The world’s largest retailer announced Tuesday it will pay 100% of all college tuition and books for its associates in the U.S.
Walmart’s Live Better U (LBU) education program represents an investment of almost $1 billion over the next five years, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said.
Starting Aug. 16, the $1-a-day fee will be removed for associates, making all education programs paid for by Walmart. This means about 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 education debt, the company said.
“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.”
Walmart said its LBU program was 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.
According to Bloomberg, the 3-year-old program is also adding four new schools and degree or certificate programs in areas including business administration and cybersecurity.
Since 2018, 52,000 associates have participated in the program and 8,000 have graduated, with nearly 28,000 currently enrolled this summer.
Program graduates are twice as likely to get promoted, Stomski told Bloomberg, and are retained at a “significantly higher rate” that she would not quantify.