Free (or Cheap) College for Retirees in All 50 States

Whether it's to complete a degree, gain new knowledge or just for fun, retirees can collect their books and get on (back) to school in a most inexpensive way.

A senior man graduates with his master's degree
(Image credit: Getty Images )

As a retiree, you’re already a bona-fide graduate of the school of hard knocks – your decades of full-time employment. There’s still a lot to learn, however, whether your goal is pursuing a second act in your career, lifelong learning to keep your brain sharp or to finally complete that long sought-after master's.

Across the country, retirees can take advantage of free (or close to it) college courses for older residents at various public and private institutions. Some programs allow elders as young as 55 to participate.

Most free-tuition programs make older students wait until registration for classes has closed and the add-drop period has ended. In other words, paying students generally get first priority, and you’ll only be able to enroll “on a space-available basis.” In most cases, you have to go through the normal admissions process and be accepted at the college or university before you can enroll in individual classes. And while tuition may be waived, you may encounter fees to apply or register or to use labs, campus gyms, or other resources tied to a particular class. You’ll also have to pay for books and other course materials.

Many free-for-retirees programs only allow you to audit classes, meaning you won’t get college credit. That might be right up your alley, though. Also note that during the pandemic, some colleges may still be doing remote classes. Make sure you're geared up for remote learning.

Take a look.

Editorial Intern, Kiplinger.com