Back to School: Colleges and Retirees Bond


After a lifetime of hard work, your parents have entered their golden years and moved to a fantastic retirement community. Their days and nights are theirs to do as they please, but beyond hanging out with their kids and grandkids, what’s an active senior to do with all that extra time?

Many, it turns out, are heading back to school.

Partnering with colleges and universities is becoming a growing trend in retirement community development. Retirement communities are a bit like living on a college campus already, and, with the college partnerships, they provide opportunities to pursue intellectual fulfillment. There are a number of perks the seniors enjoy when they are at school, including special deals on campus activities and events, use of the library and fitness center, access to student dining halls and the chance to participate in some classes.

These college-linked communities are attractive to a growing number of retirees not looking to be “put out to pasture.” A new population of retiring baby boomers includes many who seek new experiences and intellectual challenges. College communities provide just such challenges. Living in a college town also offers opportunities to give back to the community through volunteer efforts. Some retirees embrace the chance to mentor students or teach classes in their given expertise.

Currently there are college-linked communities at about 70 campuses nationwide, but there are many more on the way. The popularity of these types of retirement communities among the growing population of baby boomer retirees has spurred more development. Those interested in these communities, however, should do their research first. Not all college-linked communities are built from the same model. Some communities offer far more access to college resources than others.

The cost for these communities varies by region. For example, a community linked to Stanford University in pricey Palo Alto, Calif., can cost three times as much as one linked to Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. Communities also offer differing housing options. Some offer apartments and condominiums while others also offer townhomes. Some college-linked communities are continuing care facilities, which allow residents to get progressively higher levels of care as they age. Most communities charge an upfront entry fee that is 90% refundable when the resident moves or dies. Monthly fees cover all other expenses.

When shopping for a college-linked community, look for one that includes campus activities in the monthly fee. This will save you on paying every time you use the fitness center or take advantage of other campus resources. It’s also helpful if there is a designated coordinator on staff to help you find and arrange activities both on-campus and off.




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