Free College Courses for Senior Citizens in New York

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About 13-16% of New York’s population comprises people over 65. A good amount of them are illiterate or didn’t finish school. The huge costs hinder those who want to learn or return 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 affordable in New York. People over 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 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 above 60 since you are competing with kids whose minds are sharper than blades 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 five 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 seniors above 60 and New York State legal residents. You can apply for auditing undergraduate classes in CUNY institutions without paying tuition.

This means you will not get academic credit for it, and your application may be rejected without 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 the financial aid programs you are eligible for.

Free Colleges for senior citizens in New York

So what are these colleges where learning is free for senior citizens in New York?

1. Queensborough Community College

Residents of New York City who are 60 years or above may apply as non-matriculated audit-only students at Queensborough College for free based on space availability.

You will submit some required docs showing your proof of age and New York City address. The $65 senior fee and $15 consolidation fees will be paid during registration.

Note that you are not receiving any academic credit or grades. You need to pay the tuition and other applicable fees if you want to.

2. 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 through auditing classes. Just like Queensborough College, no grades are recorded or earned.

Note that this waiver doesn’t apply to non-credit courses or continuing education. For more information, you can contact the Campus Registrar’s Office.

3. 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 interested in auditing credit courses.

Taking the courses for credit means you will pay the tuition yourself. This might be quite expensive as they cost $25 per credit. Registrations are processed within seven days, and those interested in the waiver can contact Allegrah Abrahams, the Assistant Registrar of the College.

4. 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 two programs.

The college offers a 50% discount on tuition to residents of Monroe County who are 60 or over. The waiver does not apply 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 only register for classes during the spring and fall semesters.

5. Binghamton 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; Binghamton University created the Older Adult Audit Program for residents who are 60 years or older to audit classes for free. No records are 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 to allow them to audit or observe classes for free.

Nobody wants to waste their time studying or learning with nothing to show. It’s better to apply to colleges offering college tuition discounts for senior citizens or a scholarship program.


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