Ian Patrick, FISM News
The largest private employer in the United States, Walmart, recently announced that they are investing $1 billion to pay for 100% of college tuition and books for its associates. The company will start this program on August 13.
In an announcement on their corporate website, Walmart said that the program known as Live Better U (LBU) will be available to both part-time and full-time employees. This investment will last for the next 5 years and aims to incentivize its associates to earn degrees and “grow their careers,” according to Senior Vice President of Learning and Leadership Lorraine Stomski.
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.
This isn’t the introduction for LBU – the program has actually existed for over two years. It started in 2018, when Walmart offered 50 different programs by charging associates who were enrolled $1 a day. Over the years Walmart added new classes, specialties, and benefits in their program prior to this most recent update. Now, associates no longer have to pay the $1 per day cost to receive the benefits.
Walmart is able to offer these programs and classes through partnerships with various universities and academic institutions. They had partnered with Brandman University, Penn Foster, Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, Wilmington University, and Voxy EnGen as the program developed. Now they are adding Johnson & Wales University, the University of Arizona, the University of Denver, and Pathstream as partners.
University of Denver’s Chancellor, Dr. Jeremy Haefner, spoke highly of the collaboration:
The University of Denver is passionately committed to working adult learners. Through this partnership with Walmart and Guild Education, approximately 1.5 million associates will now have access to DU’s programs, completely funded by their employer. We are proud to be a part of this moment for Live Better U and every moment to come on associates’ upcoming educational journeys.
In their statement, Walmart made mention of their commitment to providing free education as the national student loan debt rises. This number currently sits at just over $1.71 trillion.