Throughout Northern Virginia, major school systems are offering senior citizens real bargains in education at college level, secondary level, in specialized instruction or in recreational-type courses.

For seniors, the discounts on tuition fees generally range from 25 percent to 100 percent. The definition of who qualifies for such discounts varies in each school system.

Interested seniors should enroll soon. Registration is already underway in some instances, with many classes beginning in early- to mid-September.

There is a wide range of instruction offered. Arlington County's public library expresses it well in the 1978 adult-education bulletin of the Arlington Recreation Division and the Arlington Public Schools. It says in part:

"We can help you to -

"Pass a test, make a vest . . . repair your car, locate a star . . . practice karate, hear some Menotti . . . cook with leeks, read the Greeks . . . speak better Dutch, rebuild your clutch . . . be a lover, quilt a cover . . . know your history, read a mystery."

Following is a special back-to-school guide for seniors. Language in quotation marks is taken directly from the official catalogs and bulletins of the larger schools and jurisdictions. University of Virginia, Falls Church Regional Center

Tuition: "Legal residents of Virginia who have reached their 60th birthday prior to the beginning of the current semester and whose taxable income does not exceed $5,000 may be admitted without cost to full-time or part-time credit-course study in State-supported institutions. Further, they may audit courses free of charge, regardless of income. They are to be admitted to credit courses only after all tuition-paying students have been accommodated. This fall, the credit-course registration date for senior citizens is Friday, Sept. 15."

To "audit" a course means to sit in on the instruction without receiving any credit - taking exams or not, as desired.

For continuing education units and noncredit courses, fees "are reduced by 25 percent for citizens 60 years of age or older." Such applicants are asked to preregister by mail.

Phone number: 532-5800. George Mason University (Fairfax City, Other Locations)

George Mason officials emphasize that the university is oriented toward adult students, including seniors. They expect to award a bachelor's degree soon to an 82-year-old woman. They offer numerous night classes.

Tuition: All tuition is waived for credit courses for senior citizens meeting the same requirements listed above for UVA. However, unlike UVA, the discounts for noncredit courses also are 100 percent.

Phone number: 323-2436. Northern Virginia Community College.

Tuition: "Senior citizens wishing to enroll without tuition charge . . . will be accommodated on a space-available basis after all tuition-paying students have registered."

Phone numbers: Alexandria campus, 323-4285; Annandale campus, 323-3000; Loudoun campus, 323-4561; Manassas campus (703) 368-0184; Woodbridge campus, (703) 670-2191; Extended Learning Institute, 323-3347. Arlington County

A wide array of courses is offered.

Tuition: "Arlington County residents 65 years of age or older may be enrolled in classes are at one-half the tuition listed, with the exception of classes with $6 or less tuition." City of Alexandria.

Recreational and cultural courses as well as vocational classes are offered for seniors.

Tuition: For any course offered through the city school system, there is "free tuition for citizens who are both retired and unemployed." No Specific age qualification is set.

Phone number: 549-8340 City of Falls Church

Hobby and leisure courses, courses for college credit and others are available to senior. Tuition: Fees may be waived for residents age 65 and over who make this request.

Phone number: 241-2122. Fairfax County

Many fields are instruction are covered, including newer vocations such as data processing.

Tuition: "Fairfax County residents 60 years ago or older who still suffer a financial hardship if the tution fee is paid may certify that such a hardship exists by signing the blank on the registration form 'senior citizen requesting waiver' and may register without payment of tuition fees."

Phone numbers, adult education centers: Annandale, 256-8448; Edison, 971-132; Marshall, 893-2447; Woodson, 323-7555.