If you’ve always been a lifelong learner, that feeling doesn’t go away once you hit retirement age. It’s very common for retirees to want to pursue continuing education. According to FinAid, “Nontraditional students age 30 and above represent 14.4% of undergraduate students pursuing a Bachelor’s degree.”
But did you know that you can possibly accomplish all of your learning goals at little or no cost to you?
Waivers, Scholarships, and Grants
There are three different ways that you can have the burden of student loan debt be lifted off of your shoulders. Waivers completely do away with your tuition costs, meaning that you are attending classes for free and won’t have to pay the money back. According to US News, “Approximately 60 percent of accredited degree-granting educational institutions offer tuition waivers for older adults, according to a November 2008 survey by the American Council on Education.” You don’t have to pay back grants or scholarships, either, but they usually only cover part of your tuition. All of these options will require you to apply, and it’s important to apply early. Start looking for options several months before you plan on attending classes.
Alternatives to the Traditional University
In addition to attending classes at a regular university, you also have the option to attend a lower-cost community college, take classes online, or audit a class for no credit. Community colleges can offer the high-quality lessons that universities can, depending on the school and program, and come at a fraction of what you would pay to attend traditional university.
The website Get Educated provides a lot of resources for adults looking to take online classes. It helps you find schools, find the degree you want to pursue, and shows you many options for getting yourself through classes with financial aid. Locally, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh promotes learning after retirement and offers up resources of their own. AARP also offers online classes and lectures for someone who has interest in learning more but doesn’t want to enroll in a full program.
Do Your Research
The best thing you can do for yourself is to think about what you would like to learn, research which local institutions or online schools offer your program, and then find out how much financial aid you may be able to receive. A Senior Citizen’s Guide to College offers a list of Pennsylvania schools and the type of financial aid they provide to retirees.
Sherwood Oaks supports our residents’ decision to advance their learning, and in March and October, we have our own brand of continuing education for our residents. Speakers come in to discuss various topics, and the events have become a favorite of residents.
You’re never too old to learn something new – so start doing your research today!