Area colleges and universities offer a variety of programs for seniors. Among them:

*Elderhostel. Geared to senior adults 60 years and over, Elderhostel is a network of more than 850 participating colleges and universities in the United States, Canada and abroad that offers low-cost residential academic programs.

Students live in college dormitories and eat in college cafeterias during a one-week program (costs range from $195 to $205) that offers a wide array of study courses and recreational activities on host campuses throughout the year. Senior adults have a choice of 12 Elderhostel programs on Maryland, Virginia and District campuses that offer a special combination of learning and social activities in varied academic settings.

For a catalogue, write: Elderhostel, 80 Boylston St., Suite 400, Boston, Mass. 02116.

*The University of Maryland's Golden ID program. Offers undergraduate and graduate courses to retired state residents 60 years and over at the College Park campus and many Beltway campus locations. Since the Golden ID program started in 1977, there has been a 75 percent increase in the number of senior students enrolled. Free to state residents. (301) 985-7265.

*Montgomery College offers a free continuing education program at 23 locations. The college also takes educational programs to seniors in nursing homes, day-care centers and high-rise apartment centers. (301) 972-2000, ext. 220.

*Northern Virginia Community College. Credit (703-323-3000) and noncredit (703-323-3168) programs for seniors at all campuses. Free to state residents.

*Prince George's Community College. Continuing education programs free to state residents at the main campus, Largo, and eight extension centers. The college also offers an outreach program for seniors in nursing homes, high-rise apartment centers and senior centers. (301) 322-0879.

*George Washington University's "Alumni Course Audit Program" offers personal enrichment courses in the arts, sciences and humanities to senior alumni in the area at no cost. Also, the program is free to Foggy Bottom senior citizens with ZIP codes 20006 and 20037. (202) 676-6435.

*Georgetown University offers regular undergraduate studies at discounted fees to older adults in the "Senior Citizen Audit Program." (202) 625-3323.