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The New School Option: Senior Housing On or Near College Campuses

Many seniors and elderly are choosing to live on or near a college campus. This development is win-win for the seniors and the university and its community.

Benefits to seniors

Staying actively engaged is the secret to successful aging. College communities afford seniors and the elderly a variety of rich cultural and intellectual activities.

Among the benefits they gain include:

  • attending campus cultural and sports events
  • fulfillment through volunteer or part-time work on campus
  • cross-generational interaction
  • access to the institutions’ fitness facilities and health services
  • group travel opportunities
  • personal care assistance provided by home health care aides through the regular student body

Seniors also receive discounts on the cost of tuition. At Duke University's Institute for Learning in Retirement program, after paying a $25 membership fee, seniors pay reduced fees for one to five courses. This provides a significant savings when compared to the regular tuition cost. 

"The allure is both the intellectual and cultural stimulation a college campus can provide. College students and retirees look for the same thing – a good time." – Mark W. Fagan of Jacksonville State University

Benefits to the college or university

Notre Dame has already received $1 million from just one resident of its retirement community. At a retirement village being built at Georgia Tech, the developer is planning on selling 204 home lots at $240,000 each, a significant increase in value for the university. Other benefits can include:

  • Revenue from sale of land, or from long-term ground lease.
  • Equity in the project and annual payments for services.
  • Bequests and donations from residents.
  • Increased campus diversity.
  • Volunteer guest lecturers and tutors.
  • Employment and internship opportunities for students.
  • Opportunities for research on the lifestyle and health aspects of aging, housing management and dining/dietary sciences.
  • Career advice and networking opportunities stemming from seniors’ professional contacts.
  • Positive effect on student behavior stemming from presence of seniors.
  • Increased audience for campus cultural events.

Benefits to society

It’s speculated that by encouraging this kind of arrangement, society can benefit by having a group of healthy, educated and productive seniors contributing to the enrichment of that same society. Furthermore, it can go a long way in reducing the antipathy that sometimes occurs between the young and old. Both generations will benefit by learning more about each other's experiences.

When you are discussion housing options with your parents, encourage them to explore taking advantage of the lifelong learning opportunities and join a senior community near – or even on – a college or university campus.  It could be an enriching experience for everyone.