How To Get Education Grants for Seniors

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It’s never too late to learn something new. If you have retired fairly early on and you’re still in good health, you may want to learn something new or pursue a passion you never had the chance to when you were younger.

How To Get Education Grants for Seniors

There are many educational institutions who are designing courses or even full programs for seniors, and those who want to learn something new or maybe even take on a second career,

Paying for post-secondary education can be really expensive for anyone at any time in their lives, and seniors may not want use their pensions or hard earned savings to pay for these courses. Thankfully, there are many grants and programs funded by the government and private agencies to help seniors pay for courses if they want to take them.

Federal Pell Grants

Before seniors look anywhere else, they should look up and complete the Department of Education’s free application for federal student aid. When seniors complete this application and are approved, they are usually awarded a bursary known as the Federal Pell Grant.

This grant can award seniors up to $5,500 towards paying for education and courses they want to take. Additionally, if it turns out you are not eligible for this grant there are so many other grants many seniors will qualify for. So if you don’t get this one don’t worry – there’s still many options.


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Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

You do not have to be eligible for the Pell Grant to receive the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, however students who receive the Pell Grant will be given preference for this one so it will definitely help you receive additional funding if you received the first one.

senior woman studying with her laptop

Similar to the Pell Grant, this opportunity grant is a need-based fund, so income and financial situations will be taken into account when it is decided who gets this money each year. If you are given this grant, you can expect to receive somewhere between $100 and $4,000 over the course of the academic year.

Academic Competitiveness Grant

To qualify for this grant, students do have to be eligible for the Federal Pell Grant. This grant, however, is not a need-based grant but it is a merit-based one. If you receive this grant, you could get $750 in your first year of college, and then it will increase to $1,300 in your second.

Unlike a few other grants listed in this article, this grant requires students to have at least a 3.0 GPA to qualify for this opportunity.

The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant)

Like the other grants mentioned here, to receive this grant students must also be eligible for the Federal Pell Grant. Eligible senior citizens could receive up to $4,000 in their junior and senior years of college, but they must maintain a 3.0 GPA to qualify and must have a major in science, mathematics or technology.

These three areas are considered high need areas so many employers are looking for talented individuals pursing these fields, and this grant can help seniors who want a second career finish their degree.


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Individual Educational Institutional Grants

Many individual educational organizations have their own grant system that awards monies to students based on merit and financial need.

For seniors who do not have the financial means to go back to school and fully pay their own way, schools have help for them. Students will need to speak with the financial counselors at the school to see what their options are and exactly how much money they need to complete their education.

reading a book


The AARP is the American Association of Retired Persons, and it is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping the elderly and senior citizens across the country. The AARP offers quite a bit of assistance to its members to help them with their daily needs, including education assistance.

In some cases they may even offer as much as one full year of tuition to someone who wants to go back to school. The only catch to this option is that you need to pursuing an Associate’s Degree or Bachelor’s Degree at a technical or vocational school. So if you are just taking a few interest courses here and there this might not be an option for you to receive the financial assistance.

State-Based Financial Assistance

Some states across the country have actually waived tuition costs for senior citizens who wish to attend post-secondary.

Most recently, those states include

  • Vermont
  • New Hampshire
  • Connecticut
  • New Jersey
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Alaska

You will have to check with your local post-secondary institution to see how you fill out the tuition waiver and get your education costs covered.


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Other Ways To Help With Tuition

Going to any kind of post-secondary institution can be really expensive, even if you’re a senior citizen and you have a good chunk of savings behind you. If you are looking for ways to continue on with your education but cut some of the costs, here are a few ideas.

Audit a Class

Many schools will allow older students the opportunity to audit a few of their classes for free, or at a cheaper rate per course. This is a great option for older students or senior citizens because often times they are not really concerned with finishing a degree, but are more so just interested in furthering their education and learning new things. In this way, you can enjoy the subjects that interest you and you are passionate about without the big price tag attached to it.

In addition to this, some colleges or universities will let you take a class or two free every semester with other regular tuition classes. This will likely work out to just having discounted tuition for you when you enroll for a whole semester.

Online Classes

In some cases, online classes are a little cheaper than in-person classes (prior to COVID protocols, of course). You can look into the course catalog for the school in your area to see if they offer cheaper options for certain courses.

attending online class


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Used Textbooks

As any student knows, the textbooks to go with the courses are often just as much money as registering for the course itself. Oftentimes, the bookstore on campus will offer a buyback program for textbooks that are in great condition and will resell them to students just taking the course at a discounted rate.

You will want to make sure you check the version of the textbook as sometimes publishers will issue a new version with specific things changed in it and your instructor will want the specific version.

Tax Credits

Now this doesn’t help you right away, unfortunately, however there are many tax credits that are available to post-secondary students to make their taxable income less and maybe even provide a better return for students.

Consider a College Instead of a Private University

As mentioned, seniors often take courses for interests and to pursue their passions now that they have the time to do it as opposed to going in the interest of finishing a degree. With this in mind, community colleges often have lower tuition costs than private universities.

college library

So if you can find the same, or similar enough, course at a community college this might help you save some money or help your money go further when it comes to paying for the tuition.


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Final Thoughts

Going back to school as a senior citizen can be overwhelming, especially if you haven’t been ins school for a long time. There are technologies being used in schools now that were likely not around the last time you were in a classroom.

There isn’t an upper age limit to learning, and going back to school at any age can be incredibly beneficial to our lives. Even if you’re worried about keeping up with others in the class, the school is there to support you and your needs in going back to school.

However, now that you are retired and you have a lot of extra time on your hands you may want to take a few classes out of interest that you just didn’t have the time for before.

So even if you are not going to be starting a second career, and just want to expand your interests, you can definitely take advantage of the assistance made available to seniors across the country. As mentioned, in many states they have completely waived tuition for seniors who want to go back to school.

If you have questions about how you get started going back to school, you can always reach out to the counsellors at your local college or university and they will be able to direct you to where you need to go. The tuition and financial offices often have huge resources available to help you find all the possible scholarships and grants you can apply for – and they will have all the up to date information on how qualifies and how you can apply for each one. Don’t let age intimidate you, go back to school and pursue those passion areas you always wanted to!