A senior citizen can get a free education with a tuition waiver, by auditing a course, with a senior citizen scholarship and by living in a retirement community located on a college or university campus. While classes might be free, there could be a fee for parking and books.
Some accredited institutions that offer degrees also offer tuition waivers for senior citizen students. Such waivers might be available only to state residents of a certain age. Waiver programs may have only a limited number of spots available, apply to either credit or non-credit courses and require the written permission of the class instructor. Senior citizens who don't qualify for a tuition waiver may qualify for a tuition discount.
While auditing a course, an individual can sit in on lectures but is exempt from completing homework or taking exams. Doing so doesn't earn the student credit, but he can volunteer to write a paper or complete certain assignments if he chooses to do so.
A special scholarship for a senior citizen might allow him to earn a free education at a two-year college. Such scholarships might not apply to online courses, and students may be required to pay for books. A senior citizen should take a close look at scholarships to see if he is eligible even if the scholarship isn't specifically for senior citizens.