Oregon senior citizens would be allowed to take university and community college courses for free under legislation approved by the Oregon House today.
House Bill 2011 passed Wednesday on a 58-0 vote.
State Rep. Suzanne VanOrman (D-Hood River) said Oregonians over 65 would be allowed to take courses without paying tuition provided space is available, the instructor agrees and the senior student pays any additional fees (beyond tuition) the course requires.
“All over Oregon, our aging population has a great interest in continuing their education, and sharing their values and life experiences with younger students who are there for a degree,” said VanOrman. “This vital and growing part of our community should be accorded free tuition provided that they are not taking space from a paying student. This bill provides a benefit to Oregon seniors, but it also provides a benefit to the university and community college students who get to interact with them.”
The bill requires the approval of the department in which the course is being taught and limits the number of courses that a single person can audit in the same term.
“The contribution made by Oregon seniors to the health and vitality of our state is enormous. This gives them the benefit of keeping their minds sharp while it provides students in the same class the opportunity to learn from the vast life experience our seniors can share with them,” said Speaker Dave Hunt (D-Clackamas County), the bill’s chief sponsor.
“Our community colleges and universities are stronger when we have a diversity of students. This is one small benefit we can provide for Oregon’s elderly population even in these tough economic times.”
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.