Home » Fun Stuff » UMD’s Golden ID Program for Retirees: Tuition-Waived!

UMD’s Golden ID Program for Retirees: Tuition-Waived!

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Updated in 2021 using the best available information, largely first-hand from program participants. (Correct information about this program is difficult to get from the University – especially information about applying). PLEASE email this site if you know of changes made after that date. (editor@greenbeltonline.org.)


Stamp Student Union at UMD

Intro from 2018: This fall I went back to college at the University of Maryland, taking an awesome art history course with a teacher who’s so good, I’ll happily take any course she ever teaches. Two days a week I’ve been on campus, learning, and meeting other people my age PLUS people young enough to be my grandchildren. Next semester I plan to take courses in Film Studies and one on the History of Architecture. Or maybe a creative nonfiction-writing class.

It’s all thanks to the terrific but little-known Golden ID Program that waives tuition for:

  • Retirees (people working 20 hours/week or fewer)
  • Who are at least 60 years old
  • And residents of Maryland

Participants can either audit classes or take them for credit and even a degree (including PhD.)


Tuition is waived, but some student fees apply and they total $260/semester (as of fall of 2018) – that’s for up to 3 courses. If you drive, you’ll also have to pay for parking, at $3/hour, by the semester ($157-$189) or by the year ($314). (Click here to pay for parking by the semester or year.)

FYI: The regular tuition that’s waived for us is $1,533 for each 3-credit course.

If you go by bicycle, it’s about a 30-minute ride to campus from Old Greenbelt.


You may be surprised by the cost of course textbooks these days – easily over $100 each. But in our experience, prior editions of the very same textbook are often available used from Amazon for under $10 – for a book that’s only slightly different from the expensive, recent one listed on the syllabus.

Also, many instructors use ELMS to post material where legally possible to post readings to save students money.


Participants can take any course in the entire undergrad catalog provided that:

  • You have prerequisites for it (officially.  In practice, especially if you’re auditing, professors give permission to people without prerequisites.)
  • It’s not full. (Again, professors often grant permission to Golden ID student anyway, especially if we’re just auditing.)

Golden ID students may take classes for audit or for credit – even for a degree, including a Ph.D.!

To seek permission to take a class that’s full or for which you don’t have the prerequisites, show up in person for the class and ask the teacher for permission.


You can apply any time to get admitted as a UMD student through the Golden ID program, but it’s best to get stated at least a month before the start of the semester you want to enroll for. You can’t sign up for any particular classes, however, until the first week of classes, which begin the last weeks of August and January for fall and spring semesters respectively.

Use one of these methods to apply:

  • To take undergrad courses, use the online undergrad application. It wasn’t designed for us, so a little fudging may be necessary. James Massey in Undergrad Admissions tells me there’s a place in the application to indicate that you’re apply through the Golden ID program, and that the application will then proceed smoothly. However, I and others have not found that place in the process and the application required us to list all the classes we took in grades 9-12, information we obviously don’t have. One participant was told to just list one course for each year, and estimate her grade, and that worked. (She had to list something in order for the software to allow her to submit the application.) If you have any problems filling out the form, do contact James B. Massey Jr. in Undergraduate Admissions. (He completed the application for me.) His phone: 301.314.8385 and email: jbmassey@umd.edu.There’s more help available to undergrads by asking for an advisor, someone can also help you if you have trouble registering for classes. I’m told you can just show up at the Hornbake Library and ask for an advisor on the spot, or use this link to schedule an appointment. The application fee is $75.
  • If you want to take graduate-level courses you need to apply to the grad school. (One participant reports that he was able to apply as an Advanced Special Graduate student with NO major, and did not need a letter from a department.)  Click here for information about applying as a non-degree applicant to the grad school and you can start the application at the bottom of that link. This application seems more appropriate for us because there’s definitely a place in the application to check off “Golden ID” and also whether you’re auditing or not. You’ll need to provide your college transcript and even if you’re auditing, you’ll need an undergrad GPA of at least 3.0. (You may still be ultimately admitted but they’ll ask for more information, like a letter from the head of the department you’ll be studying in.) Need help? Contact Heather Kissinger, Grad School Admissions Evaluator Phone: (301) 314-1179 Email: kissh@umd.edu. Again the application fee is $75.
  • If you’ve previously been a student at the University of Maryland who left before earning an undergraduate degree, your application should be easier. Contact the Office of Student Success about “re-enrolling.”

As of August of 2020, we’re told that the new Coordinator for Golden ID students is Toya Garrett-Williams and she can be reached at 301/314-8250 or registrar-help@umd.edu.


Most Golden IDers take in-person courses, together with the regular undergrad or grad-level students. However, many other courses are available online only, which is a choice more seniors may soon be making until the pandemic has passed. Another option is to combine the two – say, attending one class in person (they meet twice a week), and also one or two online courses that require no driving and parking. Those second or third courses we cost us nothing more, so why not?

Note about Re-Application Required: Every 5 years, UMD IDs expire and it’s necessary to formally re-apply to UMD at no cost. (One participant was billed anyway, forcing him to appeal. Was asked for new documents, and new photo on ID.)


At 7 a.m. on the third day of classes for each new semester you can go to the schedule of classes to choose the ones you want to take. If they’re “open” click to apply. If they’re closed or wait-listed, try asking the professor in person if you may take the class. (If that works, ask for an email to that effect, so you can forward it to the Registrar’s Office and be officially enrolled in the class.) When signing up for a class you can choose between auditing or taking it for credit.

Some Golden IDers visit several classes they’re interested in that first week of classes to check out the professor and narrow their choice of class. That’s also a good time to ask the prof for permission.


After you’ve signed up for at least one course you can go in person to the Office of the Registrar in the Mitchell Building to get your ID card. This will allow you to use the library, the fitness center and probably many more things we don’t even know about yet. They’re available only to persons who have registered for one or more courses for that semester (or summer session). Golden ID students are not eligible for Consortium courses or Continuing Education.


Now that you have your student ID, you can create your student account with the university’s computer network, which allows you to see the syllabus, get Wifi on campus, etc. Go to www.Identity.umd.edu and click “Activate account” to do this. If’ll ask for your user name, which is a combination of numbers with letters in your name, something like this: sharri00.


Go to https://dots.umd.edu/parking.html. The fee will be added automatically to your account, so you can pay for everything at once.


Go to the Financial Office in the Lee Building near Route 1 to pay in person, or pay by mail for all your student fees, including parking if applicable.


You don’t have to apply to the Golden ID program again; just sign up for the courses you want and for parking. You can even skip a regular spring or fall semester and still be an admitted Golden ID participant. However, if you skip two semesters in a row you’ll have to apply to re-enroll, but you won’t be charged another $75 application fee.


Golden ID participants are not eligible to take courses during the winter term, but we are allowed in the summer sessions (there are two each summer). However, you’ll be charged the student fees ($260 roughly) for each of the two summer sessions you participate in. Fortunately, parking fees paid for the spring semester carry over until the beginning of the fall semester.


Here are the benefits Golden ID students are entitled to – that we know of so far:

  • Use of the libraries.
  • Use of the Recreation and Wellness Center, which has great facilities and over 100 free courses each week!
  • Free or $10 admission to events at the Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts (for 1-2 tickets).To get tickets for performances at Clarice Smith, order them online or just show your student ID. (Get performance tickets free on Free Student Mondays, and $10 the rest of the week. However, if you’re taking any classes in the School of Music or Theater, Dance & Performance Studies, those tickets are free 7 days a week!)

.Terrapin Tech Center in McKeldin Library

  • Free IT help at the Terrapin Tech Center (shown above). It’s on the first floor of the McKeldin Library, toward the back on the left. I showed up, got help in within 5 minutes, and all my laptop and iPhone problems were solved!

MEET INTERESTING RETIREES: Lunches and Facebook Group

Golden ID retirees having lunch in Stamp Student Union
A Golden ID Luncheon

Golden ID participants are an interesting bunch – many of them taking difficult courses like Modern Greek, for credit, even! (I’m a total slacker by comparison.) Join us to hear recommendations for great course and professors, plus the occasional upcoming performance at Clarice Smith.

After you’ve enrolled you’ll receive an email telling you how to get on the email list sent out by Golden ID President Doug Jones, in which he announces our twice-monthly lunches in the Stamp Student Union dining hall. Doug also posts lunch details on the Golden ID Blog.

And do join our new Golden ID Facebook Group, where you’ll find comments about classes and events on campus.

Dining in the Stamp Student Union.

More Info

Here’s an interesting story about the “little-known” Golden ID program in Hyattsville’s Community Newspaper. It includes some comments by participants.

Here’s more information about the Golden ID program on the UMD website, some of which differs from the information above (and may be fixed).

Statewide information is at “Senior Citizen Guide to College, by State.Art-history students of Anita G-Shine at the National Gallery East Wing.

Above is a scene from the field trip that my art history class took to the National Gallery. In the center with glasses is an amazing teacher – Aneeta G-Shine. Near her in a grey sweater is a Golden ID participant.

Follow Susan Harris:
“Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV.

3 Responses

  1. Grace
    | Reply

    Thank you for this info…really helpful!

  2. […] I may have mentioned that I’ve gone back to college, taking classes at the University of Maryland campus near me, tuition-free. […]

  3. […] semester I took an undergrad art-history course at the University of Maryland (tuition-free through this terrific program for retirees) and the professor turned me on to great scans of art at Google Arts and Culture. More great works […]

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