Skip to main content

Special Tuition Waivers

Senior Citizen Audit Tuition Waiver

In Fall 2017, the General Assembly authorized the Board of Governors to enact legislation permitting those who have attained 65 years of age or older and who meet applicable admission standards to audit courses offered without payment of any required registration fee or tuition on a space available basis.

Eligibility Requirements:

  1. A senior auditor must be:
    1. At least 65 years old as of the start of the applicable term; and
    2. A North Carolina resident, as determined by the institution
  2. Senior auditors must be in good standing with the institution of higher education and must not have any financial holds on any institutional accounts.
  3. The constituent institutions may require senior auditors to provide documentation necessary to prove eligibility, for example, proof of age and residence through a driver’s license, state identification card, or other government-issued document. While senior auditors must have domicile in North Carolina, they do not need to be “residents for tuition purposes” as defined in G.S. 116-143.1(b), and do not need to seek a determination through the Residency Determination Service (RDS).
  4. A constituent institution may prohibit a senior auditor from auditing courses if it determines that the auditor poses a threat to the health and safety of the campus community. In making such a determination, constituent institutions may make reasonable and appropriate inquiries into the senior auditor’s criminal and school disciplinary background. Such inquiries may include a criminal background check, with the senior auditor’s consent.

If a senior auditor registers for more than four credit hours, he/she will need to comply with the immunization requirements under North Carolina state law. Please contact Health Services at 828-227-7640 or for more information.

Senior auditors may only audit courses if there is space available in a course and only after all new and currently enrolled students have had an opportunity to register for the applicable term. 

Auditing additional classes in subsequent terms does not require a new application.  However, if a senior auditor misses two or more consecutive semesters, he/she must reapply for admission.

For more information about the application and registration process, please contact the Registrar’s Office at 828.227.7216 or .


Tuition Waiver for Family Members of Deceased or Disabled Emergency Workers

Certain family members of emergency workers killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty may become eligible for tuition-free enrollment.

Eligibility Requirements:

  1. The deceased or disabled emergency worker (firefighter, volunteer firefighter, law enforcement officer, or rescue squad member) must have been a North Carolina legal resident (domiciliary), in active service or training for active service at the time of death or disability occurring in the line of duty.
  2. The emergency worker's death or disability must have occurred on or after October 1, 1997.
  3. The emergency worker must have been employed by the State of North Carolina or any of its departments, agencies, or institutions, OR a county, city, town or other political subdivision of the State of North Carolina.
  4. The applicant must be either a child or unremarried widow or widower of a deceased emergency worker killed in the line of duty, OR a spouse or a child (at least age 17, but not yet 23) of an emergency worker who became permanently and totally disabled as a result of a traumatic injury sustained in the line of duty as an emergency worker.
  5. The applicant must qualify academically for admission to Western Carolina University and there must be space available in the course(s) for which he or she intends to register.
  6. Documentation must be submitted to the Bursar no later than the first day of class of the term for which the waiver is sought.  

The following documents are required as proof of eligibility for this tuition waiver:

  1. To prove permanent and total disability of an emergency worker: Documentation of the permanent and total disability from the N.C. Industrial Commission
  2. To prove cause of death of an emergency worker: Certification of the cause of death from The Department of State Treasurer; or the appropriate city or county law enforcement agency that employed the deceased;
    The administrative agency for the fire department or fire protection district funded under the Department of State Auditor;
    The administrative agency having jurisdiction over any paid firefighters of all counties and cities.
  3. To prove the parent/child relationship: applicant's birth certificate or legal adoption papers
  4. To prove the marital relationship: applicant's marriage certificate

For more information about the Emergency Worker Tuition Waiver, please contact the Student Accounts Office at 828.227.7324 or .  Documents may be scanned and emailed to

Office of Web Services