If you’re looking for a part-time or full-time job to help offset the cost of going to college, you may want to check out your local retail store, fast food restaurant, or coffee shop. In a move to attract workers, companies like Target, Walmart, Starbucks, and many more, are now offering to cover a portion of, or the full cost of, tuition for undergraduate degrees, along with textbook fees, for their part- and full-time workers.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the companies offering these unique education assistance programs:
- Target: According to a recent press release, all U.S. part-time and full-time Target team members are eligible for debt-free undergraduate degrees, certificates, certifications, free textbooks, and more, with no out-of-pocket costs on their first day of work. Their “debt-free offering will include an industry-leading 250 business-aligned programs from over 40 schools, colleges, and universities; Target will also pay up to $10,000 annually for master’s programs.”
- Walmart: Walmart announced it is committing to invest nearly $1 billion over the next five years in career-driven training and development and will pay 100 percent of college tuition and books for associates through its Live Better U (LBU) education program. Approximately 1.5 million part-time and full-time Walmart and Sam’s Club associates can benefit from the program.
- UPS: The UPS Earn & Learn Program provides students part-time work and tuition assistance and an opportunity to earn up to $25,000 for their college education.
- Starbucks: U.S.-based employees working part- or full-time can receive 100 percent tuition coverage for a first-time bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University’s online program. Some costs, such as textbooks, are not included.
- Home Depot: Home Depot announced a new education program that provides $6,000 per year for full-time associates, $3,000 per year for part-time associates, and $2,500 per year for immediate family members in a partnership with Bellevue University.
- Amazon: Amazon will cover up to 95 percent of tuition and fees (up to one year) toward a certificate or diploma for qualified employees in specific fields of study, leading to in-demand jobs.
- Chipotle: Through a partnership with Guild Education, Chipotle employees have the opportunity to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees through a company-sponsored tuition reimbursement program. Employees receive up to $5,250 per year, and an additional $5,815 in available federal grants for those who qualify.
- Apple: In addition to Apple University, which provides online classes to strengthen business and software skills, Apple reimburses its employees for educational expenses, including tuition.
- Wells Fargo: Wells Fargo will reimburse employees up to $5,000 annually for eligible tuition expenses and offers scholarships for dependent children ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 each year.
- McDonald’s: McDonald’s Archways to Opportunity program provides its employees the chance to improve their English skills, earn a high school diploma, receive college tuition assistance, and access an advisor for education and career planning.
- BP: BP’s educational assistance program reimburses eligible employees for up to 90 percent of their eligible educational and vocational expenses at an approved educational institution.
The Fine Print
Before signing up with a company with the intention of utilizing their educational assistance benefits, make sure to consider the following:
- Familiarize yourself with the actual educational benefit and know what is being offered. Will you be required to enroll in a specific program or college to redeem the benefit? Ask questions if you’re unsure about any limitations or time restrictions.
- Tuition reimbursement means the company will pay you back for eligible expenses. You will still need to pay tuition costs up front. Identify the length of time it takes for a company to reimburse you for tuition costs.
- Make sure you are aware of any terms and conditions of the educational benefits the company is offering. If you need to quit, how does that impact your education benefits? Find out all of the details before you commit.
- Ensure you can balance a part-time or full-time job with your college course load. Discuss expectations of a potential employer in terms of expected working hours to qualify for the educational assistance and determine how many classes you can manage.
- Some companies that provide tuition assistance may require you to sign a contract in order to receive educational benefits. Always read the fine print before signing anything to ensure you know what’s expected of you and that you are in agreement.
- Since any tuition assistance is a benefit, be prepared to pay tax to the IRS on any benefit amount you receive from your employer over $5,250, which will be listed as income.
Take advantage of any educational benefits your employer offers you to help fund your education. Applying for scholarships is another valuable way to finance your degree, so make sure to check out Peterson’s scholarship search to access over $10 billion in private aid!