Going Back to School in Retirement

posted on Tuesday, August 23, 2016

As classes resume, young people aren’t the only demographic heading into the classroom. Increasingly, the new student body includes retirees. The motivation behind seniors’ return to school varies from one seasoned student to another. Some view retirement as a chance to pursue an interest put on hold while they were working or to start a second career in a whole new area. Others plan to continue working in their current field but may need to increase their skills or brush up on technology updates to remain competitive.

Many public colleges and universities offer tuition waivers or discounts to older students taking courses for credit. Individuals who are still working may receive tuition assistance from their employer. Retirees can also use any money remaining in a 529 plan they funded for children for their own educational pursuits.

For those not concerned about earning credits, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute supports 119 programs on university and college campuses across the country that offer non-credit courses for adults 50 years or older. Membership, which starts at $210 a year, provides considerable discounts for a certain number of courses per term. Other institutions often allow mature students to audit classes at no charge or a greatly reduced cost.

Professors are often welcoming, appreciating older students’ motivation, varied interests and rich life experiences. But for those who are uncomfortable in a largely younger crowd or who can’t find desired courses nearby, Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, can be a viable option. EdX offers over 500 online courses from leading institutions in a wide range of subject matter.

Many seniors do enjoy interacting with young people and relish the intellectual stimulation and cultural activities connected to the academic community. So much so, that some of them move to university towns or to retirement communities on or near university campuses. In addition to course offerings, residents of university-based retirement communities often have access to the university library, fitness center, concerts, guest speakers and athletic events.

A well-rounded retirement plan explores your desired lifestyle and how best to achieve it while planning for contingencies. Starting early gives you the best opportunity for success. Call our office at 515-246-8378 to begin or update your retirement plan for a more complete picture.

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