Dear Commons Community,
Walmart announced plans two days ago to subsidize college tuition for its 1.4 million workers in the United States, and joins a growing list of companies that are helping employees pay for higher education.
The retailer will pay tuition for its workers to enroll in college courses — online or on campus — to earn degrees in either supply chain management or business, company officials announced at Walmart’s annual shareholder meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas. As reported by the New York Times:
“Full- and part-time Walmart workers can use the subsidy to take courses at the University of Florida; Brandman University in Irvine, Calif.; and Bellevue University in Bellevue, Neb.
The three universities were chosen because of their high graduation rates, particularly among part-time students, and their experience with those already in the work force, Walmart executives said. The employees will not be obligated to continue working for Walmart after they get their degrees, and must put up only $1 a day toward the cost of classes.
“We feel like this is another step forward in investing in our associates,” said Julie Murphy, an executive vice president in Walmart’s United States operation.
Walmart, the country’s largest employer, introduced the tuition subsidy as it seeks ways to retain workers at a time of low unemployment. Employers like Starbucks and Amazon also offer tuition support.
Walmart, which has faced criticism over low pay and poor working conditions, is also trying to burnish its image while expanding its presence in more upscale markets online.
This year, Walmart raised its base wage $2, to $11 an hour, and expanded its maternity and family leave benefits. The company has also begun offering lower-level store managers more job training programs called “Walmart Academies,” where employees learn basic management skills…
…Walmart officials did not provide an estimated cost for the tuition subsidy, but they expected that about 68,000 employees would probably enroll during the first five years, based on those who have expressed interest and an analysis of similar programs in other industries.
The University of Florida is probably the best known of the universities in the Walmart program. Brandman University, which has multiple campuses in California and an online curriculum, has a focus on Hispanic students. The billionaire investor Joe Ricketts, who founded TD Ameritrade, is among Bellevue University’s benefactors.
Walmart said its goal was to help employees obtain a college degree without having to take out loans. Walmart workers enrolled in the program would not be required to pay for their education upfront and seek reimbursement later.”
This appears to be a good move by Walmart. Its workers should take advantage of it.