Tuition waivers, scholarships, and grants make lifelong learning possible for mature University students.
The high cost of secondary education is a rather hot topic, and it has certainly influenced most of our lives in one way or another. Perhaps you are still helping your children or grandchildren pay off their education. While so much energy is focused on funding education for younger generations, you may not have considered your own potential to return to school. Once you hit 65, you may have the option to go back to school for a reduced rate or even for free. The trend of seniors attending lifelong learning programs is on the rise, and it may be something worthwhile to consider.
While some seniors elect to go back to school in hopes of an encore career transition, many enjoy simply studying topics of interest. Mature students find this to be an excellent way to fill free time and to expand their community ties. If the excitement hasn’t kicked in for you already, Science Daily quotes a study by Denise Park of the University of Texas at Dallas regarding challenging the aging mind. “Although there is much more to be learned, we are cautiously optimistic that age-related cognitive declines can be slowed or even partially restored if individuals are exposed to sustained, mentally challenging experiences.” Check out the many options available that give you the chance to put your brain to the test!
The Bernard Osher Foundation
A great place to start your search for senior college programs is with the Osher Foundation, which sponsors programs at over 120 schools across the nation. Iowa State University is one of the many locations of this program, which offers seniors classes ranging from 4-6 weeks at the rate of $45-$60 for a class.
While there isn’t a specific format to how an Osher Foundation program works, there are a few key consistencies amongst the programs they sponsor. Their programs are for adults 50 and older who are seeking non-credit educational programs. They have the support of the leadership at the colleges and universities involved, claim a diverse range of courses, and routinely gauge the satisfaction of course participants.
You can find more information, including a complete list of schools that participate with the Osher foundation on their website.
Many universities have tuition waivers available to senior students. In Missouri, all residents over the age of 65 attending a state-supported institution are exempt from paying tuition when auditing classes. A similar deal is offered for students over the age of 60 at the University of Kansas and Oklahoma State University. The blog A Senior Citizen Guide for College has a list you can use to jump start your search for a university near you that offers reduced or waived tuition for seniors. This list isn’t exhaustive, so have a chat with your preferred college if it’s not on the list to see what your options may be.
FAFSA, 529, and Tax breaks
If you are interested in studying a course for credit or studying somewhere where tuition waivers aren’t available, you will find that you still have plenty of opportunity at your fingertips. The options you came across when your children or grandchildren applied for school may apply to you as well!
Research scholarships online to see if you can find anything that you qualify for. Be sure to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). If you show that you need financial assistance and are attending college at least part time, your age doesn’t exempt you from receiving state or federal aid.
Do you have money left in a 529 College Savings Account from one of your family members? You can change yourself to the beneficiary and use the remaining money to pay your college expenses.
Last of all, remember to claim your education tax break. You’ll deserve that break after all your hard work in class!