Top 8 Free-Tuition College Programs for Seniors

Check out these free or heavily-discounted tuition programs specifically tailored for seniors. 

As individuals enter their golden years, many find themselves seeking opportunities for personal growth, intellectual stimulation and continued learning. One avenue that is increasingly gaining attention in the older generation is higher education. Across the United States, several colleges and universities offer free or heavily-discounted tuition programs specifically tailored for seniors. 

The University of Alaska

The University of Alaska System stands out for its Senior Citizen Tuition Waiver Program, allowing permanent residents of Alaska who are aged 65 and above to audit or take classes for credit without paying tuition fees. This Tuition Waiver program provides seniors with access to a wide range of courses and educational resources, fostering a vibrant learning community across campuses in Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Juneau. 

University of Delaware

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Delaware offers non-credit courses, in-person or online lectures, and events specifically designed for adults aged 50 and older. As one of the largest learning programs in the country, OLLI provides affordable educational opportunities to older people looking to continue their educational opportunities.

The program is structured as volunteer-based academic cooperatives, where members teach or take courses determined by member interest and the passions of instructors. Classes don’t include grades, exams or educational prerequisites, and include subjects like art, history, literature, science and more. 

University of Hawaii

Seniors aged 60 and above residing in Hawaii can take advantage of the University of Hawaii's Senior Citizen Visitor Program, which allows them to enroll in credit courses on a space-available basis without paying tuition fees. This program enables seniors to explore diverse academic interests across the university's campuses, from Honolulu to Hilo, fostering lifelong learning and community engagement.

Those part of the visitor program are not charged tuition and may attend one class per semester on a “space-available” basis. Eligibility requirements include seniors aged 60 years or older, and bona fide residency in Hawaii. 

University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota offers a Senior Citizen Education Program (SCEP), which allows permanent Minnesota residents aged 62 and older to enroll in undergraduate courses for credit on a space-available basis at no cost. SCEP is part of a Minnesota state statute that lets qualifying seniors to either audit or each college credit regardless whether they’ve already earned a degree.

Seniors can choose from a wide range of subjects offered at the university's campuses in Minneapolis and St. Paul. They can enhance their knowledge and skills, while interacting with students and faculty. 

University of North Carolina

Several campuses within the University of North Carolina System offer tuition-free courses for seniors aged 65 and older. While specific offerings and eligibility criteria may vary by institution, seniors can explore opportunities for lifelong learning and personal enrichment at universities such as UNC Chapel Hill, NC State University, and UNC Asheville, among others.


Senior students who audit a course are expected to attend classes regularly, while participating in class discussions and tests/exams are optional. Like with similar university programs, eligible students must reside in the university’s state. 

University of California

The University of California System offers a Fee Waiver Program for California residents aged 60 and above. This program allows seniors to enroll in regular-session undergraduate or graduate courses without paying several fees, including: 

  • Tuition fee 

  • Application fee 

  • Health Services fee 

  • Instructional Related Activities fee  

 

This fee waiver opportunity enables seniors to access world-class education and research opportunities across UC campuses, including UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC San Diego. 

City University of New York (CUNY)

CUNY's Senior Citizen Auditor Program allows New York City residents aged 60 and older to audit undergraduate courses. These courses are offered by participating colleges and universities within the CUNY system on a space-available basis.

While seniors do not receive academic credit, they can benefit from attending lectures, participate in discussions, and engage with faculty and students across a diverse range of disciplines. Senior Citizen Auditors can be part of the more than 500 lifelong learners who get to continue their education in their golden years. 

Florida State University

Florida State University offers a Senior Citizen Tuition Fee Waiver Program. This program allows Florida residents aged 60 and older to enroll in credit courses on a space-available basis without paying tuition fees. Seniors can choose from a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses offered at FSU's main campus in Tallahassee and other locations statewide, fostering lifelong learning and intellectual growth. 

Whether through tuition waivers, discounted programs, or specialized institutes, institutions are opening their doors to older adults seeking intellectual stimulation, personal growth, and community engagement. By taking advantage of these opportunities, seniors can continue to expand their horizons, pursue their passions, and embrace the joys of lifelong learning without the financial burden of tuition fees.