Lifelong Learner? College in Your Future?

Look around. Doesn’t it seem like there are many more older people than ever before? Aren’t those you see far more socially active than any their age in the past? They are far more vibrant and happier, and even challenge younger people to keep up with them.

Years ago, age 60 or 65 was considered really old. It was considered the last phase of life and everything from that point on was downhill. Many younger people wanted nothing to do with them. That is no longer true.

Now Age 60 or 65 is a Starting Point

People reaching that age may retire but they don’t sit back and wait for age and illness to creep up on them. They are full of life and want to experience all those things they had no time for while they were working.

Most still desire to learn as much as they can. They will continue to read and study up to the day they die. Many are going back to school and taking classes they always wanted to. Colleges have opened their doors to them and are very accommodating.

Two Special Incentives for Those 60 and Older to Take College Classes

You may not know this: Here in Tennessee, there are two special incentives for people 60 and older to take college classes. The first is for those 60 to 64. The second is for those 65 and older. Let’s look at the incentive for those 65 and older first.

Under state law, a person 65 and older can take courses for credit at state-supported colleges and universities and not have to pay tuition charges, maintenance fees, student activity fees or registration fees.

The colleges and universities can charge a service fee to defray what it costs them to keep records on each of these students. Those fees cannot exceed $45 a quarter or $70 a semester.

In the Knoxville-Knox County area there are 2 state-supported schools – The University of Tennessee and Pellissippi State Community College.

The University of Tennessee charges an application fee of $50 for an undergraduate or $60 for a graduate. Then the charge is $7 per credit. For a three-credit course the charge would be $21. The maximum a person has to pay is $70 in any one semester.

At Pellissippi State, those 65 years of age or older are eligible to enroll in courses on a space-available basis for credit. The charge cannot exceed $70 per semester.

At both schools, the person would have to pay for books and other fees unique to a course or courses they are enrolled in.

Those interested in attending a course or courses at the University of Tennessee can contact Peggy Love. Peggy’s email address is Those interested in courses at Pellissippi State can contact the business office at the school. The email address is

The other incentive is for those 60 and older. They can audit classes at the University of Tennessee or Pellissippi State without paying any fees. The only requirement is there has to be space available in the class they desire to audit.

Auditing a Class

To those unfamiliar with "auditing a course." It means you can sit in on the course, attend all or some of the classes. However, you don’t have to do the homework. Nor do you take the tests. In some classes, you would not be able to ask questions.

At the University of Tennessee, the person has to get permission from the instructor to audit his or her class. A special form has to be completed. Information on this can be obtained from Peggy Love. Her email address again is

At Pellissippi State, it does not appear a special form has to be completed. Anyone interested in auditing a course should check with the business office. That email address is

But I Have This Nagging Fear

Taking a class or auditing one may be interesting for you but in the back of your mind there’s a nagging fear. You’re worried that you won’t fit in with all those "younger" students. Don’t let that concern you. You have much to offer them. Think about this:

In 2007, Nola Ochs became a Guinness World Record Holder. She was recognized as the world’s oldest college graduate when she was awarded a B. A. degree in history from the Fort Hays State University. Nola wasn’t done. She continued in school and was awarded a master’s degree in liberal arts in May of 2010.

In June of 2015, Doreetha Daniels graduated from the College of the Canyons in Santa Clara, California, with an associate’s degree in social science. At that time, Doreetha was 99 years old.

In May of 2016, Alfonso Gonzales received a bachelor of science degree in zoology from the University of Southern California. Alfonzo was 96.

More and more people in their sixties, seventies, and eighties are going back to school. Some want to show everyone they can get that degree that eluded them in the past. Others take classes to learn about things that always fascinated them. Still others have a passion to continue learning.

Most of what younger people in school today know has come from books and classes they’ve attended. You can help them by relating your real-life experiences.

Get Started Now

If you’ve always had a desire to attend college classes, don’t let your age deter you. Check out what the University of Tennessee and Pellissippi State offer. You may want to see what classes are like and how you’ll fit in. So—audit some classes first.

You can get more information about the University of Tennessee by contacting Peggy Love. Her email address is For information about Pellissippi State check with the business office. The email address is