Many boomers are re­imagining the last third of life to include paid work of some kind, usually part-time. Boomers are well-educated and healthier than previous generations, on average.

Savings for the traditional retirement years is important, of course. But so is thinking about what kind of work you would like to do next during your unretirement. How can you continue to earn an income and do something that also offers meaning and purpose?

Finding an encore career often involves getting some additional education. Here’s a personal finance tip on postsecondary education for aging boomers from a chance meeting at the University of Minnesota. I was recently a guest in a graduate business class in the master’s degree program in the management of technology.

Among the students was Hans Anderson. He’s 72, earning his master’s degree for $10 a tuition credit, thanks to Minnesota’s Senior Citizen Education Program (SCEP). That compares to the typical charge of more than $1,800 per credit for the graduate degree. The SCEP program applies to Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU) and the University of Minnesota also participates.

Anderson joined the part-time program in 2013. He’ll graduate in May. Earning his master’s degree will cost him several hundred dollars in tuition vs. tens of thousands of dollars for the typical student.

What comes next? Anderson graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in electrical engineering. He worked for a variety of companies, mostly in sales, including Intel, Fairchild and National Semiconductor. He is currently developing a currency trading program with a friend. A contract worker with a global technology company, Anderson will sit down with management after graduation to see what possibilities the new credential opens up for him.

He offers up a smart way to approach the unretirement years. At whatever age you start thinking about retirement, focus on what comes next. Get any additional good education you need in Minnesota for practically nothing. “Say, maybe you have three years to transition into something you really like to do,” says Anderson. “Keep your job and get the education you need in the evening or on the weekend.”


Chris Farrell is senior economics contributor for American Public Media’s Marketplace and economics commentator for Minnesota Public Radio.