Tuition help is increasingly becoming common job benefit with companies

Job seekers stood in line to apply for open positions at the Amazon distribution center in Etna, Ohio, in this file photo from 2018. Amazon is among big companies offering tuition assistance in a bid to recruit workers.  FILE
Caption
Job seekers stood in line to apply for open positions at the Amazon distribution center in Etna, Ohio, in this file photo from 2018. Amazon is among big companies offering tuition assistance in a bid to recruit workers. FILE

Job seekers are increasingly gaining the upper hand in the current market, and a growing number of employers are highlighting in their job ads that employees can get help paying for tuition.

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Some, like Kroger, have had tuition assistance for years. Others just added the perk in the recent scramble to attract workers — Macy’s announced a new tuition benefit on Tuesday.

Tuition reimbursement programs don’t always benefit employers or employees, and people need to consider the pros and cons, according to Doug Barry, president of local staffing firm BarryStaff.

“In this job market, it would be tough,” Barry said. “Are you training them to stay or are you training them to get another job?”

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For workers looking at options, Barry said people need to consider whether the assistance comes with terms that could lock them into a job.

Some of the tuition benefits are also managed through vendors with a list of specific schools covered.

And Barry said there’s been so much uncertainty over the last year and a half, making it tough to plan. “There’s so many unknowns right now,” he said.

For those looking into job options, companies hiring locally that have tuition assistance include the following examples:

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Kroger

Kroger’s tuition reimbursement program, offering up to $21,000 for both part-time and full-time associates, covers options from a GED to a PhD.

Kroger said in October that since the program started in 2018, hourly associates have made up 88.4% of those who have taken advantage of the program so far.

Target

In August, Target announced a program for 100% tuition covered for specific undergraduate and master’s degrees, certificates, bootcamps, high school completion, and college prep. The program is through a vendor, Guild Education.

Waste Management

Waste Management, also working with vendor Guild Education, expanded its benefits to not just employees, but also their spouses and eligible dependents beginning with enrollment in 2022 educational programs.

“In our area, we have hundreds of employees that have been with the company for more than 20 years, which is a testament to our people-first culture and how we support and grow our employees throughout their career,” said WM Great Lakes Area VP Aaron Johnson, when announcing the benefit this summer.

Macy’s

Macy’s announced Nov. 9 it was launching a new tuition benefit program. Beginning in February 2022, it will have a program also through Guild Education to cover 100% of tuition, books and fees for a wide range of options, including courses for a range of degrees, certificates and training within its network of options.

UPS

The UPS Earn and Learn program is available only for part-time package handler positions, with up to $5,250 in assistance per calendar year and a lifetime $25,000 maximum benefit.

Amazon

Starting in January 2022, Amazon said it is expanding its “career choice” program to new benefits, like pre-paying 100% of tuition for a wider range of education options. They are adding high school completion/GED, English as a second language, and bachelor’s degrees to their career choice benefits, in addition to the previously offered associate degrees and certificates.

U.S “blue badge” hourly employees (including part-time) will become eligible for the career choice program after 90 days of continuous employment Instead of the previous 12 months.

Home Depot

Home Depot’s tuition program is through Bellevue University. The company states that workers can get up to $6,000 per year for full-time associates, $3,000 per year for part-time associates, and $2,500 per year for their immediate family members.

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