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Walmart Will Begin Offering A College Subsidy For Its US Employees

It seems the Trump tax cuts continue to trickle down from corporations to employees. Earlier this year, Walmart increased its starting hourly wage to $11 because of the tax stimulus. The company also expanded its maternity and parental leave policy and added an adoption benefit.

Now, the mega-retailer will begin offering a college subsidy for its US employees.

The new program will assist Walmart workers who pursue associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in supply-chain or business management from three nonprofit schools.

What’s the cost to employees? Just $1 a day.

The company plans to subsidize tuition, fees, and books to any member of its 1.5 million-large workforce. Both full timers and part times are eligible. The retail giant will also provide assistance with application and enrollment processes and offer academic counseling. Walmart executives estimate that as many as 68,000 employees may take advantage of this generous offer.

Walmart already offers subsidized programs to help employees get their high-school diploma. The new tuition program is designed to further improve employee engagement and retention.

While declining to disclose the potential costs to the company, Walmart’s US Vice President of People Innovation did say, “Many of our associates don’t have the opportunity to complete a degree. We felt strongly that this is something that would improve their lives and help us run a better business.”

Walmart and Sam’s Club employees have a choice of three schools: The University of Florida, California’s Brandman University or Bellevue University in Nebraska. The company’s executives said they chose these schools in part because they offer flexible class times.

Each of these universities has programs that focus on adult learning, and courses are available online in addition to on campus. Walmart has announced that there will be no penalty for courses in progress if an employee leaves the company, and no requirement to continue working at Walmart for any length of time after earning a degree.

This new offer is the latest example of a major company footing the bill for employees’ higher education. Three years ago, Starbucks Corp. announced it would pay full tuition for its workforce. The program has proved incredibly popular and successful. Starbucks estimates that 25,000 employees will graduate from Arizona State University by 2025 as part of its education initiative.

With both Walmart and Starbucks now offering tuition assistance, there’s building peer pressure on other companies to invest in their employees’ educations. My guess is that we’ll see more companies stepping up and doing the same, with those businesses that have benefitted significantly from the recent tax reform leading the way.

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