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

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

posted in: Fun Stuff

Updated in February of 2024, 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 ($181-$218) or by the year ($362) (Fees as of fall 2022.)  Click here to pay for parking by the semester or year. (A Golden ID student taking just one class that meets twice a week told me that with the 15-minute grace period, he only pays $6 per week to park.)

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, most 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, ask the Registrar’s Office IN PERSON what you need to do. Procedures that apply to us have changed (without our being informed of them) so we’re not sure what to advise and suggest throwing yourself on the mercy of the Registrar’s Office as to how to proceed. There can be several steps you need to take, and in a timely fashion.


Application procedures have changed recently (as of this writing in 1/23) and the big news is there are now deadlines – the same ones as regular students. Early deadlines!

(Remember 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. Here’s what the undergrad admissions department told me in January of 2023: If the applicant has 11 or fewer college credits they’re considered a freshman. Whether degree or non-degree status doesn’t matter. (Yes we have to provide high school diploma, etc.) The application will take 4-6 hours to complete. If an applicant already has 12 or more college credits, they’re considered a transfer. I was told if they already have a B.A. they don’t need to provide college transcripts.The deadlines on this page apply to Golden ID applicants who are taking undergrad courses. Depending on the number of previous college credits, the deadline that applies is either the one for “freshman:” or for “U.S./foreign transfer.” For fall semesters the “regular” deadlines are January and June.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. Graduate students must re-apply every 5 years, according to Toya Garrett-Williams).
  • If you’ve previously been a student at the University of Maryland who left before earning an undergraduate degree, your application MAY be easier. Contact the Office of Student Success about “re-enrolling.”


This is also new! If we skip even just one semester we MUST re-ENROLL (NOT “re-apply” for admission) with the Student Success Office. 301-405-2793. To re-enroll click here, then click “Reenrollment Application.” Click “Reenrollment application” again and on that page, select the second box on the right that says “Undergraduate re-enrollment,” clicking “Go to applications” in that box. Sign in, then “create an application.” It’s pretty painless BUT do this early!
And there’s now a deadline, an early one. For spring it’s Nov 1. For fall it’s April 1, but I’m told by the Student Success Office that it can be done starting mid-February and I was told we SHOULD do it as soon as possible. “Don’t wait!” He also told me they CAN make exceptions to the deadline – which they did for me (I pleaded that I’d already paid for parking!)
But a year later I checked with the person in charge of Golden ID undergrads (Toya Garrett-Williams), and she wrote:  “If you miss more than one semester you will need to re-enroll through the Office of Student Success; you would not have to re-apply.”
So it’s still unclear to us, so best to check, and check early.

Here’s a handy form if you are skipping a semester and are in a grad program, called the Petition for Waiver of Continuous Registration.


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 (which is needed if you don’t have prerequisites for the course or it’s full.) The prof then needs to contact the admin person in their department to get you enrolled in the course.


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.


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 recently been moved to the ground floor of the Edward St. John Building. Sign in, then wait for them to call your name in order. They’ll fix your phone, laptop, trouble getting onto UMD wifi, etc.


A Golden ID regular submitted these tips for discounts we’re entitled to in August of 2023:.

  • Recently, newspapers have been offering good deals to everyone, see the current offers listed below. However, the student rates are still better, either lower cost or valid for a longer time (as long as you’re a student). You’ll need to use your terpmail address to sign up. For some of these, I’m sorry I don’t remember which, you’ll also need to upload a copy of your UMd ID. I get the print addition of the WSJ and economist because my wife likes them. I read a digital version of the WSJ on an iPad that looks like the print version, there is a WSJ app for that. It makes the experience more old school. The WashPost has the same thing in its app.
  • Washington Post offers all access digital for e-version for a student discount. Print can be purchased, but isn’t available with academic discount. Normal rate: $12 every four weeks.Currently discounted rate: $4 every four weeks for first year.Academic rate: $1 every four weeks
  • Wall Street Journal. Here you can get discount on print addition as well. There are other options, bundles with other business magazines, but here I’m only addressing the basic newspaper. I also use the full subscription, weekend and weekday, for the print comparison. Digital only. Normal rate: $9.75 a week Current offer rate: $1 a week for first year. Student rate: $1 a week (but for the time you’re a student). Print and digital (week and weekend delivery of print). Normal rate: $13.75 a week.Current offer rate: $8.25 a week for the first year. Student rate: $2.50 a week
  • New York Times- does not have a student or academic rate
  • Economist. Print and digital.Current rate on website: $275 a year. Student rate: $220 for first year. My rate last year was about $213. My renewal this coming December will be $250 or so. I suspect after that it will go up the renewal after that, in late 2024. I didn’t use the student discount out of concern that I’d be resetting my rates and actually, ultimately, pay more.
  • AT&T Mobile. Discount is $10 per line. However, you can only get this on a premium plan and it can’t stack on top of other discounts. I already get a $10 discount for something else, so this isn’t useful for me.

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 blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog weekly at GardenRant.com.

4 Responses

  1. Maureen
    | Reply

    Actually, Golden ID students CAN take Winter session courses; I did a couple of years ago. For Winter & Summer sessions Golden ID students can enroll on the 1st day of classes, rather than have to wait for the 3rd day of classes (which is the case for Fall & Spring semesters).

  2. Grace
    | Reply

    Thank you for this info…really helpful!

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

  4. […] 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 […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *