A competitive labor market means employers are in wooing mode. Expect to see more companies offering better perks and benefits as competition remains high for workers to fill vacant jobs.
One of the most valuable of those perks: full or partial college tuition paid by your employer.
We found a few companies that pay for a full ride in higher education. More common are assistance programs that reimburse or cover a capped annual amount toward a degree at a community college, technical school or four-year college. Many companies partner with certain schools — some brick and mortar, some online — so you can’t necessarily get your degree anywhere you choose.
Here are 20 companies that help pay for college and some particulars on each one’s program.
Jobs That Pay for College Tuition for a Four-Year Degree
These programs will help you earn a degree, but there are rules and qualifications to meet.
Waste Management raised the stakes when it announced it will pay for employees and their children to earn a college degree.
Waste Management offers its 36,000 full-time employees in the U.S. access to more than 170 fully-funded programs, including a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree, short-form technology and business certificate programs, and high school completion. In 2022, it expanded the program and offered to pay for college for around 34,000 children and spouses who can start enrolling in education programs.
Education partners include eCornell, Pathstream, Paul Quinn College, Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, University of Arizona and others.
The red-shirted retailer also is one of the most recent employers adding college tuition to its benefits package for all U.S. employees.
Full and part-time team members can now Target-Launching-Debt-Free-Education-Assistance-Pr”>get tuition covered for more than 250 programs for certain undergraduate degrees and certifications at 40 schools online and in-person.
Target will also pay up to $10,000 a year for master’s programs within the network of schools.
Most part-time and all regular full-time Chipotle workers have access to free college degrees and tuition reimbursement programs.
To qualify for college benefits, you’ll need to work at Chipotle for 15 hours per week for four months, according to Chipotle’s education benefits portal.
College benefits include free associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in majors such as agricultural science, hospitality and supply chain. The company currently partners with the University of Arizona, Bellevue University, Brandman University, Southern New Hampshire University and Wilmington University, all of which have online degree program options.
If you want to study outside of the colleges it partners with, Chipotle also offers tuition reimbursement benefits of up to $5,250 per year.
The Disney Aspire program covers 100% of the tuition costs for both full-time and part-time hourly U.S. workers who want a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree from one of Disney’s partner universities.
These universities include the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida. All hourly cast members, regardless of location, can enroll in UF’s online programs. The UCF tuition assistance is limited to Florida residents.
All of Disney’s hourly workers are eligible for the Aspire program after their first 90 days of employment. Disney also covers the cost of textbooks and high school diploma programs. Disney pays the schools directly, so this may be more of a perk than tuition reimbursement programs. Employees don’t have to have to come up with the money on their own and wait to get reimbursed.
How about some financial aid to go with that caramel Frappuccino?
Starbucks has been ahead of the pack, offering its U.S. employees access to Arizona State University’s online bachelor’s degrees through its education assistance program.
The landmark Starbucks College Achievement Plan (SCAP) launched in 2015 and is available to all eligible employees across the country.
According to the fine print of the SCAP program, employees are considered eligible after “the first day of the second month after receiving a minimum of 240 total hours over three full, consecutive months.”
Arizona State University offers more than 100 different degrees online, and Starbucks will cover 100% of the tuition costs after scholarships and financial aid kick in. ASU first gives SCAP students a 42% scholarship, then the students get additional aid by filling out the FAFSA as part of the program. Starbucks covers the remaining tuition costs.
Other Starbucks-owned companies eligible for the program include Tazo and Teavana.
Extra perk for military service: Starbucks employees who are veterans can have one family member use the SCAP program to earn a college degree.
Boeing’s education assistance program reimburses 100% of tuition on eligible science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses (STEM) for a college degree or certificate program. It partners with about 300 schools across the country including Villanova University, the University of Washington and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Walmart and Sam’s Club
Walmart is the largest employer in the country, with an estimated 1.6 million U.S. workers. Through its Live Better U program, all of them are eligible for specific degrees at partner universities.
Under the program, Walmart offers tuition coverage for the cost of higher education. For many years the retailer required that employees pay $1 a day for their education, but it just announced it is now paying the full tuition. Degrees are offered through the University of Florida, Brandman University and Bellevue University. These schools were selected for their focus on serving working adult learners.
Employees who live near a partner university may attend in-person, but the vast majority choose to attend online, a Walmart spokesperson said.
And this isn’t only for a bachelor’s degree. Additional perks through Live Better U include discounted master’s degrees and free foreign language classes. Eligible employees can also pass on these benefits to family members.
Papa John’s Dough & Degrees is one of the tuition reimbursement programs that helps part-time employees, too. The pizza chain’s assistance program reimburses 100% of tuition for any employees at corporate-owned and some franchise stores working 20 or more hours a week for at least 90 days. They can pursue 180 different online degrees from Purdue University or the University of Maryland.
The company that offers the Discover Card also will also pay for college. It offers all of its employees unlimited financial assistance for an online degree at the University of Florida. Employees who don’t choose to attend UF can still get up to $5,250 for bachelor’s and $10,000 per year for master’s degrees a year to cover the cost of programs elsewhere.
Full-time employees are eligible for $5,250 and part-timers for $2,500 to pay for courses at schools of their choice. Employees can also get full tuition covered each year at five schools that have partnered with T-Mobile to cap the costs of online degree programs. These schools include: Ashford University, Capella University, Colorado Technical University, Kaplan and University of Phoenix.
Verizon offers full-time employees $13,250 a year in financial aid to earn a degree or certificate at Bellevue University, which has a strong online program. Part-time employees can get up to $8,000 a year in tuition cost. Employees’ immediate family members may qualify for up to $2,500 a year of tuition reimbursement.
Jobs that Offer Limited Tuition Reimbursement or Assistance
Numerous employers offer $2,500 to $6,000 a year in tuition assistance programs. That could be enough to pay for courses at a four-year college if you don’t live on campus or cover the cost of classes online.
Many students are finding that less-expensive, two-year degree programs or certifications can offer a solid paycheck and more employment opportunities than many four-year college degrees. Community colleges and technical schools specialize in fast-track programs for high-demand fields.
Even limited tuition aid or tuition reimbursement from an employer could cover all or most of the cost of certifications and two-year degrees that will help you move up the career ladder and make more money. And it sure beats taking on a student loan.
Amazon’s tuition assistance program will fund tuition – up to $5,250 annually for full-time associates and $2,625 for part-time associates – in advance for bachelor’s degrees, associate’s degrees, GEDs and ESL certifications.
Amazon steers employees toward degree programs that are in demand such as machine tool technologies, aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, nursing, medical lab technicians and other positions in healthcare.
BP will pay for 90% of employees’ educational and vocational courses through its Educational Assistance Program. It also pays 90% of books and other fees. Employees must have courses approved before registering.
The home improvement retailer offers three levels of tuition reimbursement. Full-time employees are eligible for $6,000 a year while part-time employees can receive $3,000 a year.
Home Depot doesn’t just offer tuition assistance to people within the company. Employees’ immediate family members are eligible for $2,500 a year.
Employees of Taco Bell corporate stores and some participating franchises can receive up to $5,250 a year. The company pays the costs up front so employees don’t have any costs of their own that are later reimbursed.
KFC Employees can receive up to $3,000 to help them attend a two-year or four-year college, trade or vocational school, or graduate degree programs. All employees at participating KFC restaurants are eligible to apply.
Intel Employees get 100 percent tuition reimbursement for courses at the technology company’s in-house Intel University, which offers more than 7,000 courses. They can enhance employees’ education and allow them to move up and earn more within the company or elsewhere.
Employees may also qualify for financial assistance for work-related courses outside of Intel as well.
Pilot and Flying J
The chain of gas stations and truck stops will spend a lifetime maximum of $18,000 on tuition for both full-time and part-time employees.
The banking giant covers education costs up to $5,000 a year. They also offer annual scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 to children of employees.
Bank of America
Not surprising, this other banking giant wants to one-up the competition. Bank of America’s Tuition Assistance Program will pay up to $7,500 a year for employees’ tuition. It’s not clear if this benefit has a lifetime cap or is available to part-time employees.
Tuition Assistance for College Employees’ Families
Full time employees at more than 600 private colleges and universities across the country (and a few international locations) can get tuition and fees covered for themselves, their spouses and children at any institution within the reciprocal Tuition Exchange network. This goes for undergraduate and graduate degrees.
It’s not an ironclad certainty you or your family will get the first choice of schools on your list, but you most likely will get full tuition for at least one or probably more schools in the network. And we’re talking free tuition every year at schools that cost up to $50,000 to $70,000 a year. Students should still apply for federal financial aid, though.
Here’s a list of all the colleges and universities in the network. Go to each college’s site to see if they are hiring.
This benefit applies to all who work in the school, from faculty to janitors, housekeepers and groundskeepers.
Some colleges in the program: Pepperdine University, Eckerd College, Bard College, University of San Diego, Syracuse University, Gonzaga University, Tulane University, George Washington University, and Franklin University in Switzerland.
Tuition Assistance Sounds Great! Is There a Catch?
Jobs that actually cover the costs of college tuition… finally! Just recognize the strings that are attached.
For Sandy Baum, a college affordability expert and a fellow at the Urban Institute, it’s hard to be critical of the idea of free college. But she says to pay careful attention to the fine print of these tuition reimbursement programs and other types of financial aid.
“Some of them pay upfront, some of them reimburse you — that’s a big difference. Some of them say you have to go to the same institutions, some of them have more options,” Baum said. “There are lots of different possibilities, so compare the different characteristics.”
If an assistance program reimburses employees, they have to have the money up front, which can be a challenge for many.
Baum said a lot of these programs are great in theory, but prospective students should keep in mind their own individual needs in the process.
Learning online is difficult for students without strong academic backgrounds. Where possible, take advantage of on-campus classes and resources to stay motivated.
Employees of Walmart and Disney can consult education-benefits advisers through Guild Education, the company that manages both Disney Aspire and Live Better U. These advisers can help manage work-school-life balance and help employees navigate the nuances of choosing and enrolling at a university and the different types of degree programs.
Regardless of the program, working students should take advantage of academic coaching directly from the university to discuss their unique academic needs once accepted.
Having your employer essentially choose your college or degree might not be the best way for everybody to approach higher education, Baum noted.
“It really depends on who you are, what things you want to learn and how the program is designed, [to know] whether or not a program is going to work out for you.”
Adam Hardy and Katherine Snow Smith are former staff writers at The Penny Hoarder.