Beyond Retirement: Low-Cost College for Seniors

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in educational opportunities tailored to older adults in the United States. Many states have recognized the value of lifelong learning and are offering low-cost college courses to seniors, making higher education accessible to all ages. We’ve listed some senior colleges to help make it easier for you to improve your education!

Understanding the Landscape

For many seniors, the pursuit of education is not about career advancement but about personal growth and staying mentally active. Colleges across the U.S. are responding to this demographic trend by providing affordable learning opportunities that cater specifically to older adults. These programs often include for-credit courses leading to degrees as well as non-credit classes focused on personal interests and skill development.

Benefits of Continued Education for Seniors

Continued education in later life can have profound benefits. It helps maintain cognitive functions, enhances social interaction, and increases the individual’s engagement with the community. Furthermore, seniors bring a unique perspective to the classroom, enriching the learning experience for all students.

State-Sponsored Programs

Several states have instituted policies that allow seniors to attend college at a significantly reduced cost or even for free. These programs typically have specific eligibility requirements, such as age thresholds, residency status, and income levels. Some states also offer scholarships and grants specifically designed for older adults.


Boston, Massachusetts – University of Massachusetts Boston

  • Senior College Cost: Free tuition for seniors 60 and over, subject to space availability.
  • Discount: 100% tuition waiver.
  • How to Apply: Seniors must apply for admission and can register for classes as auditors if space is available.
  • Degree Pursuit: Seniors can pursue degrees if they meet regular admission criteria; auditing does not typically lead to a degree​.


Minneapolis, Minnesota – University of Minnesota

  • Senior College Cost: Audit classes are free, credit classes are $10 per credit for seniors 62+.
  • Discount: Substantial discount from standard tuition rates.
  • How to Apply: Seniors must enroll through the Senior Citizen Education Program and register for classes as space is available.
  • Degree Pursuit: Degree completion is possible by paying the discounted rate for credit courses​​.


Austin, Texas – University of Texas at Austin

  • Senior College Cost: Free auditing, check for any applicable fees.
  • Discount: Free auditing available.
  • How to Apply: Seniors should apply through the university’s auditing program and meet with the professor of each class.
  • Degree Pursuit: Auditing classes does not lead to a degree; credit courses might still be paid​​.

Athens, Georgia – University of Georgia

  • Senior College Cost: Free for seniors 62+.
  • Discount: 100% tuition waiver.
  • How to Apply: Seniors apply through the registrar and are admitted on a space-available basis.
  • Degree Pursuit: Seniors can pursue degrees tuition-free if they meet other admission requirements​.


Los Angeles, California – California State University, Los Angeles

  • Senior College Cost: Tuition waivers available, but fees may apply.
  • Discount: Tuition waiver for seniors.
  • How to Apply: Contact the admissions office to find out about senior programs and space availability.
  • Degree Pursuit: Degree pursuit is possible under waived tuition, but fees may be applicable​.

Phoenix, Arizona – Arizona State University

  • Senior College Cost: Approximately $42.50 per credit after a 50% discount for seniors 65+.
  • Discount: 50% off standard tuition rates.
  • How to Apply: Seniors should apply for admission and enroll in classes as per university guidelines.
  • Degree Pursuit: Seniors can work towards a degree, paying discounted rates.


Lawrence, Kansas – University of Kansas

  • Senior College Cost: Free tuition for up to six credit hours per semester for seniors 60+.
  • Discount: 100% tuition waiver for specific courses.
  • How to Apply: Apply through the university’s senior program, often on an audit or non-degree basis.
  • Degree Pursuit: Non-degree unless enrolled in credit courses​.

Denver, Colorado – University of Denver

  • Senior College Cost: $100 per course for auditing classes by seniors aged 60+.
  • Discount: Reduced fee from regular tuition for auditing.
  • How to Apply: Seniors must fill out a Senior Citizen Audit Program form and pay the course fee.
  • Degree Pursuit: Auditing does not lead to a degree; credit courses might involve additional costs.

Challenges and Considerations

While the opportunity to attend college at a reduced cost is appealing, there are challenges to consider. Some seniors may find it difficult to navigate the digital tools required for modern college courses, or they may face mobility issues. Colleges accommodating older adults often provide additional support services, such as tutoring in computer skills and physical accessibility improvements.

Looking Ahead

As the population ages, the demand for senior-friendly education options is likely to increase. Colleges and states will need to continue adapting their programs to meet the needs of older adults. This adaptation not only supports the seniors but also creates a more dynamic, intergenerational learning environment that benefits all students.