Can Senior Citizens Go To College For Free?

It’s never too late to pursue your education, even for senior citizens. But can senior citizens go to college for free without worrying about student loans?

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It’s never too late to pursue your education, even for senior citizens. But can senior citizens go to college for free without worrying about student loans?

Whether you want to pursue a second career option, your dream job, or just love to learn, college is a great option for senior citizens but are they even qualified for admission? Let’s find out.

Can senior citizens go to college for free? Yes! Across the U.S, nearly every state has a college that provides free or waived fees options for senior citizens. The University of Alaska, University of Kansas, Western Michigan University, and more offer free or cheap courses for seniors (60 or above).

Many colleges in the U.S that offer free tuition to senior citizens provide a credit-based course, where seniors can earn their way to a degree through credit without worrying about student loans. Not all colleges offer free tuition; some offer waived fees. Admission for free or fee-waived courses is based on a first-come basis in which priority is given to students who pay for the degree/course, but the admission process is the same for everyone.

In this article, we will discuss the best free and low-cost colleges for senior citizens and how adults can avoid student loans. Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

How Can Senior Citizens Qualify for Free College?

Most of the colleges in the U.S that offer free education for seniors are state-owned, although few private institutions provide free tuition as well. As mentioned above, the admission process is the same for everyone but for free tuition for senior citizens; there are a few requirements you need to meet.

  • You need to be the considered retirement age of the state you live in, which is 55 or above.
  • You need to show proof of retirement.
  • You need to show proof that you are a U.S citizen.
  • There might be an income restriction to avail free tuition or waived fees.
  • A completed high school diploma.

These requirements can vary from state to state and college to college. Make sure to check all the requirements when choosing a college and enjoy the field of your choice. Although if you go for a course that has limited seats and paying students, priority will be given to the students paying for the course.

Top Free and Low-Cost Colleges for Senior Citizens

Now that you know the answer to, “can senior citizens go to college for free?” we have listed some of the top options below. As mentioned above, you can find a free tuition or waived fees option in nearly every state in the U.S.

University of Alaska

The University of Alaska waives tuition fees for senior citizens if they are permanent residents of Alaska and are qualified for complete social security benefits. If you wish to enroll in this college, the university recommends waiting until courses start to ensure if there are seats available as priority will be given to paying students. You also need to fill a fee waiver form when applying for admission.

Apart from free education, you will be responsible for certain expenses, including health facilities, student activities, lab fees, and more, which are not included in the waived or free tuition.

Alabama University

The State of Alabama offers free tuition to seniors at the age of 60 or above at two-year postsecondary institutions, provided they meet the criteria. For example, in the Calhoun Community college, senior citizens can apply for the Senior Adults Scholarship Program if:

  • They are 60 years or above
  • They are the residents of Alabama
  • They have enrolled in a credit course

Adults can also contact the financial aid office and get requirement details for all Alabama State community colleges.

University of Kansas

On presentation of acceptable proof of age, any Kansas resident 60 years of age or older is eligible for audit courses at state colleges on a space-available basis. Make sure to contact the administration first to get answers to your registration-related queries, as they can vary for each community college and university. For example, the University of Kansas requires seniors to apply for admission but as non-degree seeking students.

Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University allows adults aged 62 and over to take one class or session for free per semester through their Senior Citizens’ Opportunity Program. The tuition fee is waived, but other fees, like labs, etc., will be added.

Senior citizens have to apply through the admission office, and admission will be given based on a seat-available basis. Adults that get admission through SCOPE do not have access to on-campus housing, discounts, and more.

Other colleges in Michigan also offer audit classes for free for adults aged 60 or above.

California State University

All the state-owned colleges, including California State University, waive tuition fees for seniors aged 60 or above. You can easily apply for your desired courses and enjoy waived fees. Moreover, the state-owned colleges also waive application fees and any other fees associated with the course and other campus activities.

Senior citizens only have to pay $1 for student body fees, health facilities, and other campus benefits.

University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas offers free tuition to senior citizens aged 60 or above. You need to hold a high school diploma and can only register for audit classes and will be given admission on a seat-available basis.

Some of the fees are not covered, such as books, supplies, and other class-associated activities that you have to pay for yourself.

Florida Atlantic University

The Florida Atlantic University offers waived tuition to senior citizens aged 60 or above. Admission is given on a seat-available basis. Thus, you need to apply early if you want in. The university also waives tuition fees, application fees, and student facilities fees.

Can senior citizens go to college for free? The evidence is clear enough. There are many other colleges that offer free or low-cost tuition to senior citizens, provided they complete the requirements.

Ways You Can Avoid Student Loans

There are several ways you can avoid student loans, take admission to a college, and enjoy your retirement days studying and learning new things. U.S State and community colleges offer the following benefits to senior citizens.

Audit Courses

Audit courses enable senior citizens to attend classes and take part in class activities without worrying about exams, homework, and other necessary requirements to pass the course. Course auditing is arranged directly between the student and the teacher, and end-of-class or thesis requirements are discussed accordingly. You also don’t get any credit from these classes and have to pay for labs, parking space, etc., although the fee is waived.

Waived Fees

Almost all U.S States offer waived fees or low-cost tuition to senior citizens. But this option is hardly utilized due to the large set of requirements for such programs. For example, adults can only enroll in credit-based or non-credit-based courses, and there are many requirements like income limit, age limit, educational requirement, and more. All this can be confusing and limit the number of seniors that can take admission.


Although rare, many colleges in the U.S offer scholarship programs to senior citizens. Both Northern Michigan University and Alabama State University offer scholarships with restrictions. You also might have to pay for course-associated things like books, health facilities, parking space, etc.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, senior citizens can also opt for online classes to pursue their educational and career dreams. The requirements and eligibility criteria can vary from state to state and college to college, but the admission process is smooth and based on a seat-available basis. So, if you want to enroll, sign up quickly.

Now that you know the answer to, “can senior citizens go to college for free?” you can now make a well-informed decision and contact your chosen State-owned college and ask for their requirements regarding senior citizens and what type of programs and courses they offer. We hope this article helped!

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