One of the best ways to keep the mind sharp and the brain healthy is education. Many people have embraced the opportunity to become lifelong learners. Despite this, there is a stigma about older students.

You may have heard the adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But the truth is that new skills can be attainted at any age. Consider those who learn how to play new musical instrument, or learn to play an instrument for the first time.

Doing this at any age is the equivalent of a full body workout for your brain. In certain cases, older students are taking courses in order to start a new career, or augment their current set of skills. Others may take classes as a way to enrich their lives in some way.

Besides improving cognitive performance and memory, learning helps the elderly fight the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Currently in the US, there are abundance of educational opportunities available for seniors. Read on to find out about ways for seniors to find educational opportunities and the advantages.

Finding Courses

Learning is a social and personal endeavor. For those who may have been away from college for quite some time, going back to school may be a bit daunting. A good way to get your feet wet is to take a college course, even online. This is an easy way to get connected with others and expand your horizons.

Many people over the age of 55 are going back to school and this trend hasn’t gone unnoticed by educational institutions. There are many programs offered at colleges, universities and private institutions for senior citizens. This includes free classes, reduced fees, tax credits, scholarships and other aid.
How to Enroll

For seniors looking to enroll in local programs, there are only a few basic requirements. It doesn’t matter if you have been to school before, have a graduate degree or are taking classes for the first time. Each school will have slightly different stipulations, but generally they require prospective students to meet the following to enroll and receive senior benefits.

  • Age Requirement of 60 years or older
    Must be a citizen of the US
    Transcripts (i.e. high school diploma) or equivalent testing
    Verification of income
    Senior citizens are eligible to receive the following benefits.
    Tuition Fee Waiver
    Tax Credit
  • Many universities across the US will waive fees or cover a significant portion of tuition for seniors. Fill out the FAFSA (free application for federal student aid) form and go to for more information. It’s best to find out how many programs you qualify through federal aid before considering other options. If you are going to school as an undergrad, the Pell Grant and Supplemental Education Opportunity are two of the most popular programs. On FAFSA’s website you can find a list of schools that offer tuition waivers and grants.
    Tax Deductions for Older Students

    The government gives tax deductions up to $10,000 for the purpose of higher education. Speak with a tax advisor about the benefits available to elderly individuals going back to school.
    How to Audit a Course

    If you don’t qualify for any programs that offer money or waive fees, you can still get a first-class educational experience. Many people who want to learn may audit the course. This means that you can attend lectures but aren’t obligated turn in homework or take exams.

    This alternative allows you to have access to a course without having the same responsibilities as an enrolled student. The bad news is that you won’t receive college credits for auditing a course. To audit a course you must contact the school and make an arrangement with the instructor. This is a good way to get all the social and educational benefits from a class without having to enroll.