By Ana Stanic
Edited by Linda Ruble
Adult Auditing is popular at St. Petersburg College and public colleges/universities all across Florida. This is because of the Senior Citizen Tuition Fee Waiver program in place in Florida. Any state residents age 60 or older may audit classes and attend for free. They do not receive college credit, but many older students agree it is something fun to do in their spare time. Students who are adult auditing can sign up for classes one day after all other students. This ensures that there is space in the class.
Julia Rissler, an adult auditing student at St. Petersburg/Gibbs campus, states that she takes classes which are of special interest to her and pays few course fees. She does have to purchase her own textbooks and course materials, but without the cost of tuition, the expenses are nominal. She has no desire to enter a degree-seeking program as she is a retired school teacher. She attends the classes because she enjoys “the class discussions and the student participation; along with learning from the educated professors” that SPC has to offer.
When someone adult audits a class, they may complete only the coursework they choose. For Julia, this means in-class and out-of-class assignments for her Creative Writing class, but only the readings and class discussions for her History class. She reads the chapters that go along with the lectures, but doesn’t do any of the other assignments. She completes them for her Creative Writing class because she finds them to be of more interest to her. Of the twelve students in her evening Creative Writing class, four are auditors.
“How much work they do is pretty much a negotiation between the student and the teacher with whom they are auditing,” says Mindy Conlin, a Career & Academic Advisor at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs campus. “Oftentimes, the teachers ask for audit student comments and suggestions on the class and coursework. SPC encourages this because their input is valuable for improving classes and coursework. Some of the Adult Auditors participate in collaborative labs at the EpiCenter, and have helped departments develop year-long plans. Their input is an important resource to SPC and I enjoy accommodating their class desires. Many of the students come into my office and don’t know what classes they want to take, they just tell me their interests and I help them develop a semester schedule. Some students take one class, some take three or four. There is no limit, as long as there is open space in the class.”
Adult Auditing is beneficial to the State of Florida because of the high percentage of senior citizens. According to the US Census in 2010, 22%, almost 1/4th of the state’s population, is age 65 or older. Many of these individuals moved to the state after retirement. The State of Florida boasts that they can enjoy retirement here and, because of this, they choose to incentivize moving in state even more by offering the Senior Citizen Tuition Fee Waiver program. Twenty-eight states offer some kind of tuition waiver for senior citizens. Of these twenty-eight states, only four offer completely free college-level courses like Florida.
Adult Auditing is beneficial to the State of Florida because of the high percentage of senior citizens.
Header photo from bellviewcollege.edu (shutterstock)
Originally published on June 29, 2016