Fall, along with those bright yellow school buses, will be here before you know it. Most of us said goodbye to those back-to-school days a long time ago, but for those over 55, doctors see a real upside in considering a return to academic learning. The aging brain benefits from overall memory stimulation and problem-solving and experiences meaningful neuron regeneration when it’s nudged into unchartered territory – whether through changing our usual route to the supermarket, switching up the daily crossword for Sudoku, or enrolling in a college course!
We all know the cost of higher education can be steep – but that isn’t necessarily the case for seniors and what they’re asked to pay. The fact is that many colleges and universities across the country offer free or significantly reduced classes for senior citizens who qualify. These requirements vary but typically include the following:
- Age requirement: usually, you must be 60 or older
- Proof of US residency
- Proof of retirement
- Income restrictions to access tuition waivers or other discounts
- Proof of high school diploma
While some schools require seniors to audit classes, many offer full college credit for completed courses. Regarding finding discounts available, there are many online resources to consult. Here are some good ones to look at:
- The Pennyhoarder site has found deals for seniors at schools in every state in the US, listed alphabetically on their website.
- SeniorResource and A Senior Citizen Guide for College are other excellent resources that list discounted education programs for seniors state-by-state.
- The Bernard Osher Foundation funds more than 100 learning programs for attendees 50 and over at higher education institutions across the country.
- Consumer Reports has lots of helpful information on its website to help seniors navigate the various discounts available.
- Ready for the IRS to pay you for a change? They offer a lifelong tax credit of $10,000 towards higher education. Details and requirements can be found on their website.
If you don’t qualify for tuition waivers or discounts and don’t mind foregoing college credit, choosing to audit classes is another option. Auditing costs you nothing and can be a great way to learn and get exposed to the academic environment without the stress of homework or exams! Alternatively, you might also want to look into enrolling in Massive Open Online Courses, most of which are also free. There’s no obligation to complete any course you might want to try and no commitment necessary to complete any work assignments.