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Senior Resources » Is College Tuition Free After a Certain Age?

Is College Tuition Free After a Certain Age?

Who says that college is just for young folks? Senior education has been gaining popularity over the past few years. Whether you want to earn a degree or learn a new skill, college may be the ticket to bettering yourself. However, many seniors may wonder how much college costs. Is tuition free? Do senior discounts apply to higher education? If you’ve ever asked these questions, you’re in the right place. Here’s everything you need to know.

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Is Tuition Free?

Tuition for seniors is not always free after a certain age, and every state has different policies. The good news is that the majority of states do, in fact, offer tuition-free classes for seniors! Unfortunately, if you live in these four states, you won’t be able to go to college for free.

Arizona

Arizona is home to the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, and some of the most beautiful landscapes in the whole country. And while you may be able to admire nature for free, this state doesn’t offer free tuition for seniors. Fortunately, you aren’t out of luck! According to AARP, Maricopa County residents aged 65 and up pay half the in-county tuition at all 10 Maricopa Community Colleges campuses. Arizona State University and the University of Arizona also boast academic opportunities and programs for adults over 50.

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Idaho

Nicknamed the Gem State, Idaho has a lot to offer. Unfortunately, tuition isn’t free state-wide. However, some universities do allow adults aged 65 and older to audit classes for free. To receive credits for classes, you have to pay a discounted rate.

Indiana

While Indiana doesn’t offer free tuition like some states, state law requires public colleges to offer retired residents aged 60 and up a 50 percent discount on nine credit hours per semester (according to AARP). Some schools, like the Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University, offer FREE tuition for seniors.

South Dakota

Unlike its northern counterpart, South Dakota doesn’t offer free tuition. Does that mean older learners in South Dakota are out of luck? Fortunately, state law allows for rate reductions, meaning that adult learners aged 65 and older will receive a 45 percent discount.

Which States Have the Best Tuition-Free Programs?

California road sign

California

If you’re an older adult hoping to pursue higher education in California, you’re in luck! The Golden State boasts one of the best education programs for learners in their golden years. In fact, California residents who are at least 60 years old can attend college tuition-free at ANY of California State University’s 23 campuses.

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Connecticut

Guess what? Connecticut residents aged 62 and older can attend ANY state college for free.

Kentucky

The Bluegrass State is known for horses, basketball…and fantastic opportunities for older learners. As a matter of fact, Kentucky law mandates that all state universities waive tuition for students aged 65 and older.

South Carolina

The Palmetto State is one of the best states for adult learners. South Carolina residents aged 60 and older can attend classes for free at any state college or university without spending a dime on tuition.

Will I Still Have to Pay for Books and Other Learning Materials?

In most instances, senior citizens are still responsible for textbooks and course materials. However, policies may vary from college to college. In some cases, community colleges or universities may offer special programs or courses for senior citizens. These programs might include fee waivers or reduced fees for tuition and, in some cases, textbooks. Additional resources may include:

Library Resources

Public libraries and university libraries often have resources that senior learners can access for free. While they may not be able to take textbooks home, they might find reference materials and other educational resources in the library.

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Online and Digital Materials

Some courses may use online platforms or digital materials, which could reduce or eliminate the need for physical textbooks. In such cases, seniors might have access to electronic resources at a lower cost.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Seniors, like any other students, may be eligible for financial aid, scholarships, or grants that can help cover the costs of tuition and textbooks. Seniors should explore these opportunities through the financial aid office of the educational institution.

Course Auditing

If seniors are auditing courses rather than pursuing a formal degree, they might not be required to purchase textbooks. Auditing typically involves attending classes for personal enrichment without receiving academic credit.

Bottom Line

Individuals interested in pursuing educational opportunities should research specific programs offered by universities, colleges, and government agencies in their states. Make sure to contact the admissions or financial aid offices of the college you’re interested in. Additionally, exploring grants and waivers may also help adult learners afford higher education.

Find senior education near me.

Originally published January 02, 2024

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