Walmart Expands College For $1 A Day
June 13, 2019
Walmart Expands College For $1 A Day
by Zack Friedman, Senior Contributor
Personal Finance | Author, The Lemonade Life
It’s hard to beat Walmart’s low prices. That includes college for $1 a day. Here's how it works and what you need to know.
Walmart College Plan: $1 A Day
It’s been one year since Walmart, the largest private sector employer in the U.S., announced a plan to pay for college for its more than 1.5 million employees.
Walmart offers all full-time, part-time and salaried Walmart U.S. store, supply chain, home office and Sam’s Club associates an opportunity to attend college for only $1 a day for the duration of their college program. Walmart covers the full cost - beyond financial aid - of tuition, fees and books. With this program, Walmart wants to ensure that its associates can earn a debt-free college degree.
Now, Walmart is expanding its college plan and making it accessible to high school students to provide a “bridge to the workforce.” At a time when fewer young people are working full-time after high school, Walmart hopes to attract and retain more high school students to its workforce and train the next generation of leaders. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, for example, began working at Walmart when he was in high school.
To further these goals, Walmart will now offer:
- Flexible job scheduling, including working the same days and shifts for up to 13 weeks;
- Free ACT and SAT prep;
- Up to seven hours of free college credit through Live Better U’s College Start program; and
- A debt-free college degree through Live Better U (upon high school completion) in the fields of technology, business or supply chain management.
How Walmart’s College Plan Works
Walmart associates and high school students can attend one of six non-profit universities to earn a degree online while working:
- University of Florida (Florida)
- Brandman University (California)
- Bellevue University (Nebraska)
- Southern New Hampshire University (New Hampshire)
- Purdue University Global (Indiana)
- Wilmington University (Delaware)
Walmart associates are eligible to apply once they have worked at Walmart for at least 90 days. Walmart expects that all Walmart associates who apply will be accepted. If an employee leaves the company before completing a degree, the employee does not have to pay back any costs to Walmart (but will no longer have their education subsidized).
Since launching less than a year ago, more than 7,500 Walmart associates from all 50 states have been accepted into at least one of the education programs. Walmart estimates that more than 60,000 Walmart associates could join the program within the first five years.
Which Types of Degrees Are Offered?
Originally, Walmart covered associates and bachelor's degrees in business and supply chain management since they are "parts of a broader approach to preparing the workforce to succeed today and into the future." Now, Walmart is expanding its program by offering 14 additional degrees and certificates in areas such as cybersecurity, computer science, computer and network security and computing technology. Walmart partnered with Guild Education, an education benefits platform, which will provide academic counselors to help Walmart associates with everything from the application process to choosing the right degree.
"Access to higher education is one way to grow your career,” said Greg Foran, CEO of Walmart U.S., in a statement. “So, in addition to providing people with an entry to the workforce and access to our on-the-job training, I’m proud Walmart also offers our associates programs like Live Better U to help them achieve their educational goals."
An Expansion Of Walmart's Education Benefits
Walmart also offers multiple other educational benefits to attract and retain its employees for the long-term. Among other benefits, Walmart pays the complete cost for associates and eligible family members for earning a high school diploma or GED. Walmart also offers associates and eligible family members tuition discounts, financial aid assistance and education coaching across Guild’s broader network of more than 80 accredited, nonprofit university partners. Associates also can earn college credit through paid work at Walmart Academies. Through the Live Better U Scholar Awards, Walmart will also offer a $1,500 bonus to up to 5,000 Walmart associates each year who graduate and did not previously earn college credit.
Walmart is not the only company helping its employees with education benefits. Among others, many companies ranging from Fidelity and PriceWatershouseCoopers (PwC) to Aetna and Penguin Random House help their employees pay off student loans.
Student Loan Debt Statistics
The latest student loan debt statistics show there are more than 44 million borrowers who collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. alone. According to personal finance site Make Lemonade, student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category - behind only mortgage debt - and higher than both credit cards and auto loans. Student loan repayment remains as one of the biggest challenges facing graduates.
With this debt-free college plan, not only is Walmart making college more affordable and accessible, but Walmart is also improving the lives of its people.
Way to make lemonade.