for a waiver. They then allow you to take up to 3 classes per semester on a space available basis. In most cases this will require waiting until the late registration period to begin attending classes. The waiver is good for tuition only. You will still need to pay registration, parking, lab, faculty and other fees.
University of Montana Senior Citizen Tuition Waiver
University of Montana does not offer its tuition waiver to seniors until they have reached age 65, but it has no further requirements such as income eligibility. The program is only open to Montana residents. Other than that, simply fill out the Senior Citizen Tuition Waiver Application and return it to the University’s financial aid office to get started.