You may be paying big bucks for your tuition, but the gray-haired student sitting next to you is getting a free seat in class with the help of Georgia’s Amendment 23.
Approved in 1976, the Georgia Free University Courses for Seniors Amendment has granted many senior citizens the opportunity to attend college classes free of cost.
GC’s student accounts coordinator Sarah Batchelor clarified the guidelines of the law.
“Students who are over the age of 62 can register for any course and are not charged tuition and most of the fees are waived,” Batchelor said. “They are only required to pay the technology fee and specific course fees.”
As a public university, GC is an active participant in this amendment and a host to many senior citizen students such as 82-year-old Elaine Jaworski.
With a masters degree in education from the University of Pittsburgh, Jaworski was the first person in her family to attend college. She has spent 32 years as an early-grades educator.
Heading back to the classroom was second-nature for Jaworksi.
“I just love learning and decided that I needed the challenge and the stimulation,” Jaworski said. “We are really lifetime learners.”
As a student in Alex Blazer’s American Literature class, Jaworski said she is pleasantly surprised by the change in academic rigor compared to her previous college education.
“I think the depth that [Blazer] is going into in his analysis of what we’re reading was much more superficial 50 years ago,” Jaworski said. “We read and discussed the works, but the comparisons and the pulling of all the ideas out is, to me, very interesting.”
Her interest in literature is extensive, she said, and she sees taking this class as a way of broadening her knowledge of different works.
“I thought it was time to do something a little more, a little deeper than [mystery novels],” Jaworski said.
Knowing about Amendment 23’s financial benefits, Jaworski said she had thought about taking advantage of the opportunity for many years.
“My friends all look at me like, ‘You’re doing what? Why would you do this to yourself?’” Jaworski said. “I don’t know. I just thought it was a great idea, and I’ll do it again.”
Her contagious spirit for learning and academic achievement influences her children and grandchildren, who all have college degrees from notable universities like Vanderbilt, the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech.
Through auditing the class, Jaworski has gained an academic experience and appreciation for the modern college student.
“I’m just amazed by all of [the students],” Jaworski said. “It is so much fun for me. I’m really impressed with the challenge that [Blazer] has put out there for [his students].”
Blazer shares much appreciation for Jaworski’s engagement with his class and sees senior citizen students as just like other students.
“[Jaworski] tends to come up about once a week and say, ‘I really liked this one thing you talked about,’” Blazer said.
Jaworski’s late-life college experience has exceeded her expectations, and she is already making plans to come back next semester with hopes to inspire a friend to do the same.
“If I took a world history class, I know I would get people to come with me,” Jaworski said.
An inspiration to college students of all ages, Jaworski has raised the bar for what it means to be a lifelong learner.