BISMARCKâ€”The North Dakota Senate has killed a proposal to allow older North Dakota residents to earn college credit for free.
House Bill 1385 would have allowed North Dakota residents 65 and older to attend any undergraduate class at the stateâ€™s public colleges without paying tuition and fees.
The ability to join a class was limited to whether open seats remained after regularly admitted students signed up. The bill did not apply to online classes.
The students under the billâ€™s terms would not have been required to demonstrate the academic achievements normally required of students.
Supporters have said the bill is a way to give back to the stateâ€™s older residents and for colleges to build relationships with senior citizens. The House approved the bill on a 65-29 vote.
However, senators expressed several concerns about the bill, including the fairness of giving a â€œfree passâ€ to older students and not traditional college students.
Senators also pointed to initiatives already in place for the stateâ€™s older residents. North Dakota University System policy now allows colleges to waive the audit fee for on-campus courses for those 65 and older. Audited classes do not count as credit.
Opponents have also questioned the provision about these students not needing to demonstrate academic achievements and the burden this could put on the course instructor.
The bill died on a 9-37 vote.