When Walter Martin, 82, turned 73 he decided it was time for his son to take over the family’s 100-year-old farm in the Kindersley area of Saskatchewan. Soon he was onto the next challenge: enrollment at the University of Saskatchewan. “I had always wanted to get more education. All I had before was high school,” says Martin. “I finally had the time.”
This spring, after nine years of study, the 82-year-old Martin graduated with an honours Bachelor of Science in land use and environmental studies. Part of his goal in obtaining the degree, he says, was his desire to educate others about the sustainability of modern farming practices. “Most farmers are very environmentally conscious,” he asserts. What he enjoyed most, though, to his surprise, were the friendships he struck up with students and professors. “It has been wonderful.”
MAKING IT HAPPEN: Seniors concerned about the cost of a post-secondary education should be aware that university fees generate credits that you can claim on your tax return, regardless of age, says financial planner Jason Heath. “The government helps supplement the cost to a certain extent.” The Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) allows you to borrow from your RRSP tax-free to pay for post-secondary costs (you have 10 years to repay it). Some universities even waive tuition fees for senior citizens.