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Walmart to pay 100% of college tuition and book costs for employees looking to continue education

Starting August 16, the retailer will drop its existing $1-per-day fee for Walmart and Sam's Club workers who participate in its Live Better U education program.

Walmart to pay 100% of college tuition and book costs for employees looking to continue education
Cover Image Source: A Walmart store on February 18, 2020, in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Editor's note: This article was originally published on July 29, 2021. It has since been updated.

Walmart announced Tuesday that it will pay 100% of college tuition and book costs for its associates through its Live Better U (LBU) education program. Starting August 16, the retailer will drop its existing $1-per-day fee for Walmart and Sam's Club workers who participate in the LBU initiative and also begin covering the costs of their books. The move is intended to help build avenues for success and long-term career opportunities without the burden of education debt. "We feel that eliminating the dollar-a-day investment removes the financial barriers to enrollment, and it will increase access," Lorraine Stomski, senior vice president of learning and leadership at Walmart (WMT), told the press, reports CNN.


Around 28,000 workers currently participate in the LBU program, which Walmart began in 2018. "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," Stomski said in a press release. "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." The company said it was inspired to adjust the terms of the program by changes in the economy and job market.


The retailer also announced this week that it was adding four new academic partners, bringing the total to 10 — ranging from the University of Arizona to Southern New Hampshire University — and offering more degree and certificate options. "We're also excited to add in-demand college degree and certificate options in business administration, supply chain, and cybersecurity," said Stomski. "These additional offerings join a robust catalog of programs to set associates up for new career opportunities. 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."


Johnson & Wales University, the University of Arizona, the University of Denver, and Pathstream join the existing list of educational partners which includes Brandman University, Penn Foster, Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, Wilmington University, and Voxy EnGen. "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," Walmart said in the press release. "Walmart is committed to eliminating the burden of education debt. 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 an 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 & co-founder of Guild Education. "Walmart is creating growth opportunities for their workforce and preparing them for the future of work." Participants of the LBU program must remain part-time or full-time employees at Walmart to be eligible.


"We are thrilled to partner with Guild Education and Walmart in our mission to deliver Arizona's world-class higher education programs to working adult learners in a flexible, engaging, and highly effective way. We are honored to be a part of the industry-leading Live Better U program at the nation's largest private employer and look forward to welcoming Walmart and Sam's Club associates into the Wildcat family," said University of Arizona President, Dr. Robert C. Robbins, M.D. "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," said University of Denver Chancellor, Dr. Jeremy Haefner.

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