The term “free college” is a phrase that is making a lot of headlines. While it is a popular idea, it is not new. Free classes have been available for a while, especially for seniors. You can take classes in a variety of subjects, either to increase your knowledge in a professional field or simply as a hobby.
There are a great many reasons to take free classes as you age. Learning gives you new purpose. It allows you to meet new people. There are also scientific studies that show learning new things helps to protect the mind and body from age-related disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Many options are available online, but there are also locations in each of the United States that allow seniors to attend classes for free.
When you seek free classes that you can take in person, first check with local colleges and universities. Many of them have adult learning centers for low or no charge. Some will allow seniors to audit classes for free, which means you can sit in on class lectures and do the related work, but you will not receive course credit. If you don’t find an option in the following list that is near you, don’t be shy about contacting a local college or university to learn what options they may have for you to enhance your knowledge.
Junior colleges in Alabama have free options for seniors. Any Alabama resident who is over the age of 60 can attend a junior college with no charge for tuition. You may have to pay for course materials and other related fees. However, if you qualify for state or federal financial aid, a grant may cover any of these additional costs.
Seniors can attend classes through the University of Alaska without paying tuition if there are any spots available in the chosen classes when the student enrolls. There are stipulations to this benefit. First, the senior must be receiving full social security benefits. Second, the waived costs only apply to tuition and no other fees. Third, the tuition waiver is only offered at the University of Alaska’s home campus.
Arizona does not offer automatic free tuition to seniors, but there are some colleges, like Maricopa Community College, that offer reduced rates to those over the age of 60. Arizona residents should contact their local colleges to learn about discounts that are available to older students.
Students over the age of 60 can attend any public institution in Arkansas without paying tuition. They must be working toward a degree, but this can be either a baccalaureate or graduate degree. While seniors can attend without paying tuition, they are not guaranteed entry. Therefore, any older person who wishes to take advantage of this program should apply as early as possible.
Anyone over the age of 60 can attend California State University with no tuition charges. Students will be charged fees and must pay for course materials, but these fees are greatly reduced for seniors.
Anyone over 55 can visit a Colorado State University class without paying tuition. This applies to all classes except those that include lab study.
All state colleges in Connecticut offer free tuition to seniors over the age of 62. This applies to audited courses, part-time students and those who are seeking degrees. Other fees may apply.
Students can attend public universities, community colleges and technical schools in Delaware without paying tuition. They must be at least 60 years of age and must be admitted using the same guidelines as all other students. Seniors can earn certificates, undergraduate degrees and graduate degrees without paying for tuition.
Students who live in Florida and are over the age of 60 can take courses through the Florida university system without paying tuition. Students cannot earn credit for courses that are provided for free.
State colleges in Georgia are tuition-free for residents who are over the age of 62. Students must apply to the school they choose and they may be denied entry based on available space.
Seniors can attend any Hawaii community college or the University of Hawaii without paying any tuition or fees. Students cannot earn direct or transfer credit if they do not pay to attend these classes.
Boise State University offers free tuition to students over the age of 65. Other state institutions may provide discounting to seniors and those who show financial need.
Low-income seniors may qualify for free tuition at public institutions in Illinois. These students may receive credit for the classes they attend. They will not receive waivers for course materials or student fees, though state and federal grants may cover these expenses.
There are no free tuition programs in Indiana for seniors. However, Purdue University offers free online courses and 50 percent tuition rates on in-seat classes to anyone over the age of 60.
There are no tuition-free courses for seniors in Iowa. Some individual colleges offer programs that may be interesting to those seeking to take classes in person. For instance, Simpson College lets seniors take one tuition-free course per semester.
State institutions in Kansas are tuition free for any resident who is over the age of 60.
State schools in Kentucky are tuition-free for all residents who are 65 or older. These students do not have to pay any student fees, but they may have to cover the cost of course materials. This program is known within the state of Kentucky as the Donovan Fellowship, named for former University of Kentucky president, Herman Donovan. Students can apply through the University of Kentucky website, but the fellowship may be utilize at any state school.
All state schools in Louisiana offer free tuition to residents over the age of 55. These students also receive half-off the cost of all course materials.
The University of Maine system offers free tuition to students over the age of 65. Students can audit classes or receive credit as long as space is available.
Students over age 60 are eligible for tuition-free learning through the University of Maryland system. Students can earn degrees through the tuition-waiver program, but they must be legally retired.
Free tuition is offered to seniors over the age of 60 who take a minimum of three credits per semester. This is applicable only to state-supported schools.
A variety of schools in Michigan offer programs for seniors, but there is no state mandate regarding tuition assistance. Michigan residents should connect with their chosen university to learn about any programs they may have. Michigan Tech offers two free classes per semester as long as they are taken in-person at the home campus.
Minnesota-residents over the age of 62 receive waivers from the state for free tuition at any higher education institution. These waivers apply to audited and credited courses, though some schools may charge additional fees for credit-granting classes.
The state of Mississippi does not offer any tuition-waiver programs for seniors, though some individual colleges and universities have programs that lower the cost of classes for those age 65 and over.
Students in Missouri can attend state-supported schools without paying tuition as long as they are not attending for credit. Missouri seniors may not be admitted to specific classes if space is limited.
Montana-residents over the age of 65 can attend classes at any Montana University system campus without being charged tuition. Students are charged all applicable fees and must cover the costs of course materials.
The state of Nebraska does not mandate a tuition waiver for seniors. However, many colleges have free or discounted tuition for those who are age 62 and older. One of these schools is Mid-Plains Community College, which charges a lower tuition rate of $33 per credit hour for anyone over the age of 62.
Students over age 62 can take regular semester courses at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas at no charge. Tuition waivers do not apply for summer classes or those courses that require labs and other fees.
Seniors can take no more than two tuition-free courses through the University of New Hampshire per year. They cannot take free classes if they are on a degree track.
There are no state mandates for New Jersey seniors to take tuition-free courses. Rutgers University offers free tuition to retired residents over the age of 62.
Seniors age 65 and older pay only $5 per credit hour to attend state-supported classes in New Mexico. They may not take more than six credit hours per semester.
Schools throughout New York have programs for seniors, but there is no state mandate that requires tuition assistance based on age. SUNY Purchase provides free tuition for seniors who pay the appropriate fees. Other schools have similar structures.
Those over the age of 65 can attend community college for free in North Carolina. In addition, at NC State University and select other universities, residents aged 65 or older who meet Non-Degree Studies admission requirements may audit courses at NC State University tuition-free on a space-available basis.
The state of North Dakota does not mandate free tuition for seniors. There are some institutions that offer free and reduced tuition, such as Bismarck State, but they should be contacted on an individual basis.
Any resident over the age of 60 can attend any state college for free. They will not receive credit for the classes they take.
Tuition is waived at all state colleges and universities for seniors over the age of 65. These courses are offered as audits and not for credit.
Students over the age of 65 can take tuition-free classes through Oregon State University and the University of Oregon.
Some Pennsylvania community colleges offer waivers for senior citizens. These tuition waivers are only offered if space is available in certain classes. Clarion University is one such school that offers free tuition waivers.
Low-income individuals over the age of 60 may request a tuition waiver at the Community College of Rode Island. Those who do not qualify must pay the regular tuition fees.
Students who are admitted into any South Carolina state institution can attend classes tuition-free if they are age 60 or older. Student fees or other costs are not waived.
There are no free tuition classes at state universities in South Dakota, but seniors may be offered significant discounts. Any interested South Dakota resident should contact the financial aid offices at their preferred university.
Students over the age of 65 are offered free tuition at Tennessee state schools and community colleges. These courses are for credit, which means seniors can earn degrees without paying any tuition. They must pay any related fees and cover the cost of course materials. Seniors must apply for these funds through the Tennessee Reconnect program.
Some Texas schools allow seniors to take classes tuition-free. Most require that students maintain a minimum GPA to be able to continue to take these free classes. Likewise, most schools do not allow students to take more than six credit hours per semester.
Students over age 62 can take courses at any state institution without paying tuition. They must pay special fees, which can vary from school to school.
Seniors in Vermont cannot earn college credit, but they can audit classes for free. Each senior can only audit one course per semester. If they wish to take additional courses, they must pay 50 percent of standard tuition rates. Vermont students must pay all fees regardless of the number of courses they attend.
Every public institution in Virginia allows low income seniors to audit up to three courses per semester with no charges for tuition or fees. They may have to pay for course materials.
Seniors over the age of 60 may attend any institution in the state of Washington without paying tuition. These students must be enrolled for credit. Any senior who wishes to audit courses may be charged a fee to sit in on a class.
A number of institutions in West Virginia offer free or reduced classes for seniors. For example, Bethany College allows any student over the age of 55 to take up to three classes per semester at no charge. The University of West Virginia waives tuition fees for seniors. The University of Charleston does not offer free tuition, but it does offer reduced rates.
Some public universities in Wisconsin allow seniors to audit classes. Those over the age of 60 can sit in on classes where space is available. They are not charged fees, but they also cannot earn credit for these classes.
Seniors can attend the University of Wyoming for free. However, this tuition-free education is only available to those over the age of 65. Likewise, they must first be admitted to the university following the same admission guidelines as all other students.