RICHARDSON – There are a large number of educational institutions in and around the City of Richardson helping senior citizens achieve higher education from the comfort of their own home to a college campus.

When it comes to retirement, long-time Richardson resident Janet Fein is nowhere near slowing down.  At the age of 84, she is celebrating another milestone: her graduation from the University of Texas at Dallas.

“I’m doing what makes me happy and keeps me occupied and using my mind,” said Fein.

Fein earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, years after retiring from a job she held for two decades while raising a family.  She was able to do so through a state-wide program allowing senior citizens to attend college for free.

“Lots of seniors sit around day to day, not having a purpose and I think they should take advantage of this program because I know there are seniors out there who would like to do it and you can do it,” she said.

Fein is one of the many seniors who benefit from the large number of educational institutions located in and around the city. 

At Richland College, where Fein received her Associate’s degree back in 1995, seniors are lining up for the free tuition.  Administrators say several retirees have already taken advantage of the program.

“If you’re over the age of 65, you can come take up to nine hours a semester for free. You can take pe classes, you can take music classes, photography classes and it’s about lifelong learning,” said Donna Walker, assistant vice-president of enrollment at Richland College.

School administrators say the classes in the senior adult program are both stimulating and challenging.  Credit and noncredit classes that are available in the day, at night or on the weekends provides students a chance to stay socially connected.

“They don’t feel like there are left out or left behind. They are still engaging, and they are still contributing,” said Walker.

Seniors planning to start a new chapter in their lives are now finding inspiration through a graduate who didn’t give up hope.

“She told me, where there is a will there is a way and she said this is something I always wanted to do after my kids grew up and left,” said Oly Goujat, The Wellington at Araphao.