20 Colleges With Free Tuition for Senior Citizens

Retirement means more time, but staying active is important. Why not learn something new? Here are 20 colleges with free tuition for seniors.

portrait of Sharon Wilfong
by Sharon Wilfong

Published on March 7, 2022 · Updated on May 6, 2022

Edited by Hannah Muniz
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20 Colleges With Free Tuition for Senior Citizens

Retirement is typically a time to relax. But investing some of that free time into learning new skills can help keep your mind sharp.

Many institutions across the U.S. offer free college courses for seniors. These programs are an excellent opportunity to explore new interests and stay intellectually active.

And you don't always have to worry about grades either — many schools allow seniors to audit classes without doing homework or taking exams.

But what colleges offer free tuition for seniors? And what are the requirements for these programs? Here are 20 universities with free college courses for seniors, along with overviews of how they work.

1. California State University System

Education Code 89330 authorizes the popular CSU system to provide free tuition for seniors. Each campus must grant tuition waivers to California residents age 60 and older. Waived fees include those for tuition, applications, health services, and instructionally related activities.

Seniors can enroll in regular-session, undergraduate-level courses in subjects such as art, the humanities, agriculture, and computer studies.

2. Clemson University — Clemson, SC

Article 5, Title 59 under the South Carolina Code of Laws allows state-supported universities to offer free tuition for seniors.

A large public university, Clemson provides free college classes for seniors. Learners can choose to audit a class or earn college credit. Students must be residents to receive the benefit, and admission is subject to program approval.

3. Colorado State University — Fort Collins, CO

CSU's senior citizen class visitation policy allows resident instruction classes on a space-available basis to students age 55 and over. Lifelong learners can register for classes in subjects like theater, Italian, and women's studies without paying tuition. Additional course fees are assessed individually.

4. Georgia Institute of Technology — Atlanta, GA

Provision 4.2.1.9 in the Georgia Constitution includes rules regarding free college for seniors age 62 and over. State residents can take higher education courses at no tuition cost, except at dental, medical, veterinary, and law schools.

Georgia Tech — one of the country's top tech institutes — offers a 62 or Older Program that provides a waiver for both in-state graduate-level tuition and applicable student fees.

5. The Ohio State University — Columbus, OH

Section 3345.27 of the Ohio Revised Code maintains similar regulations as Georgia regarding tuition, residency, and space availability. Ohio State's Program 60 targets state residents who have lived in Ohio for at least a year.

Anyone age 60 or older may apply for undergraduate, graduate-level, or free online college courses for senior citizens.

6. The Pennsylvania State University — University Park, PA

Penn State's GO-60 program allows residents age 60 and older to take undergraduate courses (but not earn a degree). Participants must work less than 20 hours a week or be retired and meet the course prerequisites. For-credit classes are available on all Penn State campuses at no tuition cost on a space-available basis.

7. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Rutgers offers the Senior Citizen Audit Program with free college courses for seniors, depending on availability. State residents age 62 and over can audit classes at no tuition cost, though they must pay for textbooks.

Rutgers' free college classes for seniors are available at the New Brunswick, Camden, and Newark campuses.

8. The State University of New York

Assembly Bill A6380, which has not yet passed, would allow for free, for-credit courses for learners age 65 and older. Many SUNY campuses, including SUNY Purchase, already waive tuition for seniors. Additionally, various SUNY campuses offer noncredit courses, seminars, and workshops for retirees.

9. University of Connecticut — Storrs, CT

Connecticut state law allows residents age 62 and older to qualify for a tuition waiver at any public higher education institution. UConn's senior citizen audit program offers seniors the option to audit undergraduate courses. However, there must be space available in fall or spring, and the instructor must give permission.

10. University of Delaware — Newark, DE

Chapter 34, Subchapter X of Delaware law authorizes residents age 60 and older to attend college without paying tuition. Seniors are responsible for paying for books, supplies, and lab and shop fees.

UD's Over-60 Tuition-Free Degree Program uses a space-available format and does not cover continuing education classes.

11. University of Florida — Gainesville, FL

Florida statute Chapter 1009 authorizes state universities to waive tuition and related fees for residents age 60 and older. UF's 60-plus program provides free tuition and covers fees for seniors auditing a course. The waiver depends on space availability, and the university may limit courses.

12. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — Champaign, IL

The Illinois Senior Citizen Courses Act permits public universities to enroll seniors in regularly scheduled credit courses without charging tuition. Residents age 65 and older are eligible at the U of I, so long as space is available. Note that fees and other charges are not included in the tuition waiver.

13. University of Kansas — Lawrence, KS

Chapter 2, Section B.1 in the Kansas Board of Regents Policy Manual ensures free tuition for Kansas residents age 60 and older. Under this law, learners can audit eligible courses at a state university, including KU, at no cost.

A senior citizen waiver is available for nondegree-seeking undergraduate and graduate students at KU's main campus in Lawrence and the Medical Center. Students must submit this form every semester they enroll.

14. University of Maryland — College Park, MD

Section VIII230 of the University System of Maryland's policies and procedures ensures senior citizens' right to free college courses. Any retired individual age 60 or older whose chief income comes from retirement benefits may be eligible for a tuition waiver at a member institution, including UMD, which offers the Golden ID Program.

15. University of Massachusetts Amherst — Amherst, MA

In Massachusetts, the Categorical Tuition Waiver provides financial support to people who can't afford higher education without assistance.

UMass Amherst's Senior Citizen Tuition Credit Affidavit credits $857-$1,320 in tuition per semester, depending on whether you're enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program. The university also offers free online college courses for seniors.

16. University of Minnesota Twin Cities — Minneapolis, MN

Sec. 135A.52 MN Statutes guarantee free tuition for seniors age 62 and older at any Minnesota state college or university. Seniors must pay an administration fee and for any materials, personal property, and service charges, unless they're auditing a course. UMN's Senior Citizen Education Program offers reduced costs to audit classes and earn college credit.

17. University of Oregon — Eugene, OR

In Oregon, the senior citizen registration classification applies to residents age 65 and older and allows them to audit classes at no charge. The benefit uses a space-available basis, and individual departments must grant approval.

Seniors can take classes focusing on subjects such as creative writing, metalsmithing and jewelry, language, digital art, and disability studies.

18. University of Texas at Austin — Austin, TX

Chapter 54 of the Texas Education Code authorizes state colleges to offer free tuition for Texas residents age 65 and older. Like most tuition waivers, the award doesn't cover fees, books, or continuing education classes.

UT Austin — one of the country's top public universities — provides free tuition for seniors up to six credits.

19. University of Virginia — Charlottesville, VA

Virginia's Higher Education Act, Code 23.1-640, waives tuition for residents age 60 and older taking up to three full- or part-time courses for academic credit. An applicant's individual taxable income may not exceed $23,850 for the year preceding the award year.

UVA's Senior Citizen Waiver Program provides for-credit courses with no tuition or fees, except for course materials.

20. University of Wisconsin-Madison — Madison, WI

UW offers senior learning opportunities through its continuing studies programs for adults age 50 and older. In-person and online courses are available for professional development and personal enrichment. Those age 60 and older can audit courses for free (with instructor approval).

The top public university's Continuing Studies program also offers various noncredit classes in subjects like history, languages, and writing.


Feature Image: Marc Romanelli / Getty Images

A long list of companies provide tuition assistance to U.S. employees, but programs and coverage vary by company. Many colleges offered tuition discounts in response to COVID-19. While discounts and loans don't solve the problem, the trend toward minimizing costs may be reversing as higher ed weathers inflation. Older learners bring unique perspectives and attitudes to higher education. Check out these six key advantages of being an older college student.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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