Starting this fall, Target has made it easier for U.S.-based team members to get their degrees with a new debt-free education assistance benefit. More than 340,000 full-time and part-time employees at stores, distribution centers, and headquarters locations will have access to free undergraduate and associates degrees, certificates, bootcamp programs, textbooks, and fees with no out-of-pocket costs required.
Target’s partnership with Guild Education will provide easy access to more than 250 business-aligned programs from over 40 schools, colleges, and universities. The benefit means Target will provide direct payments to their employees academic institution of up to $5,250 for non-master’s degrees. It will also fund advanced degrees within the network of schools, paying up to $10,000 annually for master’s programs.
Target is investing $200 million into the program over the next four years to help eliminate student debt for its employees. The program is part of the company’s sustainability strategy commitment- Target Forward. They hope to promote access to education to build a team that equitably reflects the communities they serve.
Team members will have a range of options, including courses for high school completion, college prep, and English language learning as well as select certificates, certifications, bootcamps, associate, and undergraduate degrees. A few schools to choose from are University of Arizona, Oregon State University, Morehouse College and Paul Quinn College.
Another retail giant investing in their employees, Walmart will be investing nearly $1 billion over the next five years in career-driven training and development for its workers. The largest U.S. private employer, the company announced last week that it will pay 100% of college tuition and books for its associates through its Live Better U (LBU) education program. The corporation already had a program for continued education in place offered to employees for $1 a day but they are now doing away with the fee making all education programs paid for by Walmart.
The Live Better U Program will now pay for 100% of tuition and books and is available for all of their approximately 1.5 million part-time and full-time Walmart and Sam’s Club associates in the U.S. starting on their first day. Employees can earn college degrees or learn trade skills without the burden of student loans with over 50 schools to choose from. Walmart will add four more academic partners, including Johnson & Wales University, the University of Arizona, the University of Denver, and Pathstream. These complement the existing partners: Brandman University, Penn Foster, Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, Wilmington University, and Voxy EnGen.
Since launching LBU in 2018, more than 52,000 associates have participated in the program to date, and 8,000 have already graduated. Nearly 28,000 associates have been active in a LBU program this summer. Currently, cost is a leading barrier for earning a degree—with student loan debt in the U.S. topping $1.7 trillion.