Most states have a program for senior citizens to take college classes for free. The only states that do not have this program are Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, and South Dakota. However, even in these states, seniors can take classes for a greatly reduced cost at many universities.
Some states, Colorado, Louisiana, and Tennessee, allow people to take advantage of this free tuition at the age of 55. The rest of the states begin free tuition for those between 60 and 65 years old. Some states do charge registration or program fees, but these programs allow senior citizens to take college classes for close to nothing.
The Californian state university system is one of the most popular programs for senior citizens. Although it is typically viewed as a time to relax and take things slow, seniors shouldn't need to fight the stigma of being bored or feeling unneeded in their older age. With years of experience behind them in specific fields, seniors may feel it is time to pursue other passions now that they may have more time to dedicate to their projects.
Many schools throughout the system offer free tuition to encourage them to bring their valuable skills back to the workforce, whether directly or indirectly. Seniors often don't have to worry about grades either, as the schools allow citizens to audit classes without the need for examination or to complete ongoing homework. Regardless, it is still essential for many to practice self-study, as this enhances the effectiveness of the material that you have learned in class.
Each campus under Education Code 89330 must grant waivers to tuition for California residents that are aged 60 or older. Examples of waived fees include applications, tuition, health services, and any other activity related to instructing the student.
The most well-known program for free tuition offered to senior citizens in the state of South Carolina is Clemson University. The South Carolina Code of Laws, specifically Article 5, states that universities that want to offer free tuition to senior citizens can do so with the backing of the state. However, the enrollment process is extremely specific and takes into consideration many documents that need to be submitted to prove that the program is performing well and as intended.
This is more of a continuance than a binary decision, as colleges must provide ongoing support to seniors and always fulfill their reporting requirements. Clemson is popular for providing in-demand free college classes for seniors and learners can choose to either audit a class or earn college credit - depending on what they need the education for. Program approval is granted only on an individual basis, and, of course, it is only offered to South Carolina residents.
The Colorado State University located in Fort Collins, CO allows resident instruction classes on any course that has space available. The senior citizen class visitation policy is offered to those who are aged 55 and over, which is outside the norm, as many states define senior citizens as 60 or even 65 years of age and older. The state of Colorado also defines the term "lifelong learners" as those that wish to stay within the academic stream throughout their lifetime.
Some courses that lifelong learners can enroll in without worrying about tuition are foreign languages, women's studies, and even theater&arts. Although the range of offerings may be more limited than that of other states, it allows a much lower age restriction for those who wish to explore hobbies and other past-times when they age.
Participating Colleges and Details
|Alabama||Yes||60||- Any of the 24 community and technical colleges in the Alabama Community College System, including Calhoun Community College in Decatur (the largest school in the system), - Alabama Technical Institute and Marion Military Institute and University at Montgomery.|
|Alaska||Yes||65||- The University of Alaska|
|Arizona||No||65||- The 10 campuses of Maricopa (County) Community Colleges offer a 50% discount on resident tuition rates. - Seniors must also pay registration and course-specific fees.|
|Arkansas||Yes||60||- Fees are waived at all state-supported colleges, including community colleges.|
|California||Yes||60||- Tuition is waived for all state-supported colleges.|
|Colorado||Yes||55||- At Colorado State University,“lifelong learners” can attend classes for free on a space-available basis, but they must submit Lifetime Learner Class for credits.|
|Connecticut||Yes||62||- University of Connecticut, Connecticut State University and the state’s 12 regional community-technical colleges.|
|Delaware||Yes||60||- University of Delaware, Delaware State University and Delaware Technical and Community College.|
|Florida||Yes||60||- All of Florida’s state universities waive tuition and fees by law for residents older than 60.|
|Georgia||Yes||62||- 31 public colleges and universities in Georgia’s state university system.|
|Hawaii||Yes||60||- University of Hawaii and state community colleges.|
|Idaho||No||60||- The University of Idaho permits Idaho residents age 60 and older to enroll in UoI courses on a space-available basis. - The cost is $20, plus $5 per credit hour. - Boise State University, the College of Southern Idaho, and Lewis-Clark State College also have low-cost tuitions for seniors.|
|Illinois||Yes||65||- University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University, Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University, Illinois State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, and Western Illinois University, as well as all public community colleges. - Seniors must also come from low-income households.|
|Indiana||No||65||- For-credit courses in degree programs at the state’s public universities are offered at 50% of the normal in-state tuition cost—on up to nine credits per semester. - Lab fees, as well as application and registration fees, are the responsibility of the student.|
|Iowa||Yes||65||- Simpson College|
|Kansas||Yes||60||- A variety of colleges and universities allow seniors to audit certain classes for free.|
|Kentucky||Yes||65||- Classes on a space-available basis at the state’s public colleges and universities. - Fees are the responsibility of the student.|
|Louisiana||Yes||55||- Public colleges and universities waive tuition and registration fees. Books, manuals, and other aids to instruction required by any course are half-price.|
|Maine||Yes||65||- The University of Maine college system offers free college tuition for senior, including fees.|
|Maryland||Yes||60||- Residents 60 years of age and retired get their tuition waived at any of the schools for up to three courses per semester. - Fees for application, registration, or other services are waived at some colleges, but not all.|
|Massachusetts||Yes||60||- Public universities and colleges within Massachusetts’ higher education system waive tuition for seniors. - Massachusetts also waives tuition for Native Americans, members of the military, and others).|
|Michigan||Yes||62||- Varies by college. Northern Michigan University offers full tuition scholarships to seniors. - However, off-campus and online courses are excluded. - Other universities may offer free or low-cost tuition for some or all classes and may or may not waive fees.|
|Minnesota||Yes||62||- University of Minnesota and throughout the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. - Students must pay for administrative fees (unless auditing the course) and any materials or service charges tacked onto the courses.|
|Mississippi||Yes||60||- University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University. - Seniors must still go through the normal application process.|
|Missouri||Yes||65||- Seniors are guaranteed under state law a tuition waiver to any state college or university. - Scholarship awardees do not earn college credit for courses taken, and course admittance is on a space-available basis.|
|Montana||Yes||65||- The Montana State University System, including the University of Montana and Montana State University campuses, as well as community colleges.|
|Nebraska||Yes||65||- Chadron State College|
|Nevada||Yes||62||- University of Nevada Las Vegas joins with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute to bring classes on a variety of topics to seniors. - Members may attend as many classes as they like, on a space available basis. - Registration is $90 for the fall or spring semester. Annual memberships are $175.|
|New Hampshire||Yes||65||- Seniors can take two for-credit courses per academic year tuition-free at the University of New Hampshire. - The student is responsible for all other costs for the class, including fees and mandatory class materials. - Enrollment is offered on a space-available basis.|
|New Jersey||Yes||65||- Each public institution of higher education in N.J. may, if they so choose, permit persons of the age of 65 or more years to enroll in regularly scheduled courses without the payment of any tuition charges, provided that available classroom space permits, and provided that tuition-paying students constitute the minimum number required for the course.|
|New Mexico||Yes||65||- Senior Citizens Reduced Tuition Act of 1984. Each of the state’s public, post-secondary degree-granting institutions must grant a tuition reduction to senior citizens [age 65 or older] upon request by the student. - The fee is $5 per credit hour.|
|New York||Yes||60||- Tuition is waived for Empire State residents 60 and older who audit for-credit classes at any of the state’s public colleges and universities. - There are restrictions and fees depending of the collage.|
|North Carolina||Yes||65||- Seniors can, on a space-available basis, audit classes tuition-free at the campuses of the University of North Carolina, as well as the state’s community colleges. Registration fees are waived, too|
|North Dakota||Yes||65||- Varies by school. - Under North Dakota State University's Project 65 policy, people 65+ can audit one course per semester. - Bismarck State College allows seniors to take one course per semester tuition-free if space is available. - At Lake Region State College in Devils Lake, students 65 and older can audit classroom courses on a space-available basis but must pay for fees and mandatory class materials.|
|Ohio||Yes||60||- All of Ohio’s public universities and colleges, including community colleges, allow residents age 60 and older to audit courses tuition-free if space is available.|
|Oklahoma||Yes||65||- Seniors can audit classes at the state’s public colleges and universities tuition-free. Fees are also waived. - Enrollment is offered on a space-available basis.|
|Oregon||Yes||65||- The University of Oregon and Oregon State University allow seinors to audit classes at the state’s public colleges and universities tuition-free, provided there’s space available.|
|Pennsylvania||Yes||60||- Pennsylvania State University offers a Go-60 program, where state residents 60 and up who are retired or work no more than 20 hours a week may take up to six credits per semester, for credit or audit, tuition-free. - Clarion University of Pennsylvania, for example, allows folks 62 and older the ability to audit as many as 12 credits' worth of classes tuition- and fee-free, provided space is available. - Many community colleges in the state also offer free tuition to older students.|
|Rhode Island||Yes||60||- The University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and Community College of Rhode Island all offer tuition waivers to lower-income state residents 60 and older.|
|South Carolina||Yes||60||- According to the law all South Carolina residents 60 and older may attend any state-funded college tuition-free on a space-available basis.|
|South Dakota||No||65||- State residents 65 and older get a 45% discount on tuition at participating state colleges, including campuses of South Dakota State University, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Northern State University, Dakota State University and Black Hills State University.|
|Tennessee||Yes||55||- All state-supported universities and colleges (including community colleges) allow residents 65 and older (and possibly 55 and older if they qualify) to take courses for credit tuition-free. - Any other fees (maintenance, activity or student activity fees) are also waived.|
|Texas||Yes||65||- According to law residents 65 and older can take as many as six credit hours per semester at Texas state-funded colleges and universities.|
|Utah||Yes||62||- According to the law residents 62 and older can enroll in regularly scheduled classes (space permitting) at Utah colleges and universities and are exempt from tuition and other charges.|
|Vermont||Yes||65||- Vermont residents 65 and older can audit tuition-free one course per semester at a college in the Vermont State Colleges System, including Castleton College, Community College of Vermont, Northern Vermont University, and Vermont Technical College.|
|Virginia||Yes||60||- Under Virginia law, "senior citizens" age 60 and over can audit at no cost up to three non-credit courses per term, quarter or semester at any public college or university.|
|Washington||Yes||60||- Washington state law mandates its state and regional universities, state and community colleges, and tech schools to "waive, in whole or in part, the tuition and services and activities fees for students" 60 and older. - This guideline applies to courses for credit.|
|West Virginia||Yes||65||- West Virginia law mandates the state’s public colleges and universities offer citizens age 65 and older to "attend courses at a reduced tuition and fee level." - This rule applies to both for-credit or non-credit courses. - At West Virginia University, students who submit the senior citizens application are admitted as non-degree students and indicate on the form whether they want credit. There is a $5 application fee.|
|Wisconsin||Yes||60||- The University of Wisconsin system of colleges and universities allows residents 60 and older to audit classes tuition-free on a space-available basis.|
|Wyoming||Yes||65||- Wyoming residents 65+ can attend classes at the University of Wyoming on a space-available basis at no cost. - Some of Wyoming’s community colleges also offer special incentives for retirees.|