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Walmart to cover tuition, books for staff in U.S. as part of $1 billion investment

Education offerings are tied directly to growth areas at the company, including cybersecurity and supply chain


Walmart is paying 100 per cent of college tuition, and books, for its employees in the United States at select schools, it said. There is no word, yet, if this policy will be expanded to Canada.

The program, expected to cost $1 billion (all figures U.S.) over the next five years is part of the company’s Live Better U (LBU) education program. Walmart said it is removing a $1 per day fee for it associates.

“This means approximately 1.5 million part-time and full-time Walmart and Sam’s Club associates in the U.S. can earn college degrees or learn trade skills without the burden of education debt,” the company said in a press release. “As the largest U.S. private employer, Walmart is committing to invest nearly $1 billion over the next five years in career-driven training and development.”

Path of opportunity

“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.”

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The LBU program was initially designed after consulting with experts, reviewing other employer-provided education programs and studying the research around what helps drive completion rates among adult working learners. This helped guide the initial $1 a day approach, but the economy and job market have changed, and Walmart is always looking for new ways to encourage more associates to pursue further education, it said.

“We’re also excited to add in-demand college degree and certificate options in business administration, supply chain and cybersecurity. These additional offerings join a robust catalog of programs to set associates up for new career opportunities,” Stomski said. “Our education offerings tie directly to our growth areas at Walmart, and what better way to fill the pipeline of future talent than with our own associates.”

New academic partners

In addition, Walmart will add four 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. Each of these institutions were chosen for their history of success with adult and working learner programs as well as their focus on degree completion.

Walmart is committed to eliminating the burden of education debt. Cost is a leading barrier for earning a degree with student loan debt in the U.S. topping $1.7 trillion. 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.

“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 and co-founder of Guild Education. “Walmart is creating growth opportunities for their workforce and preparing them for the future of work.”