College isn't just a place to get an education. It also can be a place to get a great deal.
South Florida's colleges and universities offer many freebies and deeply discounted services, including classes, cultural events and gourmet meals.
Here are some of the ways you can spend some free time on campus.
If you're at least 60 years old and have lived in Florida for a year or more, you can attend one of South Florida's public universities for free. Both Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University allow seniors to audit classes, which means you don't get grades or credit.
FAU offers about 35 classes on its main campus (777 Glades Road, Boca Raton; 561-297-3050), including general psychology, the Holocaust, the history of Cuba and music appreciation. Four classes are available on the Davie campus (3200 College Ave., Davie; 954-236-1016), including America in the 1960s and Rock & Roll in American Society. Those who audit must wait a week after classes begin to give paying students priority.
Fall registration takes place on just one day, Aug. 25, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Registrar's Office on the Boca Raton and Davie campuses. New students must pay a one-time $30 registration fee and all students must purchase a decal to park on campus. A schedule of classes is available at SunSentinel.com/freeclasses.
FIU allows seniors to audit on its main campus west of Miami (11200 SW Eighth St., Miami; 305-348-2320) and its main campus (3000 NE 151st St., North Miami; 305-919-5750).
Whatever your age, you can take Massive Open Only Courses on your computer for free. FIU has such classes as Legal and Ethical Governance and Applied Real Estate (open.fiu.edu. Broward College has a free class called College Foundations: Reading, Writing and Math (canvas.net.
South Florida's universities prove that culture doesn't have to cost a lot.
Admission is free to the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University, affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute. Its collection includes examples of American printmaking from the 1960s and 1970s, photography, pre-Colombian objects dating from 200 to 500 AD, works by Caribbean and Latin American artists and many sculptures (10975 SW 17th St., Miami; 305-348-2890).
FIU's Wolfsonian Museum, which has about 120,000 objects in a variety of media from the height of the Industrial Revolution to the end of World War II, has free admission on Fridays from 6 to 9 p.m. (1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-531-1001).
FAU's art exhibitions are usually free, including "International Posters for a Digital Age 2001-2012," which opens Sept. 4. A free public program featuring a speaker and panel discussion will be Oct. 2 (fauevents.com or 800-564-9539).
Broward College has two galleries of artwork open to the public for free. The Rosemary Duffy Larson Gallery includes work of such artists as Carl Andre, Judy Chicago and Pablo Picasso. It's in Building 6, Room 101 on the central campus (3501 SW Davie Road; 954-201-6984). A smaller collection is available at the gallery on the South campus (Building 69, Room 1370, 7200 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines; 954-201-8969).
Options for performing arts abound as well. Tickets to Nova Southeastern University's Performance Series for 2014-15 are $10 each and include such shows as "Betty's Summer Vacation," "Piece of My Heart" and "Broadway Bash." NSU also offers faculty recitals that are free (3301 College Ave.; 954-262-8179).
The University of Miami has plenty of free recitals through the year, including bass trombonist Bryan Powell on Aug. 28, pianist Takako Tokuda on Aug. 29 and jazz vocalist Claudia Lopez on Sept. 2. All will be held at the Weeks Center for Recording and Performance (5501 San Amaro Drive, Coral Gables; 305-284-2400).
FIU is selling $10 tickets to its "Alternative Theatre Festival" July 24-26 at the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center's black box theater (10910 SW 17th St., Miami, 305-348-3365). FIU also has plenty of free recitals throughout the year (livethearts.com.
A $10 ticket will also get you into FAU's wind ensemble Oct. 8 or the university's symphony orchestra Oct. 11.
If you served your country, Nova Southeastern University wants to serve your mental health and legal needs.
The Psychology Services Center at the Maltz Psychology building on the university's Davie campus provides free therapy and testing services to military personnel and veterans and their immediate family members through a United Way grant. Individuals can call (954-262-5730) for a free screening and to verify eligibility for the grant-funded services.
The university's Shepard Broad Law Center provides free legal assistance to veterans on issues such as consumer rights, family law, driver's license restoration, debtor/creditor issues and veterans' benefits (954-262-6184 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
South Florida colleges can help you prepare your taxes for free.
NSU's Accounting Club offers free help through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (3301 College Ave., Davie; 954-262-5000).
Six Miami-Dade College locations offer free help through the same program (mdc.edu/vita 305-237-1199). Other locations include Keiser University's Miami campus (2101 NW 117 Ave., Miami) and FAU's Davie campus (3200 College Ave., Davie).
Students or volunteers who have been certified by passing an IRS exam prepare many of these returns. The service is generally available to people who make $52,000 or less.
Need your eyes checked? Broward College's north campus offers a full range of vision care, including a complete eye exam for $15 and contact lens exam and fittings for $30.
The clinic is open Mondays to Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. by appointment only (1000 Coconut Creek Blvd., Coconut Creek, Building 41, Room 164; 954-201-2400).
If you're looking for a gourmet meal at a budget price, Broward County's three technical colleges may be good option.
Culinary students supervised by instructors prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the year.
Last week, Sheridan Technical College (5400 Sheridan St., Hollywood; 754-321-5400) offered lunches such as southwestern beef roulade with demi glaze for $5.75 and grilled salmon with banana sauce for $5.95. The breakfast special, with one egg, one piece of bacon or sausage and a biscuit or toast is $1.95. The restaurant is open 6:45 to 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. weekdays; no dinner is served Friday evenings. Reservations are not needed.
"The food is super delicious," says Kim Curry, marketing coordinator for the technical colleges.
Similar deals are available at McFatter Technical College (6500 Nova Drive, Davie; 754-321-5700) and Atlantic Technical College (4700 Coconut Creek Parkway, Margate; 754-321-5100).
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