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Lifelong Learning and Education

About the Initiative

About 45 million individuals in the US have some college credit but no degree. Barriers such as caregiving responsibilities, the debt burden required to cover the growing cost of education, and difficulty obtaining credit for prior learning keep many from achieving their goal of a diploma. But as the need for an educated and digitally literate workforce increases, education providers, policymakers and employers must adapt to offer more support for older students.

Older learners are education leaders in their families and communities and play a role in improving college attainment rates and reducing educational disparities. When an older adult attains their degree, it raises the likelihood that younger family members will, too.

AARP Public Policy Institute is working with The Graduate! Network on a series of state pilot programs in Kentucky, Texas, and Michigan to help older learners connect with resources and support that can help them overcome barriers, reskill or upskill for their careers, and, for some, fulfill a lifelong dream of higher education.

AARP 50+ Education Comebacker: Dorothy Mae Barr-Moore


50+ Learners: Videos

AARP Michigan: 50+ Educational Comebackers

During an episode of AARP Michigan Real Possibilities, a group of panelists details “The Graduate! Network” and opportunity pathways to help adults achieve their educational pursuits.



This Grandfather Graduated College With His Granddaughter

When his granddaughter started college, Rene Neira decided to work toward his goal of getting a college degree at 88 and was able to graduate with her.



50+ Learners: The Issue

Adult Learners Need Support to Meet Their Education Goals

The number of adults in the U.S. who have some college but no degree is vast: 45 million adults age 25+ or about 20 percent of the adult population. But with the right support from employers, educational institutions and policymakers, they can become the educated workers the economy needs.

An Untapped Source of Skilled Workers: Adults with Some College but No Degree

In their search for educated workers, both employers and state workforce readiness policymakers may be overlooking a substantial source of untapped talent: the many adults in the United States who have some college but no degree. Read.

A Look at College Costs across Generations

College costs have risen dramatically over the past several decades. This report compares college costs from 1964-1965 up through the present day, and examines how higher costs—and increased borrowing—may affect young workers’ future retirement security.

Job Reskilling and Upskilling Among the 50+

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of offering reskilling and upskilling opportunities for workers.

The Role of Employer Repayment Programs in Tackling Student Loan Debt

In 2019, total student loan debt in the United States equaled $1.5 trillion, a more than five-fold increase from 2003 levels. The average college senior who took on student loans now graduates with over $29,000 in debt.

The Student Loan Debt Threat: An Intergenerational Problem

Student loan debt is an intergenerational problem, burdening borrowers of all ages and threatening the long-term financial security of millions of families. This paper examines the landscape of student loan debt with a focus on older borrowers, including increasing loan balances, defaults, taking on debt to help family members, and the implication for long-term financial security.

Supporting Digital Skills Development and Access for Older Workers

Older workers have much to gain from online learning and working. A new study examines the barriers and opportunities that exist for older workers accessing online programs, with a focus on their digital skill levels.

AARP Lifelong Learning & Education Resources

Take Control of your Student Loan Debt

As AARP’s charitable affiliate, AARP Foundation helps older adults build economic opportunity — including the people over 50 who hold more than 20% of student loan debt in the United States. The AARP Foundation has partnered with Savi to offer a student loan repayment tool that quickly determines whether you’re eligible for federal programs through the U.S. Department of Education — programs that can lower or eliminate your monthly payments based on your income. The average savings is $156 a month!

Older Workers Are Learning New Skills Online, AARP Survey Finds

Whether it was to improve job opportunities or personal skills, many people age 50 and older took online courses and other training programs over the past two years, according to a survey from AARP Research.

AARP Skills Builder for Work

The AARP Skills Builder for WorkSM helps you gain in-demand skills that could give you an edge in today’s competitive job market. Choose a FREE course to get started and get special discounts on all other courses offered by MindEdge Learning. Plus AARP members get even bigger discounts.

Free or Cheap College Courses for Older Adults in All 50 States

There are plenty of reasons to go back to school, even if it's been years or even decades since you last set foot in a classroom. You can pick up new job skills, learn a new language or simply dive into a subject — art, music, psychology, basket weaving — that has always fascinated you. Perhaps the best reason of all? It's free (or less costly) for older residents of every state and Washington, D.C., to take college courses.

AARP Foundation SCSEP (Senior Community Service Employment Program)

SCEP offers unemployed adults 55 and older work-based training and skill-building opportunities within a variety of community service organizations and agencies. Currently, there are opportunities for remote training in the program, although community service assignments have been temporarily suspended. You can call our Work Resources Hotline at 1-855-850-2525 to add your name to a signup list for when training assignments resume.

You Just Might Be Old Enough Now to Go Back to College for Free

Colleges in all 50 states offer the 50-plus set low-cost programs that allow them to take classes either not for credit or for credits toward a degree. Because tuition waiver programs are often not well publicized, many retirees simply don't know that a free or reduced-cost education is an option.