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Senior Resources » Can Seniors Go to University for Free in Canada?

Can Seniors Go to University for Free in Canada?

Senior education is gaining popularity and prevalence among the elderly population. Many older adults who live in the United States can take advantage of free tuition. But what about other places in North America? What about Canada? If you’re an older adult who lives in Canada, you’re in the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about attending university in your golden years.

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Can Seniors Enjoy Free Tuition Everywhere in Canada?

In Canada, there’s no universal policy that grants free university education specifically for seniors. However, some provinces and territories may offer programs or initiatives that provide seniors with reduced tuition fees or opportunities to audit courses for free. The availability of such programs varies across regions and individual universities. Below are a few considerations regarding seniors’ access to education in Canada.

Reduced Tuition Fees

Some provinces or territories may have policies that allow seniors to enroll in university courses at a reduced tuition rate. The eligibility criteria, age limits, and extent of fee reduction can vary. For example, The University of the Fraser Valley offers tuition exemption for older adults for “up to two courses (maximum 5 credits each) in Fall and Winter.” Make sure to check with specific universities or provincial education departments for details.

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Audit Courses

Seniors may have the option to audit courses for free or at a lower cost. Auditing a course allows individuals to attend classes without earning credits. While this doesn’t lead to a formal degree, it provides an opportunity for personal enrichment.

Educational Programs for Seniors

Certain universities or community colleges may offer educational programs or courses specifically designed for seniors. These programs might include workshops, lectures, or non-credit courses. While there may be associated costs, they might be more affordable than regular tuition.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Seniors in Canada may be eligible for financial aid, scholarships, or grants that can help cover educational expenses. For example, these opportunities through the financial aid offices of universities or relevant government agencies.

What Universities Waive Tuition for Seniors?

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The University of Calgary

The University of Calgary waives tuition fees related to undergraduate, direct-entry bachelor’s level courses for senior citizens. To qualify, a student must be:

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  • At least 65 years old
  • A resident of Alberta

University of Fraser Valley

The University of Fraser Valley also offers tuition fees for up to two courses (maximum 5 credits each) in the autumn and winter terms. However, course registration is subject to availability. To qualify, student must:

  • Be at least 65 years of age
  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • Complete the process for admission by the stated deadlines and be eligible for course registration

University of Waterloo

While the University of Waterloo doesn’t waive tuition altogether, seniors will still receive a discount. In order to qualify, students must:

  • Be at least 65 years of age
  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • Enrolled in a course or a graduate program

University of Guelph

While senior learners have to cover the cost of student fees, course materials, and textbooks, they don’t have to pay tuition at the University of Guelph as long as they meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 65 years of age
  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • Must have high school diploma or equivalency

Brock University

Good news! Brock University also waives tuition for senior learners. Eligibility requirements are:

  • Be at least 60 years of age
  • Taking undergraduate courses (waiver does not apply to graduate courses)

Bottom Line

To find out about specific opportunities for seniors in a particular province or territory in Canada, individuals should contact the admissions or registrar’s office of the university they are interested in attending. Additionally, provincial education departments may provide information on available programs or scholarships. Policies and programs can change, so make sure you verify the most up-to-date information!

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Originally published January 03, 2024

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