How to Get Amazon (and Other Retailers) to Pay College Tuition

In an effort to attract and retain talent in a tough job market, Amazon announced yesterday that it will cover 100% of the training costs of its employees. And Amazon isn’t alone – other major retailers including Walmart, Target, and Starbucks are increasingly offering free educational perks to stand out from the competition. Here’s a look at what they offer.

How Amazon’s New Education Advantage Works

Starting in January, Amazon front-line employees will pay the full cost of their college tuition (including tuition, textbooks, tuition fees), as well as costs associated with high school graduation or English as a second language certificates.

Part-time employees who work just 20 hours a week are also eligible, although Amazon will only cover 50% of their costs, according to the Wall Street Journal . The program starts 90 days after the employee’s start date, and there is no limit on the number of years they can enjoy the benefit. It’s important to note that Amazon will pay tuition and fees in advance , which means employees won’t have to pay for their tuition in advance and apply for a refund later.

Amazon is also launching three in-house education programs that will train employees in data center technology, information technology , user experience, and research design .

Why are they offering this benefit now?

Amazon, which has been criticized for its working conditions and quota requirements , is desperate to hire and retain employees, hiring more than 500,000 employees in the past year alone . The company has big pockets, so it is willing to invest a little money in exchange for a more stable workforce, even if the recipients of the training leave for other companies. This is also a competitive move as other major retail employers recently announced 100% education benefits for their employees.

Other major retailers offering tuition fees

  • Walmart last month announced an education program that covers 100% of the training cost for 1.5 million part-time and full-time employees in the United States, including those who work at Sam’s Club stores. The program is very similar to what Amazon is currently offering. More information can be found here .
  • Target recently announced that its 340,000 American workers are eligible for a 100% -paid college tuition program, which includes tuition fees and textbooks for a range of programs at more than 40 schools and universities across the country. The company will also pay up to $ 10,000 a year for master’s programs at its network of schools. More information can be found here .
  • Disney also offers 100% paid tuition for full-time and part-time employees at Disney Aspire’s online schools, which include courses for both undergraduate and graduate students. More information can be found here .
  • Papa John’s has a Dough & Degrees program whereby employees in corporate offices are eligible for a 100% refund of tuition fees for online undergraduate and graduate programs in partnership with Purdue University Global . To qualify, employees must work at least 20 hours a week and work at least 90 days. More information can be found here .
  • Chipotle offers free college tuition for degrees in agriculture, culinary and hospitality through a network of accredited universities and colleges. To be eligible, employees must have worked for at least four months, of which a minimum of 15 hours per week. More information can be found here .
  • Starbucks will pay the full cost of online tuition at Arizona State University for American employees who work at least 20 hours a week. According to the Wall Street Journal , there are 50 areas of study, from art history to urban planning. More information can be found here .


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