Grants are available for older individuals to return to college. Tuition waivers, volunteer service educational grants, displaced worker grants and even some scholarships are geared toward older students. Each program has its own minimum age for applicants, and can make it possible for older students to get a college education at an affordable cost.
Many states and colleges offer tuition waivers to those over 60 years of age. Seniors can take advantage of opportunities to take non-credit classes, although some states and colleges will give tuition waivers for credit classes as well. Some colleges offer a reduced tuition rate for seniors while others waive fees. Students typically still have to buy their own books. As tuition waivers are forms of financial aid that do not have to be paid back and are not merit based, as many scholarships are, they can be considered a form of financial aid similar to a grant.
College Training for Displaced Workers
A number of federal and state programs offer job training opportunities to workers who have lost their jobs due to layoffs. In particular, the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers (TAA) program of the federal government offers job training benefits in addition to job search and relocation assistance. Workers over the age of 50 can participate in these programs if they lost their jobs because they were relocated outside the United States, because of an increase in imports, or because of a trade-related cause. College training programs as well as employer-based training programs are generally eligible for this program. In fiscal year 2010, participants in the TAA program took an average of 58 weeks of training per person, and 72 percent completed the training programs.
College Grants for Volunteer Work
Through the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, volunteers over the age of 55 may receive education awards for $1,000 for 350 hours of volunteer service. They may use this award for their own college educations or transfer it to their grandchildren.
Special College Programs
Some community colleges have partnered with universities and the AARP, an organization serving people age 50 and older, to provide training opportunities for older workers. For example, Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan, collaborated with AARP Michigan to provide those over 50 with training in health care fields. In 2010, the college announced that it was using a $25,000 grant from a "think tank on boomers, work and social purpose" to train students over age 50 for careers in senior care.
- FinAid; Financial Aid for Older and Nontraditional Students; 2011
- Exforsys Inc.; Difference Between Scholarship and Grant; Dec. 2010
- NASWA: Trade Adjustment for Workers (TAA) and Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance (ATAA); John J. Topoleski; May 2011
- Macomb Community College; Macomb, AARP Creating New Career Pathways for Workers 50-Plus; Sept. 2010
Leyla Norman has been a writer since 2008 and is a certified English as a second language teacher. She also has a master's degree in development studies and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.