THE AMERICAN Association of Retired Persons offers free guides to college programs, tuition policies, and information on how to establish senior education programs, 662-4895.

The following are among the colleges and universities in the D.C. area offering special programs and/or tuition discounts for seniors. Call for information on age limits and specific requirements.

American University -- Institute for Learning in Retirement, 885-3920.

George Mason University -- Virginia residents can audit classes free if space available; free credit courses if income is under $7,500. 323-2436.

Georgetown University -- $50 a class under the Senior Citizens Auditor Program. Some non-credit classes at 50 percent discount. 625-3323.

Howard University -- Sponsors spring and fall programs with complimentary tickets for seniors, 686-5400.

Marymount University -- 50 percent tuition discount, must apply for admission. Call 522-5600.

Montgomery College -- Off-campus program for seniors; Tuition free to Maryland residents. 972-2000, ext. 221.

Mt. Vernon College -- 50 percent discount for credit and non-credit courses, 331-3540.

Northern Virginia Community College -- "Maturals" program at Alexandria campus, 845-6301. At all campuses Virginia residents can audit classes if space available. Call dean's office at each campus for information.

Prince George's Community College -- Senior Citizens Program off-campus; regular courses free for Maryland residents. 322-0158.

University of the District of Columbia -- Free courses up to 50 credits for D.C. residents, then 50 percent tuition discount, 727-2778.

University of Maryland -- Free tuition for Maryland residents under Golden I.D. Program. Call 454-5550. Retired Volunteer Service Corps places seniors in career counseling, tutoring, office work, and adjunct teaching on campus, 454-4767.

Keep Fit Courses

COLLEGE HEALTH and fitness programs specifically geared to older people draw hundreds of area seniors.

Prince George's Community College -- Involves 400 seniors on campus, 500 at off-campus recreation centers, and 1,000 for swimming exercises at four sites. The basic program includes exercises, and lectures on everything from fitness to arthritis to the biology of aging. Call 322-0158.

University of Maryland -- Adult Health Developmental Program pairs seniors with trained volunteers. Participants in the Saturday program range from very fit to severely disabled. The program includes individually prescribed exercise, special sports and social events, and workshops on health topics. Call 454-3295.

Montgomery College -- Senior adult program includes special physical education courses for people with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease at several off-campus sites. Call 972-2000, ext. 221.

George Mason University -- HEP Program features exercise monitored by a nurse, lectures and movies on health. The University also runs a "Rejuvenate Your Joints" fitness program and NOVCAT, a cardiac rehabilitation program. Call 323-2827.