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NextGen Magazine


Companies Offer More Tuition Benefit Options

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Sep 29, 2023

Tuition benefits have been around for many years, but companies are offering them more, as they can be considered an employee benefit in an age of student debt and rising college costs, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Such programs vary widely. Benefits may differ for full-time and part-time employees, they may depend on an employee’s role, there may be restrictions on what may qualify, or the employee must stay with the employer for a certain period to get the benefit.

Such benefits can help with retention and employee morale, and workers can build their skills while having their education suffered or subsidized.

Chipotle Mexican Grill offers 100 percent prepaid tuition at 10 universities. Employees who complete the program, on average, stay with the company for twice as long as those who haven’t gone through the program, Daniel Banks, director of global benefits, told The Journal. Since 2019, 30.5 percent of Chipotle employees enrolled in tuition-assistance or tuition-reimbursement programs through its education-benefits provider have been promoted, according to data provided by the company.

Walmart, which pays 100 percent of tuition and books for an undergraduate degree at more than 25 universities, has also seen greater retention. Participating Walmart hourly associates are significantly more likely to stay at the company than nonparticipants, and are twice as likely to be promoted as nonparticipants according to a September 2021 study by Lumina Foundation.

Likewise, Disney said that more than 3,800 current employees have graduated since its tuition benefits program launched in 2018, and 3,100 students and graduates have been internally promoted.

Many employers offer up to $5,250 a year in tuition reimbursement for college courses, which is the amount the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says can be excluded from taxable income. Some offer more.

Boeing employees can receive assistance of $25,000 a year for graduate degree programs and $15,000 a year for undergraduate degree programs, as well as funding toward nondegree programs, paid directly to the institution Total funding is offered for tuition and expenses for select STEM programs. There are 86 approved majors and strategic fields of study.

More companies are offering prepaid options.

“It’s about removing any kind of obstacle that would prevent our associates from growing themselves and growing their career at Walmart,” Lorraine Stomski, who runs Walmart’s associate learning and leadership team, told The Journal. expanded its tuition benefit offerings for U.S. employees last year, and now offers English-language courses and high-school completion through bachelor’s degrees on a prepaid basis. Previously, the prepaid offering was only for certification programs. Degrees aren’t limited to their roles at Amazon, Tammy Thieman, global director of Amazon Career Choice, told The Journal.

“Our real goal is for the career success of our employees whether they stay at Amazon or not,” she said.