Is there a subject you always dreamed of learning more about but didn’t have the time or finances to do so? This may be the perfect moment to take advantage of special opportunities that only seniors have. You may be surprised to learn that many institutions of higher learning offer free education opportunities to seniors. In fact, you can find free or inexpensive college courses even as early as 50 years of age (depending on the school) in all 50 states in the U.S. As our senior population continues to thrive, living longer and healthier lives, continuing education is a great way to keep active, gain additional information and have fun too!
Too Good to be True?
If you’re wondering if there’s a catch, there may be some modifications or stipulations depending on the organization. In some instances these “catches” may look more like benefits. For example, some universities offer audit courses meaning that little to no homework is assigned and exams are exempt, however, college credit will not be received upon completion. For many seniors, stipulations such as these are not looked upon as disadvantages. Holding the actual degree may not be of great importance rather the interest lies in gaining news skills and knowledge for personal growth and stimulation. This is not to say that a degree cannot be earned, many institutions do offer degree opportunities for a small price or a completely waived fee for those looking to receive credit.
Benefits of Taking Courses Past 50
Below are just a few of the ways you could benefit from continuing education in your 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and beyond!
- Better job prospects
- Social engagement
- Gain new skills for part-time opportunities post retirement
- Personal growth
- Stay mentally active
- New friendships
- Keep busy after retirement
- Decreases your chances of becoming depressed due to lack of stimulation
- Possibility of opening new doors
- Learn a new language
- Free online courses
- Improve your computer skills
- Associated costs may qualify you for tax breaks
How to Find Free (and Cheap) Courses Near You
Contact your local college or university to see if they offer senior citizens free or discounted rates for regular or audit courses. If they do not, they may be able to point you in the right direction. If you live in an area where free or discounted courses are not assessable, you may want to consider online courses. There are numerous senior programs within institutions offering 100% free online classes. One example is, The Senior Learners Program at the University of Illinois Springfield, where seniors can take both non-degree and degree credit classes all online and without the payment of tuition.
Are you 50 or above and taking college courses for free? Encourage others with your story in the comments below!