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Walmart Offers Free College Tuition to Its 1.5 Million Employees

Walmart announced on Wednesday plans to pay college tuition fees for employees in certain programs at select universities across the country.

The company, which brought in about $500 billion in revenue last year, will pay full tuition for employees who enroll at the University of Florida, Brandman University in California, and Bellevue University in Nebraska in programs related to retail, The New York Times reports

Financial contribution by workers themselves will be $1 per day — and the company will pay the rest, including books and other associated fees. Walmart will pay tuition costs up-front, meaning students will not have to take out loans, a common criticism of a similar program Starbucks launched several years ago with Arizona University. 

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“Investing in the personal and professional success of our associates is vital to Walmart’s future success,” Greg Foran, CEO of Walmart US, said in a statement. “We know training and learning opportunities empower associates to deliver for customers while growing and advancing in their careers.” 

Although the company has extended its tuition assistance program to its 1.5 million US workers, the company expects around 68,000 workers will take advantage of the program over its first five years.

The company also stands to benefit from offering education benefits to its employees. According to a study from the nonprofit Lumina Foundation, investing in employee education programs can lead to a 129% return on investment for corporations, thanks to higher employee retention rates

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Lumina will study the impact of Walmart’s new initiative, according to a press release on its website. 

“We hope Walmart’s program inspires other employers to take action,” Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, wrote in a blog post. “Its influence extends far beyond its...employees and its more than 5,000 stores.” 

Walmart is not the first company to offer tuition assistance to all of its employees. Other companies, including fast food restaurants such as Taco Bell and Chipotle, have also partnered with nonprofit and for-profit universities to provide education to low-income workers. 

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and ensuring access to quality education is goal number four. You can join us and take action here.