Jul 27, 2021 - Economy

Walmart offers to fully cover employees' college tuition and books at some schools

A walmart store

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Walmart announced Tuesday that it will cover the cost of college tuition and books for employees participating in its Live Better U education program.

Why it matters: Employees at Walmart and its subsidiary Sam's Club will be eligible to "earn college degrees or learn trade skills without the burden of education debt," the company wrote in a news release.

The big picture: The Live Better U (LBU) program was launched in 2018, in partnership with certain schools, with a $1-per-day fee for participating associates.

  • This fee has now been eliminated due to changes in the "economy and job market," per the company statement. Walmart also will invest $1 billion over the next five years in career training and development for employees.
  • Walmart announced Tuesday that it was expanding the number of partner schools from six to 10.

Of note: Walmart stated that 52,000 employees have participated in the program to date and 28,000 associates are currently enrolled. But this presents only a sliver of its actual workforce.

  • The 28,000 employees enrolled in an LBU program this summer constitute less than 2% of Walmart's U.S. workforce, reports the Washington Post.
  • Programs like LBU "tend to be relatively low-cost corporate investments because very few employees have the time or resources to sign up," notes the Post.

What they're saying: “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,” Lorraine Stomski, senior vice president of learning and leadership at Walmart, said in the news release.

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