If you do not have interest in or need to earn college credit, but want to attend a university class on campus, guest auditing may be for you. The opportunity is only for lecture courses with the instructor's approval and if space is available. Established by Wisconsin law and Board of Regents policy, the tuition is reduced or waived depending on the type of guest auditor. There are two types:
- Senior Guest Auditors are Wisconsin residents age 60 and older. Tuition is waived. (UGSR is the designation on the admissions application and course roster.)
- A Guest Auditor is any student who is not currently enrolled in a degree program or does not plan to pursue a degree. Tuition for Guest auditors is set at approximately 30% of the University Special/Undergraduate student tuition rate (and approximately 50% for non-Wisconsin residents). (UGST is the designation on the admissions application and course roster.)
- Disabled persons receiving SSI and SSDI may qualify for a tuition waiver under UW Board of Regents policy. At the time of admission, a Social Security Benefit letter and a Social Security release of information form must be provided to ACSSS. See more detail at How to Get In.
Guest auditors have access to campus libraries and computer labs, but do not pay segregated fees so do not have access to the free Metro bus pass, University Health Services, or recreational facilities. It is possible to pay a Recreational Membership Fee to use campus recreational facilities.
Auditing is defined as sitting in on a lecture course and not actively participating. Auditors may not recite, perform, or take examinations, although regular attendance is expected. Courses that by their nature require active participation or performance are not available on a Guest Auditor basis, but may be taken as a University Special in a credit-earning classification.
Classes typically not available to audit are:
- physical education activity classes
- conversational languages
- studio and performing arts
- writing, math, computer, and lab courses
- Independent Study, Directed Study, and other courses ending from -90 to -99
- seminar, research, and colloquium courses
- online courses
Grading for auditors
Audited courses are listed on a student's official UW-Madison transcript with "AU" in place of number of credits and either "S" (satisfactory) or "NR" (no report) listed for the "grade." Prior to enrolling, Guest auditors discuss with the instructor the standard for earning an "S" in the particular course.
How to Get in
There are two steps to become a student: (1) university admission and (2) course enrollment.
Senior Guest Auditor
If you are a Wisconsin resident, 60 years or older, and wish to qualify for tuition-free status, apply using the University Special student online application at least three weeks before the start of the term. UGSR is the designation on the admissions application and course roster.
An email confirmation email is sent from the Adult Career and Special Student Services with additional information. The process requires verification of Wisconsin Resident status and age. If ACSSS or the Residency Office needs further information to determine if these requirements are met, an email is sent to the applicant.
Returning auditors who have did not enroll in the most recent fall or spring term, the reentry application process provided in the MyUW/Student Center may be used.
Upon admission, a letter is mailed with additional information and enrollment instructions.
At least three weeks before the start of the term, apply using the University Special student online application. UGST is the designation on the admissions application and course roster.
An email confirmation is sent from Adult Career and Special Student Services with additional information. Upon admission, a letter is mailed with enrollment instructions.
Disabled persons receiving SSI and SSDI: Wisconsin residents receiving SSI or SSDI and intending to enroll as a Guest Auditor may qualify for a tuition waiver under UW Board of Regents policy. To do so, a Social Security Benefit letter must be submitted to ACSSS at the time of applying for admission. In addition, a Social Security release of information form must be provided which authorizes release of information in order to become a cost-free auditor at UW–Madison. The form is available online here or from a local Social Security office with addresses here. After you successfully enroll in your course(s) as an auditor, email firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm all documents have been received and your tuition will be waived. If you do not contact ACSSS immediately after your enrollment, you may receive a tuition bill and possible late fees. If you require accommodations for a disability, see Reasonable Accommodations and Guest Auditor/Senior Guest Auditor Students (pdf).
Prior to enrollment, the student must be officially admitted to the university by ACSSS or in continuing student status as a Guest Auditor.
Guest Auditors and Senior Guest Auditors will use the same online enrollment tool used by all students. There are two major differences in the process:
- Guest auditors/senior guest auditors may not enroll until the first day of class to allow the instructor to assess the availability of space. (For summer, the earliest enrollment day is in late May.)
- Guest auditors/senior guest auditors must obtain instructor permission to enroll in the course. The instructor's permission must be entered in the enrollment system by a departmental staff member. Then the guest auditor will be able to enroll in the course.
ACSSS assists students with following these extra steps. Instructions are included with the letter of admission and provided online, including a video and tips at Enrollment Instructions for Guest Auditors.