COLUMBIA - More than 250 people are taking advantage of a little-known South Carolina law that allows anyone age 60 or older to take college classes without paying tuition.
The University of South Carolina has 241 people taking advantage of the program, while Clemson University has 16 people using the provision passed in the 1970s, officials at the schools said.
Word of the program has mostly spread by mouth, even though it is printed in the school's catalog, said Harriett Hurt, the director of adult student services at USC.
"People who come tell their friends, and the friends come," Ms. Hurt said. "Most people come in here knowing about it."
The program attracts people for a variety of reasons. Ms. Hurt said some retired people come back to find out more about subjects they never studied. Some take classes on Middle Eastern culture to learn more about Iraq.
"Many people move near institutions of higher learning to take advantage of it," she said. "We have a number who are working on degrees, but most come to classes just for the knowledge."
Returning to class also brings other advantages, such as access to university research libraries or the chance to attend theater, lectures and seminars.
USC's main campus in Columbia has the most people taking advantage of the program with 79 students. The Lancaster campus has 75 tuition-free students, while USC Aiken has 50 students.
APPLYING TO USC
Anyone wanting to join the program at USC has to go through the admissions office and fill out an application for nondegree students. It can be done online or the admission office can send a paper application through the mail. To view the application, log on to www.sc.edu/admissions/appnondegree.php.