Walmart this week announced that it is expanding a debt-free college tuition benefit for the retail giant's roughly 1.4 million U.S. employees. The company is adding 14 degrees and certificates in technology fields such as cybersecurity, computer science and network security to the Live Better U program, which had featured degrees in business and supply chain management. The company said it would add more credentials in coming months.
Walmart employees are expected to pay $365 a year to participate, the equivalent of $1 per day. Walmart also offers high school completion to its employees, as well as discounts on master's degrees and other higher education programs.
The company works with Guild Education to administer the program. Guild, an intermediary and technology platform, has partnered with several nonprofit, regionally accredited universities to offer online credentials to employees of participating companies. Walmart's university partners, operating through Guild, include Southern New Hampshire University, Purdue University Global, the University of Florida, Brandman University, Wilmington University and Bellevue University.
So far, more than 7,500 Walmart employees from all 50 states have enrolled in at least one of the programs, Walmart said.
“Live Better U is more than an education assistance program; it’s a strategy that creates opportunities to learn and apply learning at work,” Mary Hawkins, president of Bellevue University, a Guild partner, said in a written statement. “We’ve had incredibly active student participation by Walmart associates in our business cohort degree programs, and we’ve seen retention rates that are above our university average. It’s been a remarkable first year of the program, and we are excited to embark on year two as we expand our degree offerings to Walmart associates.”