More schools offering financial aid for retirees and senior citizens

August 6th, 2010 by Alexis

senior citizens going back to schoolAs the baby boomer population slowly drifts into retirement, more and more of these retirees are heading back to college to upgrade their job skills and educational background.  Unbeknownst to some, many colleges and universities are now offering scholarships for seniors so they can enroll in a course at a cheap cost, or at no cost at all.

Depending on the college or the university, senior citizens can apply for tuition waivers or discounts, or enroll in continuing education classes which last anywhere from four to eight weeks. Some schools allow senior citizens to audit a class for free, (meaning they can attend a lecture but they do not have to complete any assignments). In order to qualify, a senior citizen may be required to provide proof of age, state residency, retirement documentation, bank statements, or their high school diploma.

According to a survey conducted by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), approximately 84 percent of community colleges in the U.S. offer courses for students aged 50 and older. States that currently offer tuition waivers for some of their public colleges are: Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont and Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

The GO-60 Program at Penn State University offers free tuition to those who are 60 years and older. In order to qualify for the program the applicant must be a Pennsylvania resident who is retired or working part-time, or a former Penn State alumni or employee.

At Northern Michigan University, Michigan residents who are 62 or older can apply for free tuition through the Senior Citizen Scholarship Program. However, applicants are still required to pay the student discretionary activity fee which costs $30.26, and the program does not apply to online courses.

The University of Delaware has an Over-60 Tuition Free Degree Program which offers free tuition to Delaware residents aged 60 and over. Seniors who are currently taking classes as Continuing Education students are not eligible for the program, and the applicants still have to pay for late registration charges, fees, and textbook costs.

The Prime Timers Program at Georgia Perimeter College allows those who are aged 62 or older to complete an associate degree program for no cost at all, however they are required to pay for their own textbooks as well as various activity, technology, athletic and student support fees.

Over 3,000 senior citizens have already applied for the Senior Citizen Tuition Waiver at the University of Connecticut, Connecticut State University, or at one of the 12 community colleges. In order to qualify the applicant must be a Connecticut resident and aged 62 or older.

The Evergreen Program at Boston University allows those who are 58 and over to audit undergraduate classes for $100 per course or attend “special seminars” taught by the university faculty.

Last year as part of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, a senior scholarship program was created to help support those who are 55 or older get funding for their education. The program awards $1,000 to a senior citizen who volunteers more than 350 hours out of the year, and they can choose to use the money for their child’s, grandchild’s, or foster child’s education.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes (OLLI) currently offer 93 non-credit senior citizen programs which can cost anywhere from $25 to $450. Seniors can enroll in a course at any of the 118 participating colleges and universities, some of which include the University of South Dakota, San Diego State University, Texas Tech University, and Florida International University. (To find the one closest to you click here).

These are just some of the many programs that are available for seniors who are interested in applying for tuition discounts or scholarships. Because many colleges and universities generally do not publicize these opportunities, senior citizens are encouraged to call their local college or university to see if they are eligible for any scholarships or tuition waivers.

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    We administer an AmeriCorps program at our university and it’s been an intergenerational corps for the past three years, with 1/3 our population being baby boomers. They receive an educational award after completing their term of service and it’s exciting to see more seniors continuing their education.

    I found your blog from the SA Blog Directory! I hope you will check out my blog – Diary of a Student Development Professional – and leave a comment at
    I look forward to meeting you!

    By SD Blogger on August 8th, 2010

    College is something that must be earned. Remember that, the better educated our citizens the more economically our country can develop and dominate the rest of the world. We have laggard in our education practices and let other countries pump out smarter and richer citizens. The people make the country. I worked and paid for my own school with some help from local funds. Did my own research and applied locally for pell grants. I have since used that wisely to secure a great paying job. is a great site for information on how to apply and where to apply for pell grants, scholarships, and loans.

    By daydreamer on September 6th, 2010

    I am a 60 year old person with an AA degree and would like to get my B.A. My husband lost his job in January, and I teach guitar lessons from home for income. I live in Northern Illinois.
    Please give me information on Free and/or Waived Tuition for Senior Citizens. Thank you.
    Peggy DeSousa

    By Peggy DeSousa on October 16th, 2010

    I am 60 years old. I have an associates degree from 10 years ago.
    I would like to earn a B.S. degree at Stockton College in New Jersey,but cannot afford to pay tuition. I heard about a program called SAGE, where NJ residents can have tuition waived if they are 60 years or older, but could not find any information on line. Please help. Thank you

    By Linda Punzo on November 15th, 2010

    I live in Kansas City, KS., but I am attending an online school, Colorado Technical University, in Colorado Springs, Co. I am 72 years old and working part-time. I am also on Social Security. I would like to know if I can qualify for a Senior Scholarship, or how do I go about finding if I do qualifyt. I am currently working toward an Associates Degree in Medical Coding & Billing. Could you please advise how I can find out if I qualify for a scholarship or receive free (waived) tuition for my schooling. Thank you for your help.

    By: Nancy L. Smith on December 5, 2010

    By Nancy L. Smith on December 6th, 2010

    Hello, I’m 59yrs old, I would like to return to school to get a degree, when I left 8 yrs ago from school and work because of a medical problem: I was short 20 hrs to finish a degree program. I would like to continue my education but am lacking the funds. I would like to know if Texas (I live in south texas a town along the boarder) has a program that waivers tuition cost. I would appreciate any help or information you could provide me.Thank You

    By Dora Salazar on December 23rd, 2010

    I am very interested in attending college after leaving school in 1971. I have just a few credits so I would probably have to start over. I am particularly interested in a culinary arts degree. I am 59 years and will be 60 in May 2011. Please send information. Thanks, Janet

    By Janet Dunn on January 18th, 2011

    1 am interested in pursuing my PH.D. I am semi-retire and will need to continue to collect addtional funds to support myself. Interested in on-line courses. My home state is Georgia, but currently living in Las Vegas

    By Charly Trimble on February 24th, 2011

    I am 61 and will be 62 in October. I currently have an Associates Degree and recently attended Northwest University and received 15 additional credits and a certification in Ministry and Leadership. I would like to get my BS, but I am concerned about the possible $30K it would take to complete and pay for in my retirement years. Are there any 4 year colleges in Washington State that offer discounts or a Senior Tuition Waiver?
    Sharon Alston

    By Sharon Alston on April 3rd, 2011

    I am retiring from teaching this year and would like to return to school. I am a little nervous about attending classes with the average aged student since the new teachers at work called attention to my “age” and the fact that I should “retire” soon. Which I did. Would it be different in another state? Or would I be fooling myself if I moved to a state like Maryland who offers waivers for those over sixty. I live in New York, right now, but my sister would like me to move closer to her in Maryland.

    By Claire Gibbons on May 5th, 2011

    My father is a retired military officer whose looking to go back to school in Arkansas. If you can send me any information about schools in our state who offer tuition wavers for seniors, we would appreciate it. Thanks in advance!

    By Lucille Morgan on July 21st, 2011

    I am a senior citizen with certifications in legal studies as well as completion of an Administration Assistance program. I suffer from a physical disability caused by a near fatal vehicular accident. I am interested in obtaining and would like to get my Education.

    I live in Southern California near two major Universities: USC and UCLA.
    Please provide me with information on Free and/or Waived Tuition for Senior Citizens. Thank you.

    Beth Mosley – October 15, 2011

    By Beth Mosley on October 15th, 2011

    I am 65 year old woman & unemployed currently after working in acctg/admin for 16 years. I have an AA degree in business and would like to pursue a bachelors in Accounting.

    I live in Calif. Are there any opportunities for free tuition, grants or scholarships here that would be available to me. I live in the greater bay area of Northern Calif.

    By Diana Lentz on September 19th, 2012

    I am 64 years old and am currently living in Colorado. I have done research and found an online school to learn how to do Medical billing and coding. I wanted to find out if there was some way I could get some sort of a discount or some help to defray the repayment of a loan until one month after I finish and start working. I also need some help to support myself while I am going to school. I receive Social Security, but it isn’t very much at all. What I would need is about $500 more a month just to survive. I could work, but am having problems finding a job. My physical situation doesn’t allow me to work in many places. That is why I want to study online and will be able to work online when I finish my school. Thank you for any assistance you may be able to provide me with.

    By Mollie Espinosa on September 19th, 2012

    I could not complete my Ph.D. Degree in Women & Development after four year’s course work. Subsequently I did a research project in Five College Women Studies Center, Mountholyoke, South Hadly on women in garment sector in Asia. Recently I was involved in a social audit involving women workers in garment sector and has jointly authored an article on Social Auditing. I have also developed an Adult Education Programme for illiterate garment factory women workers working in Jordan.

    I retired from Indian Institute of Management Bangalore as a Senior Executive from the Centre for Corporate Governance and Social Responsibility. My work included research and providing executive administrative support for running various programmes on Corporate Social Responsibility.

    I am now keen on doing a full time Ph.D. Programme in Corporate Social Responsibility. I have done my Masters in Economics from India. How can I realise my dream of studying in US? I have an annual income of US$6000 plus I have worked for Senior Professors in India as their Executive Assistant and profficient in computer, shorthand and other secretarial duties.

    By Manjula Cherkil on October 18th, 2012


    By LOU on January 14th, 2013

    I have been accepted at USC Anneneberg School of Journalism. The masters degree program starts in August.At 64 and 1/2, I am retired and am in need of $$$ to help pay for this. Some states offer tuition assistance or even free rides to senior citizens. Please let me know what might exist in California.

    By Timothy Wahl on May 31st, 2014

    59 years old and considering going back to college to get my associate degree or higher. What college in California waver Tuition or lower tuition for senior citizen?

    By jose r naranjo on October 22nd, 2014

    I am 64 yrs old and would like to earn my master’s degree (online if possible). I have a BA degree in English and never got to earn a higher education degree due to my single mother status.

    I have very limited funds today…I need financial help with this dream.

    By Marsha C. on November 13th, 2014

    I am 65 years old. I have 66 credit hours from a Florida University. Recently, I was laid off and have no income. I am very interested in furthering my education (Bachelor of Science) in either Construction Management and or Construction Environmental Health & Safety. Note: My work history/experience is in both fields for over 30 years. With no income, I am looking for a Educational Program that will financially assist or subsist me in my educational goals. I live in Florida.

    By Michael Danforth on November 15th, 2014

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