Many community colleges and public universities allow free auditing of classes by older students. There are also several educational programs designed for boomers. Two of the biggest:
Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes: There are OLLI centers on 117 college campuses around the country offering noncredit classes. The OLLI at New York University charges a $250-a-year membership fee for unlimited access to classes on, for example, knitting, will-writing, and personal finance. It also charges members an additional $20 per session for talks by New York Times staffers, baseball historians, and authors such as Malachy McCourt. Yavapai College, a community college in Prescott, Ariz., charges $120 a year for unlimited access to OLLI classes that include microwave cooking, opera for everyone, hiking, and introduction to dowsing. Some OLLI programs also offer financial aid.
Elderhostel: The nonprofit offers pricey educational trips (airfare not included) such as bird-watching in Costa Rica, about $2,000; a safari in Kenya, about $3,700; and a one-day walking tour of art galleries in Manhattan, $100. Elderhostel offers a few scholarships (453 in 2006) worth, typically, $500 to $600.