Senior Citizens Can Take College Classes For Free Or Next To Nothing—Here’s How

University of Oregon

When you’re in college as a young person, the whole endeavor can sometimes feel like a race to the finish line.

After all, you’re trying to finish school with as little debt as possible and there’s that whole real-world responsibility of finding a good job afterward.

But what if you didn’t have to worry about all of that? What if classes were free and you didn’t need to find a job when you finished? Sounds nice, right?

Senior Citizens Can Take College Classes For Free (Or Very Little)

That’s what college feels like for many senior citizens and retirees, who are going back to school purely for the sake of learning. At many schools, senior citizens pay a very low administrative fee or nothing at all to attend classes on campus. It’s a perk they can enjoy during their ample free time in retirement.

Taking classes for free or for a very small fee is a huge benefit—tuition and fees for traditional undergraduate students can range from $3,000 to $65,000, depending on the type of school.

Some retirees go back to school to explore a subject they weren’t able to pursue earlier in their lives.

“Like most retirees, I was looking for things to keep busy, and I found it in senior learning,” retiree Stanley Darer told Kiplinger.

Darer worked in finance for 35 years and wanted to explore the liberal arts. He began taking courses at North Carolina State University in ballet and music after he retired.

Programs Around The Country

Here’s a sampling of the deals senior citizens can get at colleges and universities around the country. Contact the school near you to learn more about their programs for senior citizens. Even if they don’t have a specific initiative, most schools will allow senior citizens to audit courses for free (which means you won’t do homework or take tests), so long as there’s space available.

  • The California State University system waives tuition and most other fees for California residents 60 years old or older, according to the school’s website. Senior citizens may not be able to take all of the classes they want, as they’re required to let regular students register first.
  • Senior citizens living near Washington, D.C., can take advantage of Georgetown University’s non-degree auditor program, which allows people over the age of 65 to take undergraduate courses if space is available. The fee for each course is just $50.
  • Tuition is waived for people over the age of 60 at all of Massachusetts’ public colleges and universities, including the University of Massachusetts.
  • Oregon State University allows senior citizens to enroll in courses for a $30 fee. The University of Oregon says there’s no charge to senior citizens who want to study there, unless there’s a special materials fee for the course they select.
  • At the University of Texas, students 65 and older can get free tuition for up to six credit hours. They must submit a copy of their birth certificate to receive this benefit.
  • New Jersey senior citizens can take tuition-free courses on a space-available basis at Rutgers University.


About the Author

Sarah Kuta

Sarah Kuta is an award-winning writer and editor based in Colorado. She writes regularly about how to find deals, save money and find side gigs. Reach her at Learn More.