BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Walmart, the largest U.S. private employer, will pay 100% of college tuition and books for associates through its Live Better U (LBU) education program.
Starting on Aug. 16, 1.5 million part-time and full-time Walmart and Sam’s Club associates in the United States can earn college degrees and learn trade skills without the burden of education debt, the company announced Tuesday
"We are creating a path of opportunity for our associates to grow their careers at Walmart, so they can continue to build better lives for themselves and their families," said Lorraine Stomski, senior vice president of learning and leadership at Walmart. "This investment is another way we can support our associates to pursue their passion and purpose while removing the barriers that too often keep adult working learners from obtaining degrees."
Student loan debt in the United States topped $1.7 trillion in 2021. Since launching the LBU program in 2018, more than 52,000 Walmart employees have participated in the program, 8,000 have graduated so far. This summer, almost 28,000 associates are active in a LBU program.
The LBU program was designed around research findings on what helps drive competition rates among adult working students. Walmart’s original program took a $1 a day approach, where employees would set aside $1 every day from their paycheck to help pay for education. Walmart is committing $1 billion over the next five years in career-driven training and development.
UNION, NJ - MARCH 22: A general view of the front of a Walmart store on Springfield Road on March 22, 2020 in Union, NJ.
On Aug. 16, Walmart will discontinue its $1 a day program and move forward with covering 100% of the cost of tuition and books.
Walmart’s program offers college degrees and certificates in business administration, supply chain and cybersecurity. Its offering directly correlates to future growth areas at Walmart, building a pipeline of future talent within the company, Stomski said.
Walmart will add four academic partners in Johnson & Wales University, the University of Arizona, the University of Denver and Pathstream in addition to its existing partners, Brandman University, Penn Foster, Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, Wilmington University and Voxy EnGen.
The institutions were chosen for their history of success with working, adult learners and their focus on degree completion, Walmart said.
"As the company making one of the nation's largest investments in education for America's workforce, Walmart is setting a new standard for what it looks like to prepare workers for the jobs of the future," said Rachel Carlson, CEO & co-founder of Guild Education.
More than 220 million customers visit 10,500 of Walmart’s stores each week in 24 countries and its eCommerce websites. In 2021, Walmart made $559 billion in revenue. Walmart currently employs more than 2.2 million associates worldwide.
This story was reported from Boston.