Walmart, the largest private sector employer in the United States, is touting its subsidized online college tuition for its employees as it looks to attract and retain talent in a tight market. It may sound too good to be true that Walmart plans to offer employees a college education for $1 a day...what's the catch?
The retail giant, which employs over 1.5 million employees throughout the United States, is hoping to "increase [our] associate base" and increase retention, according to Drew Holler, Vice President of Associate Experience. "A lot of employers that have done this have seen an uptick in their application flow." With Walmart's college tuition plan, both full-time and part-time employees who have been with the company for at least 90 days will have an opportunity to attend college for $1 a day and receive access to discounted college tuition, books, and a coach who can instruct them on the appropriate program while guiding them through the application program. The Walmart college tuition program is limited to online degree programs offered by three schools - University of Florida, Brandman University, and Bellevue University - and students must be pursuing a bachelor's or associate degree in either business or supply chain management. Walmart "declined to disclose the cost of the program," according to The Wall Street Journal.
While the Walmart college tuition plan is aimed to give employees "a chance at upward mobility off the retail point," the move is, according to some critics, "likely to be disproportionately appealing to people who are on the more ambitious end of the distribution." This program is not the first of its kind to be offered by a large employer - or even by Walmart itself. In fact, Walmart offered a college tuition perk back in 2010 through a deal with the American Publication Inc. to "provide discounted classes at the for-profit American Public University." Other large corporations such as Starbucks, McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, have historically offered college tuition programs as a means of recruiting and retaining employees. College tuition programs also pay off for large employers who receive favorable tax treatment; the IRS enables employers to give employees "several thousand dollars' worth of tuition benefits tax-free."
"Investing in the personal and professional success of our associates is vital to Walmart's future success," said Greg Forman, CEO of Walmart U.S. "We know training and learning opportunities empower associates to deliver for customers while growing and advancing in their careers." In addition to the Walmart college tuition program, Walmart offers two college scholarship programs for its employees: the Walmart Dependent Scholarship and the Walmart Associate Scholarship. To see if your employer offers scholarships, browse our scholarships by employer.
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