Senior Citizens Can Go to College for Free or Cheap in All 50 States

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We’re living longer than ever before, and doing so in better health. So what can you do when you retire and want to keep your mind sharp or need to gain additional skills to stay competitive at work?

For many, the answer is to go back to school. But tuition can be prohibitively expensive.

At the same time, schools want their classrooms to be full of engaged students, regardless of age. In the interest of continuing education, many colleges and universities offer reduced or free college courses for senior citizens (typically adults 60 and up, although the rules vary).

In fact, we found at least one option in every state.

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Free (or Cheap) College Courses for Senior Citizens in Every State

While some institutions only allow senior students to audit classes, many offer the chance to earn credits toward a degree at a reduced — or completely waived — tuition rate.

Does your state have a senior citizen education program you can use? Find out below!

1. Alabama

The Alabama Commission on Higher Education states that Alabama seniors who meet admission requirements can attend any two-year institution within the state tuition-free.

Adults 60 and older should contact the financial aid office at any community college for admission and eligibility details.

Some Alabama schools, like Coastal Alabama Community College, offer online courses if you prefer virtual options.

2. Alaska

The University of Alaska waives tuition for senior-citizen residents who receive full Social Security benefits. Seniors must wait until the first day of classes to enroll to ensure that there’s space remaining; they must also complete a tuition-waiver form.

Additional costs such as student activity, health center and lab fees are not covered; the student must pay them directly.

Online college courses for senior citizens may be included if offered; check with the admissions office for confirmation.

3. Arizona

All 10 campuses of Maricopa Community College allow senior citizens to take classes for credit at 50% of the full tuition cost.

Students 65 and older must register between the first and second class sessions of the semester to ensure space is available. You can register for in-person, online or hybrid classes.

4. Arkansas

Arkansas waives tuition for anyone 60 and over who wants to work toward an undergraduate or graduate degree at state institutions.

Student fees may apply, and senior citizens may register only for college courses with space available. If you need online courses, check with your chosen college to see what options you have.

5. California

California State University waives all tuition for state-supported classes and dramatically reduces campus fees for residents age 60 or older.

Different Cal State locations may offer online courses or in-person classes.

6. Colorado

Students age 55 and older may attend class on a space-available basis at Colorado State University. There is no tuition fee, but visitors don’t get credit for attending class. It is up to the instructor how participation and grading of assignments and tests are handled. CSU currently offers face-to-face, hybrid and online classes.

At the University of Colorado Denver, people 60 and older may enroll on a no-credit basis to attend up to two classes per semester as auditors when space is available. (Courses with a lab component are excluded, as are computer courses and some other courses detailed on their website.)

7. Connecticut

Residents 62 and up may attend state colleges, including community colleges, for free on a space-available basis.

At Central Connecticut State University, for example, tuition is waived for any resident over the age of 62 who applies for full- or part-time admission for a degree-granting program. Online courses are included.

Senior students may also take noncredit courses on a space-available basis and have tuition waived. All students must still pay all other fees.

8. Delaware

The University of Delaware, Delaware State University, and Delaware Technical and Community College allow all permanent state residents age 60 or older to audit or take classes for credit for free.

At the University of Delaware, students wishing to use the program must apply for admission on a space-available basis. Some graduate degrees may be eligible, as well. Residents can register for online or in-person courses.

Participants must pay all related student fees and buy their own textbooks.

9. District of Columbia

Senior citizens 65 and up may audit undergraduate college courses from Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. These students pay a fee of $50 per credit, which means a three-credit course will cost $150.

To audit a course, there must be available space and the instructor of record must approve the enrollment.

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10. Florida

The Florida college system waives application, tuition and student fees for those age 60 and above, but colleges will award no credit. Admission is granted on a space-available basis. Check to see whether your chosen college covers online courses as well as in-person ones.

Fun fact: Florida Atlantic University’s Lifelong Learning Society has the largest adult continuing education program in the U.S. It even has its own auditorium on campus to help serve FAU’s 30,000 new registrants each year.

11. Georgia

Georgia residents age 62 and above may take classes on a space-available basis for “little or no cost” at the state’s public colleges.

Seniors may choose to take classes for credit or continuing education, but they must apply through the regular admissions process at their school of choice. Many general education courses are offered online.

12. Hawaii

The Senior Citizen Visitor Program at the University of Hawaii and state community colleges allows senior residents age 60 and up to attend up to two courses per semester free of charge. Students must meet the listed eligibility requirements, including written instructor approval, state residency, and state Department of Health health clearance.

Schools will not award credit nor will they keep permanent records of students’ class history.

13. Idaho

Programs in Idaho vary based on institution, but some schools offer good deals. The College of Southern Idaho offers free tuition for lower division courses for students aged 60 and older, in addition to other benefits. The college has online and in-person courses.

At Boise State University, Idaho residents who are at least 65 years old can audit classes on a space-available basis for free except for applicable special course fees. BSU offers online courses as well as in-person ones.

14. Illinois

Upon admission, senior citizens age 65 and up who meet income requirements can attend regular credit courses at Illinois public institutions for free. Lab, student and other fees still apply. Each institution will have guidance on registering for online or in-person classes.

15. Indiana

Indiana University offers programs that allow retired residents age 60 and older to take up to nine credit hours per semester and pay just 50% of in-state tuition fees. Courses are in person.

16. Iowa

Private institution Simpson College in Indianola allows senior citizens (65 and older) to take one noncredit college course  for free per semester. Courses are open on a space-available basis and do not include lab courses. Online courses may be available.

17. Kansas

Kansas residents 60 and older can audit courses at state institutions on a space-available basis without paying tuition. They may also take courses for credit for $230 per credit.

The registration process varies: The University of Kansas and Wichita State University, for example, require senior auditors to apply for admission. Online or in-person courses may be offered.

18. Kentucky

Tuition and fees are waived for students age 65 and older taking classes on a space-available basis. Residents must be admitted to a state-supported school to take advantage of this discount. Each school can also provide info on in-person versus online courses.

19. Louisiana

Students age 55 and up attending Louisiana state schools receive free tuition and 50% off books and materials at the campus student bookstore. Check with each school to see if online courses are included.

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20. Maine

Senior citizens 65 and up may attend undergraduate classes as degree-seeking or audit students in the University of Maine System for free, subject to space availability.

Each college within the system can provide info on the types of courses covered (i.e., online, in-person, hybrid).

21. Maryland

Any student in the University of Maryland System who is retired and over the age of 60 may have tuition waived for up to three courses per semester, even for degree-granting programs. Online courses are available as well as face-to-face offerings.

22. Massachusetts

Residents age 60 or older can take at least three credits per semester at any state-supported school in Massachusetts and receive free tuition.

Each location has information on what online courses are offered.

23. Michigan

Opportunities for seniors in Michigan vary by institution.

At Michigan Tech, for example, students 60 and older can have tuition waived for up to two courses per semester. Courses must be on campus, and seniors must apply through the admissions office.

Western Michigan University invites seniors 62 and older to register for one class per semester or session tuition-free, which may include online classes.

At Wayne State University in Detroit, seniors 60 and up receive a 75% discount on tuition but must pay registration and related fees. Wayne State offers some online courses.

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24. Minnesota

Minnesota waives tuition for senior citizens 62 and older, but fees and online options may vary by school. At the University of Minnesota, seniors pay a $10 fee per credit, but they can audit for free.

25. Mississippi

There’s no statewide benefit in Mississippi, but some schools have programs and free college courses for senior citizens.

Mississippi State University provides a waiver to residents age 60 or older for classes offered on the Starkville or Meridian campuses or by the Center for Distance Education. Seniors are limited to six semester hours per semester and a maximum of 18 credit hours per calendar year, where space is available. MSU offers online courses as well as traditional in-person ones.

The University of Mississippi’s Office of Professional Development and Lifelong Learning allows seniors 65 and older to take one class for free per semester (up to four hours) at any UM campus.

26. Missouri

Missouri residents age 65 and older are exempt from paying tuition at state-supported institutions for classes attended on a noncredit basis. Schools may limit the number of students who receive the tuition benefit based on space availability. Online classes are offered in addition to in-person ones.

27. Montana

The University of Montana offers a tuition waiver for in-state residents 65 or older for undergraduate classes. Campus and registration fees are not waived. Choose from online or in-person classes.

28. Nebraska

Nebraska residents age 65 or older can audit classes at the University of Nebraska Omaha through the Lifelong Learning for Senior Learners program. For an annual fee of $25, older Nebraskans can attend up to two classes per semester, provided they have the instructor’s permission.
Classes must be attended in person; there are no online options for this program.

29. Nevada

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, allows seniors 62 and up to take autumn and spring courses free of charge. They pay 50% tuition for summer classes. Lab and other course fees are not covered. Online courses may be offered.

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30. New Hampshire

The University of New Hampshire offers residents 65 and older free tuition for two credit-bearing classes per academic year on a space-available basis, so long as they’re not enrolled in a degree program. Courses are offered online or in person.

31. New Jersey

Rutgers University allows retired New Jersey residents 62 and older to audit courses for free in the spring and fall semesters at its Camden, New Brunswick and Newark campuses, space permitting. Current guidelines allow senior citizens to audit in-person or online classes if they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

32. New Mexico

New Mexico offers reduced tuition of just $5 per credit hour to state residents 65 and older. Online courses are available.

For-credit classes are eligible as well as auditing; senior citizens can take no more than 10 credit hours per semester. The program is offered on a space-available basis, and students are responsible for paying any additional course fees.

33. New York

Many schools offer free or reduced tuition for senior citizens. Queens College allows residents 60 and up to audit any course on a space-available basis after completing a Senior Citizen Auditor Application and paying $80 per semester.

At SUNY Purchase, New York state residents 60 and older can enroll tuition-free in a maximum of two credit-bearing, on-campus courses in which space is available. They pay a $50 audit fee, $25 ID processing fee and any course fees. In-person, online and hybrid courses are available.

34. North Carolina

Tuition and registration fees are waived for residents 65 or older attending North Carolina community colleges. Senior citizens can take up to six credit hours per semester for free. Audit options may be available at other schools.

At the University of North Carolina Wilmington, for example, senior citizens may audit college courses for free on a space-available basis after getting the instructor’s permission and submitting an application. Lab, studio, performance, distance education, independent study, internship and special topic courses are excluded. Online courses are available for those who prefer them.

35. North Dakota

Programs vary by institution in North Dakota. At Bismarck State, for example, senior citizens 65 and older can audit one course tuition-free per semester on a space-available basis. They’re still responsible for other course fees. Some online courses are available.

36. Ohio

Ohio residents at least 60 years old may attend class at any state college for free. Senior-citizen students do not receive credit and can register only on a space-available basis. They are still responsible for special assessments, such as lab fees, that may apply.

Many Ohio state colleges offer online courses, as well as in-person and hybrid.

37. Oklahoma

Oklahoma state colleges and universities waive tuition and fees for senior citizens 65 and older who wish to audit classes on a space-available basis.

38. Oregon

Oregon State University allows senior citizens at least 65 years old to audit college courses for free at a maximum of eight credit hours per semester.

The University of Oregon also waives fees for seniors 65 and older auditing classes on a space-available basis.

Online course options may be offered depending on availability.

39. Pennsylvania

Clarion University offers a tuition waiver for residents 62 and up to audit classes. At Bloomsburg University, you need to be only 60 to take tuition-free classes on a space-available basis.

There can be additional benefits at the community college level: Bucks County Community College, for example, waives for-credit course tuition for seniors 65 and up so long as they register after students who are paying full tuition. Many courses are offered online, though some in-person and hybrid options are available.

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40. Rhode Island

Tuition waivers can be requested from citizens over 60 at the Community College of Rhode Island. Seats are granted when there is space available.

All degree-seeking senior students must fill out a FAFSA. They also have to submit a Senior Citizens Means Test to verify they have limited income.

41. South Carolina

Residents 60 and above can attend college courses at state schools on a credit or noncredit basis, pending space available, for free. The school must grant admission via its normal procedures.

Technology, lab and other fees are the responsibility of the student. Many South Carolina community colleges offer online courses for those interested.

42. South Dakota

Residents 65 and older can attend public universities in South Dakota at a reduction of cost of 45%.

Interested adults do not need to submit a formal application; the school will automatically grant the discount upon admission. Student fees are not waived, and the discount only applies to in-person classes.

43. Tennessee

The University of Tennessee allows senior citizens to enroll in undergraduate or graduate courses for $7 per credit hour with a maximum fee of $70 per semester.

Students will still pay application and course fees. Senior citizens can choose between online courses and in-person ones.

44. Texas

A senior citizen age 65 or older can take up to six tuition-free credit hours at the University of Texas at Austin.

At the University of Texas at Dallas and Lone Star College, undergrad students 65 and older must maintain a 2.0 cumulative GPA (3.0 for graduate students) to receive a tuition waiver for up to six credit hours per semester.

Check with each individual university to see which online and in-person classes are available for enrollment.

45. Utah

Utah residents age 62 and up may enroll tuition-free at a state institution, space permitting; a quarterly registration fee is required.

At the University of Utah, for example, seniors can audit most classes on a space-available basis and only have to pay a fee of $25 per semester, plus any special fees required. Call to see whether online classes are included.

46. Vermont

Vermonters over the age of 65 can audit one class per semester tuition-free on a space-available basis in the Vermont State College System. Students can take additional classes at a 50% discount of the tuition rate, either in person or online.

They’ll still have to pay administration and course fees for all classes.

47. Virginia

Under the amended terms of the Senior Citizens Higher Education Act of 1974, Virginia residents over 60 years old who earn a taxable income of less than $23,850 annually can audit up to three courses per term for free on a space-available basis at any public institution, either in person or online.

48. Washington

Institutions in Washington are required to partially or fully waive tuition fees for residents age 60 or older who are enrolled for credit on a space-available basis. Nominal fees may apply to students auditing courses.

Some schools limit senior citizens to a certain number of classes or credits; for example, Washington State University caps the waiver at six credits for the fall and spring semesters. Online programs are available.

49. West Virginia

Senior citizens 65 and older at West Virginia University seeking college credit must use the regular admissions form. Those wishing to be non-degree students pay just $5 to apply. WVU offers classes online or in person.

50. Wisconsin

Adults 60 and up may audit college courses at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus or at UW-Madison Online for free, where space is available.

51. Wyoming

At Laramie County Community College, senior citizens 60 and older pay only 20% of the resident tuition rate  per credit hour, though they still need to pay any other course or online fees.

Northwest College offers adults 60 and older free tuition up to six credit hours per semester for on-site and online courses, as well as free entry to most college social, cultural and athletic events.

Another Continuing Education Option

More than 100 colleges and universities around the country offer another continuing education program for senior citizens: enrichment courses through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes (OLLI).

Prices vary depending upon the institution. Duke University, for example, has a $60 annual membership fee and then charges $45 to $175 per class. Senior citizens can choose to take classes online or in person.

OLLI classes don’t count toward a degree, but if you’re looking for personal development opportunities among older adults, these courses can provide opportunities that mix in the campus experience, too.

Contributor Catherine Hiles updated this post for 2023.