Free University For Seniors

Free University For Seniors

Free University For Seniors

So when you reach the golden age of 60 what do you plan to do? Travel the world, spend time with family, learn some new skills or even keep on working? Well, you’re in luck if you want to keep on learning! A couple of universities in Toronto are now offering free tuition for undergraduate and graduate programs for those over 60.

The universities that offer free education are York University and Ryerson (update: free tuition has been phased out at Ryerson). It also sounds pretty easy to get the benefits. They will automatically return tuition costs if you turn 60 years old before September 1st during the application year. This tuition rebate covers individuals that study either full-time or part-time. For example, the average price of an undergraduate program at York University costs $6,907 per year, which is a massive savings for those interested.

A couple of areas require caution, specifically the tax consequences. York states that any tuition rebate is a fully taxed benefit, meaning that it will be taxed like earning extra income. So proper tax planning should be done, and a tax professional can be used if you’re unsure about the tax consequences. Further, tuition rebates can vary by program. York states the following limit, “The fee waiver is capped for senior citizens to the level of tuition fees assigned to domestic, non-professional undergraduate or graduate arts, science and other programs as defined in the tuition fee guidelines from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.” So just speak to administration to verify how much of the program is covered.

Overall, this is a great program for individuals who want to learn about new topics and ideas.

Thank you for reading, and as always, if you have any questions please contact me at or 647-289-0012.

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Direct Link to the Universities’ tuition rebate websites;

York University-

14 thoughts on “Free University For Seniors

  1. Brian Mallett

    I am now in my early eighties. When I was employed I worked as an aircraft technician in the Royal Air Force, an aircratft inspector, and as an electrical/electronic technologist. I obtained a Higher National Certificate in Electrical and Electronic Engineering whilst still in England. I started a Bsc in Business Admin course at York University in the 1980’s and only obtained two credits prior to the death of a family member. I would like to do something with the rest of my life where i can make a difference.

    1. Matthew Siwiec Post author

      Thank you for sharing your personal story Brian,

      There’s quite a few programs that may benefit you. Ryerson University also offers several unique programs and activities for those that are over 50 years old. Here’s a link to their information

      Also, there’s a really neat community group that holds events where individuals can repair electronic items for the public. They treat their volunteers really well and your background is ideal. I actually just wrote an article about them here

  2. Charmaine

    I am a 55 single mom with two kids still at home. I have a social service worker diploma and a BA in sociology completed more than 20 years ago. I have been working as a DSW for the last 22 years but now would like to return to school. I am not sure what my options would be as far as careers at this point in my life and what would be worth or not worth investing in at my age. I would consider a career change as well. I am looking at a change that would allow me to still work part time into retirement age for awhile.

    1. Matthew Siwiec Post author

      Hello Charmaine!

      There are a couple options that my help you achieve your goal of going back to school. The first is the option listed above, and the second is by possibly using the new Ontario Tuition grant. You would have to qualify for each of these programs, but they may assist you in achieving your goals.

      If you like, you can email me at and we can see if you would qualify for these programs.


  3. Patricia A. (Newell) Lombardi

    Hello Matthew,
    Goals, Experience, and Background:
    I just turned sixty-five in January 2017 and would like to do an undergraduate degree @ Ryerson University commencing September 2017 in Social Work. I worked 25+ years in Accounting but have always wanted to work to improve the life circumstances for the underprivileged; especially children and elders; working as a volunteer in Toronto Housing Community Corporation (“TCHC”) seniors building wear I have lived for almost 2 years.

    I am the Janet Magee Manor (“JMM”) Delegate for 2015 and 2016; also the JMM Team Leader (Advocate), and I am a Committee Member on the Participatory Budget Committee (“PBC”) since October 2015 at TCHC. I was successful in receiving approval on the PB2015 Tile/Carpet Replacement Project, where I gave a two (2) minute (timed) speech that got our building (JMM) $150K ( or = 24% of the Total Budget $656,500K) for 43 buildings (Later extended to $165K by our PBC Members). As a Team Leader for JMM, I have assisted many senior tenents with getting their Annual Rent Review Forms completed and delivered, assist them with Rogers Cable problems, get their new OHIP card, get repairs done on their units, get a transfer within our building, meet with TCHC Management on their behalf, and/or arrange and facilitate Tenenats’ Meetings @ JMM where TCHC Managers attend to workout issues with Tenants, and I worked with several tenants to get 65-signature petition and present to TCHC Area Manager. In 2014, I alone got TCHC to fix the heater in the indoor pool (took 3 months of persistence and tracking) and to get a “Green Pass” for the Community Centre Tenant Volunteers (with the assistance of Toronto Health & Building Licence Departments and it took 3 months of persistence) where I previously lived (Gordonridge Place), in Scarborough.
    I worked in Accounting for 25+ years; including ~5 years for Chartered Accountnats. I found fraud of $150K (over a 10 year period) while working as an Audit Technician; preventing future losses. The fraud was discovered while I worked for Mintz & Partners C.A., under Harley Mintz (now a part of KPMG).
    I have accomplished much as a Mother, with two highly successful and responsible adult children (son 32 yrs. & daughter 30yrs.). Both are university graduates; both put themselves through university by working part-time. My son is a Ryerson Graduate in Business; held 3 part-time jobs while attending Ryerson and he was on the Student Council in Business; receiving an honorarium at the end of his final year for his outstanding work on Frosh Week. He later did his Certified Management Accountant designation (“CMA”) while working full-time for Millwood Brown. My daughter graduated from York University in Music, while on a partial scolarship and working 1 part-time job. She returned to university and completed her Piano Tuning and Restoration disgnations over a 3 year period. My son currently works as the Senior Strategist & Analyst for Nissan Canada and my daughter works as a Piano Technician @ University of Toronto.
    Unfortunately, my marriage of twenty-eight years ended in January 2002, when I turned fifty years old and decided I had enough of the emotional and financial abuse from my husband. Our children were 17 years and 15 years old at the time. They both decided to leave with me and did so, on January 5, 2002. However; I did not interfere with them seeing their dad at any time and they continue to do so. My Ex did “allegedly” take our son’s RESP funds and force me into Bankruptcy in October 2003. It was unable to get approval for OSAP when I applied to Ryerson some 10 years ago for the Social Work Undergraduate Degree, although I did get accepted.
    I am a former Ryerson student; attended Ryerson in 1971-1973 in the Fashion Design Programme and I successfully completed 2 years (of a 3 year Programme) with straight As (as “grade marks” we’re then shown).
    I am a survivor!!!
    I am also kind, compassionate, genuine, and passionate in everything I do.
    I have great references:
    1.) From a former co-worker in 1978; named Anthony C.; currently a C.G.A. and C.P.A.; owns his own business & insurance company; knows me since 1974.
    2.) Previous accounting clients, Anna & Otto A.; know me 43 years (1974).
    3.) Current JMM tenant for 1yr., Phyllis T., knows me since April 2016 (move in date); retired from City Housing.
    4.) Current JMM tenant for 7 years, Linda H., knows me since June 1, 2015 (my move in date); retired.
    5.) Current JMM tenant for 16 years, Dermot K., knows me since June 1, 2015; retired.
    6.) Paul Feitelberg, Area Manager “A” for TCHC; knows me well for assisting tenants in JMM seniors building since I moved in (2015) and became Tenant Leader and Delegate.

    1.) Does Ryerson not allow seniors (65+ years) FREE education for Undergraduate Programmes any more?
    2.) Do I have any other alternatives for getting my tuition paid @ Ryerson University?

    Financial Situation:
    I will be receiving my 1st (first) Canada Pension Plan (“CPP”) and Old Age Security (“OAS”) cheque at the end of February 2017 (likely by Friday February 24, 2017). I “DO NOT” have any idea how much I will be getting, however; Revenue Canada sent me the Guaranteed Income Supplement (“GIS”) form to complete as I was on Ontario Disability Support Plan (“ODSP”). My total income from CPP and OAS is not likely to exceed 1,200.00 per month and the maximum GIS has just been increased to $78.66 per month. So my annual income will not exceed $15,000.00. I am receiving subsidized housing from TCHC and live in one of their seniors’ buildings in mid-town Toronto. Would be grateful for any assistance you could provide me.
    Thank you for the information provided. Would you kindly answer my 2 questions? Patricia

    1. Matthew Siwiec Post author

      Thank you so much for contacting me Patricia!

      Ryerson has officially cancelled their tuition waiver for seniors, but they still offer free non-degreed general information courses. York University is the only school that offers free tuition to those over 60 years of age.

      However, the new Ontario Tuition Grant is coming into effect this fall, and you may be able to qualify for free tuition through that program. Full details have not been released, but it seems that mature students with low household income will also qualify for the program. This may be the best opportunity if you want to pursue a degree at Ryerson.

      Hope that this helps!

  4. Ana


    I am 67, and interested in pursuing an online PhD in Art/Education. I have a MEd and other strong academic qualifications plus decades of professional work. Is there any tuition-free opportunity?

    Thank you

    1. Matthew Siwiec Post author

      Hello and thank you for contacting me Ana,

      According to the York University fee website, you are allowed to apply for one graduate degree. So I would verify with them that your desired program qualifies. Here’s what York states;

      The fee waiver is capped for senior citizens to the level of tuition fees assigned to domestic, non-professional undergraduate or graduate arts, science and other programs as defined in the tuition fee guidelines from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. The tuition fee waiver for an eligible senior citizen is restricted to a maximum of one (1) undergraduate and one (1) graduate degree.

      Another opportunity would be the possibility of using the new Ontario Tuitions Grant. Full details have not been released yet, but it seems like mature students will be covered under the new grant. Of course, other qualifications will be required.

      Hope that this helps and best of luck with your future studies!

  5. Musarrat zAIDI

    Idea of free degree program for seniors is good, but how tax matters are involved here, seniors who do not work , do not pay any tax. How you can call it free if you ask for money?

    1. geoff

      ummm… income from pensions, income from CPP, OAS….. that’s… you know.. income.

      Personally I’m not so sure of the idea of free tuition for seniors, I don’t get it — especially in the province of ontario which has some of the most indebted young students of any generation…

      1. Matthew Siwiec Post author

        Very good point Geoff! Universal Senior’s Benefits are indeed a highly debated topic in the world of finance and one that is growing in controversy. Personally, I support a needs-based benefit that is founded on household or individual income.

  6. beatriz maldonado

    Hello Matthew, I am interesting in knowing if there are tuition free courses/programs, for seniors in Kitchener- Waterloo. I did take courses at York some 15 years ago, but did not finish my bachelor. now i am moving to Kitchener and would love to go back to school.
    Thank you so much,

    1. Matthew Siwiec Post author

      Hello Beatriz!

      I am not aware of any tuition free universities in your region, but mature students do qualify for the new OSAP grant. Qualification depends on your household structure and if you are studying full-time.

      Hope that this helps!

      – M

  7. Kevin Wall

    I disagree, I am 61. I think the trick for old age is to keep an active mind. Anything that will help us elderly do that is a positive and cost saving measure. So if I can take a grad degree for free, I will; if I can’t I won’t. That makes a difference to me and others my age. We are trying to get by on fixed incomes because the employment situation, here in Toronto is brutal. The government’s policy is to import young workers and get rid of the elderly.

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