State Senator Hassell-Thompson Heralds Education Bill Benefiting New York’s Senior Citizens

Ruth Hassell-Thompson

March 01, 2009

State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Bronx/Westchester) today announced that the Senate passed a bill which would allow seniors in New York State to take college courses for credit without paying tuition at State-operated campuses.

"In 1974, seniors in New York were given the opportunity to audit courses at the State University without tuition or credit. This bill would expand on that law by enabling seniors, aged 60 and over to attend courses without tuition while also receiving credit for their courses," the Bronx/Westchester lawmaker said.

Senator Hassell-Thompson noted that while the 1974 law was a step in the right direction, it left much to be desired.

"By permitting seniors to gain credit for their course work we are providing them with an opportunity to further their education as well as challenge themselves. To be able to participate in college courses as a regular student enables them to fully immerse themselves in their studies. This legislation is especially beneficial to retirees who can use this as a way to keep themselves active and involved in the community," said Senator Hassell-Thompson.

Seniors will be allowed a maximum of nine credit hours per semester, and the availability of the courses will be on a space-available basis. Once enrolled in the courses, seniors who are taking the course tuition free will be able to interact with their professors and fellow students and be graded like the rest of the class.

Senator Hassell-Thompson is now urging the Assembly to act on this bill. "This legislation will have a tremendous impact on seniors throughout the state. Participating in college course work will enrich the lives and stimulate the minds of those who are eligible for tuition free enrollment," Senator Hassell-Thompson stated. "For some it might be a continuation of their studies, and for others the opportunity to take a college course for the first time. Either way it will have a positive and lasting impact on the senior community."