About 13-16% of New York’s population consists of people who are above the age of 65. A good amount of them are illiterate or didn’t finish school.
Those who want to learn or go back to college are hindered by the gargantuan costs of going to college.
Are there free college courses for senior citizens in New York state? You will find out in this article.
Before we get to that, let me clear up the misconception of free colleges for seniors in NYS by answering this question.
Can seniors go to college for free in New York?
Senior citizens can go to college for free or at an affordable cost in New York. People who are above the age of 60 can audit classes for free, apply for scholarships and grants or apply for programs and waivers created for them.
Most state and public colleges in the state allow seniors to audit classes without paying tuition if there’s available space. The New York State law allows residents 60 years or older to audit credit-bearing classes at state-affiliated campuses free of charge.
The scholarship route may be hard for someone who is above 60 since you are competing with kids whose minds are sharper than blade but trust me, it’s worth it. You can try the Excelsior Scholarship, it helps you get a free college degree at any CUNY (City University of New York) or SUNY (State University of New York) college.
Winners are known to receive more than 5 grand from the program although it doesn’t cover other fees like accommodation and transportation. You must earn less than $125,000 annually and meet other requirements to be eligible for the scholarship.
Is CUNY free for senior citizens?
CUNY is free for senior citizens who are above the age of 60 and legal residents of New York State. You can apply for auditing undergraduate classes in CUNY institutions without paying tuition.
This means you will not get any academic credit for it and your application may be rejected if there’s no space. You are also going to pay other fees required.
Another way you can study at CUNY institutions for free as a senior citizen is by applying for financial aid programs you are eligible for.
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Free colleges for senior citizens in New York
So what are these colleges where learning is free for senior citizens in New York?
Queensborough Community College
Residents of the New York City who are 60 years or above may apply as non-matriculated audit-only students at Queensborough College for free based on the availability of space.
You are going to submit some required docs showing your proof of age and New York City address. The $65 senior fee and $15 consolidation fees are to be paid during registration.
Note that you are not receiving any academic credit or grades, if you want to, you need to pay the tuition and other applicable fees.
Suffolk County Community College
Senior citizens who reside in Suffolk County can attend credit-bearing courses without paying tuition, this doesn’t mean you won’t pay the required college fees.
This is an opportunity for you to learn and develop your professional/personal interests by auditing classes. Just like Queensborough College, no grades are recorded or earned.
Note that this waiver isn’t applicable to non-credit courses or continuing education. For more information, you can contact the Campus Registrar’s Office.
Rockland Community College
Rockland Community College (part of the state university of New York schools) has a Senior Adult Audit program that waives the tuition for senior citizens who are interested in auditing credit courses.
Taking the courses for credit means that you are going to pay the tuition by yourself. This might be quite expensive as they cost $25 per credit.
Registrations are processed within 7 days and those interested in the waiver can contact Allegrah Abrahams, the Assistant Registrar of the College.
Monroe Community College
Monroe Community College offers a tuition discount for senior citizens and you can also audit classes without paying the tuition. I will talk about the 2 programs.
The college is offering a 50% discount on tuition to residents of Monroe County who are 60 or over. The waiver is not applicable to other fees (registration, accommodation, laboratory, etc).
You can also audit a course at MCC, they are tuition-free but you may be billed for parking fees. You must be at least 60 years old, a resident of New York State and you must register for classes during spring and fall semesters only.
Binghampton University Older Adult Program
Who wouldn’t want to study at the best public university in New York and one of the best higher institutions in the country?
Guess what; Binghampton University created the Older Adult Audit Program for residents who are 60 years or older to audit classes for free. There are no records kept and you won’t receive any college credit.
The application process is very simple. Once you know the course you wish to audit, fill out the instructor approval form, and submit it to Harpur Academic Advising.
It will take less than a month to process your application and you will be notified via email once you are in. The mail contains your student information and instructions.
No colleges or universities in New York offer tuition-free to senior citizens who want to earn credits unless they are on a full-ride scholarship or financial aid program. The best they can do is allow them to audit or observe classes for free.
Nobody wants to waste their time studying or learning with nothing to show for it. It’s better you apply to colleges offering tuition discounts for senior citizens or a scholarship program.