There are many reasons to go back to school — even after 50. Enrolling in free college courses for 50-year-olds can teach new skills and keep your mind sharp. If you’re thinking about college, the good news is that most states offer free college to people after 50.
Going to college for free after 50 is possible for several reasons. For example, some colleges offer the over 50s the chance to audit classes. Many schools waive tuition for senior citizens enrolling in specific courses. Or you could find colleges that offer degree courses with reduced tuition fees for people aged 50 and over. All you need to know is how to find these free learning opportunities.
This article is a guide on how to find free college after 50. Here you’ll find many resources to help you become a lifelong learner.
Reasons to Back to College
Why would you want to return to school if you’re over 50? For people after 50, attending college opens many opportunities.
Maybe you need to change careers and require extra learning to make the switch. Perhaps you didn’t go to college after high school or dropped out of college. Also, technological advancements mean that education is necessary to keep up with a changing world. Or it could be that you love learning and want to expand your horizons.
Because many colleges offer free or reduced tuition to over 50s, the cost doesn’t have to be a barrier to getting more education.
Where to Find College Courses for 50 Year Old’s
If you’re over 50, you can find free programs in state universities and colleges. The choice of programs differs from state to state. And not all courses could be on offer. However, there are generally plenty of opportunities to attend college without paying for it.
Here are three ways how state colleges offer free or reduced education to people over 50.
Audit classes for free tuition
Look for the chance to audit a college class. Auditing a course means you can attend lectures for no cost. You can participate in classroom discussions and complete the coursework.
It’s good to remember that this type of free college learning doesn’t give credits, and you won’t get a certificate at the end. But you have the chance to build your knowledge.
However, you can also find local colleges that provide low-cost classes for credit. For example, some colleges only charge a few dollars per credit. Other colleges charge per semester, and the cost can be as low as $100.
Community education programs
If you want to brush up on specific skills or learn new ones, community education could be your answer. Many communities offer the over 50s and senior citizens enrollment in low- or no-cost programs. There you could learn skills related to photography, computing, craftwork, or even a new language.
Free online learning
Advances in technology mean that there has never been a better time to take part in online education. Some of the top colleges in the country offer free online line courses for 50-year-olds and senior citizens. If free classes aren’t available, companies such as Coursera offer reduced-rate online university tuition.
The Best Colleges for Senior Citizens
Across the country, many colleges offer various programs to help people over 50 go back to school. The type of courses varies from state to state. Also, there may be restrictions on the number of students who can enroll and which courses are available.
Here are some examples of colleges for senior citizens that offer free or reduced tuition. This is not an extensive list, but it gives you an idea of what’s on offer throughout the country.
Examples of the best colleges for older learners
- Colorado — Several schools in Colorado have programs where seniors can learn for free. The minimum age varies from 55 to 65. There are also free “no-credit” classes to audit.
- Florida — If you’re over 60, colleges in Florida waive tuition and fees for older students. All the courses are on a space-available basis.
- New York — Senior citizens can audit courses in some colleges for a cost of $80 per semester. Other colleges allow the over 60s to attend two free “for credit” courses.
- Rhode Island — Older learners can apply to the Community College of Rhode Island to attend degree courses. The tuition is free but is only available on an income-need basis.
- South Dakota — Public universities in South Dakota provide degree courses for over 65s for a 55 percent reduction of standard tuition fees. However, you still have to pay student fees.
- Texas — Public colleges and universities in Texas offer free college classes for senior citizens. You can also qualify for up to six credit hours for free. If you’re over 50, you can apply for tuition at a reduced cost.
- District of Columbia — Seniors over 65 can audit classes for free in some District of Columbia colleges. You can also enroll in degree courses for half the cost of “traditional” learners. If you’re between 60 and 65, you have to pay a fee to audit classes.
What to Remember About Free College Courses
Although going to college for free after 50 sounds appealing, here are a few things to remember:
- Auditing courses for free is on a space-available basis. This means you only find out at the last minute if you can attend class.
- You usually have to pay registration fees for free college education.
- There is usually no certificate for auditing college courses.
- “For credit” courses usually have a cost per credit to obtain a degree.
Even if you must pay some fees for “free” college, it’s still a small price for advancing your education.
Free College After 50: Key Takeaways
Colleges across the country have many courses for free or at a minimal cost. Some of the best colleges for senior citizens also offer degree courses for significantly reduced fees. Improving your current skillset, boosting job opportunities, or keeping your mind sharp are just some reasons to go back to school.
So, going back to college after 50 for free could be one of the best decisions you ever made.