A number of colleges and universities allow seniors to audit classes at a nominal charge or at no cost at all. More and more retirees are taking advantage of these programs. Some universities have had to cap the number of auditing students to keep from flooding popular classes. A growing number of retirement communities have negotiated arrangements with nearby campuses as one of the benefits of living there.
Some of the larger programs include Boston University, where more than one thousand seniors a year audit classes through their Evergreen program. Seniors (58 or older) pay $125 a course. Colleges like Pomona and Penn State offer seniors the opportunity to audit classes free, while the University of Washington charges a small amount per course. Some states like Minnesota and Virginia require in-state universities to allow seniors to audit classes.
Check with your state's department of aging for a list of universities that have "lifelong learning programs" that offer seniors tuition-free courses when space is available. In Ohio, for example, 36 institutions offer no-fee courses to people over 60.
Allowing seniors to audit classes is a win/win for both parties. Many seniors make financial gifts and some include the college in their wills. It is also excellent PR and helps to better integrate the college into the surrounding community in addition to providing an excellent marketing tool.
Take a class at the local community college or take a free course online -- universities that offer online courses include Berkeley University of California http://webcast.berkeley.edu/courses.php,
Carnegie Mellon University http://www.cmu.edu/oli/ Massachusetts Institute of Technology http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/home/home/index.htm and Tufts University http://ocw.tufts.edu/.
For a partial list of colleges and universities that allow auditing of classes go to http://www.google.com and enter “audit classes” in the advanced search box.
In addition to being able to audit classes where no college credit is given, many seniors are continuing their education at on-line schools. A list is located on a subsequent page.
5 prestigious U.S. universities offer free online courses. Check this out at coursera.org