Target to Offer Debt-Free College Program to Team Members

Target is debuting a new program that will provide significant education funding to its team members.
Target employee

The retailer is offering to cover the costs for four-year undergraduate degrees, two-year associate’s degrees, certificates, bootcamp programs, textbooks and course fees as part of a debt-free education assistance program. The benefit will be available to all of Target’s 340,000 team members.

Executive Summary

Target’s new initiative comes after Walmart recently announced it was expanding its college education program to cover 100% of tuition for certain programs as well as books. The bigger benefits from both mass retailers may help attract and retain employees during one of the biggest labor crunches to date and also up the ante for other retailers to boost benefits.

The benefits come at an investment cost of $200 million for Target, which also said it will cover up to $10,000 for graduate degrees. Partnering with Guild Education, an education assistance benefits management company, Target has decided to offer the benefits for education programs with 250 business-aligned programs from over 40 schools, colleges and universities.

“Target employs team members at every life stage and helps our team learn, develop and build their skills, whether they’re with us for a year or a career,” said Melissa Kremer, chief human resources officer of Target. “A significant number of our hourly team members build their careers at Target, and we know many would like to pursue additional education opportunities. We don’t want the cost to be a barrier for anyone, and that’s where Target can step in to make education accessible for everyone.”

The benefits are available to all U.S.-based part- and full-time team members. The retailer, which stated it offers “the most comprehensive debt-free education assistance program,” has filed the initiative under its Target Forward sustainability strategy. A number of well-known institutions are part of the program, including University of Arizona, Oregon State University and historically Black colleges and universities like Morehouse College and Paul Quinn College. The program only covers specific programs, such as business management, operations and supply chain, data analytics, design and technology and computer science.

“Target will provide direct payments to their academic institution to reduce the burden of up-front, costly tuition payments,” the retailer stated. “Target will also pay for textbooks and course fees that might otherwise hinder team member participation.”

exec summary

Target will fully cover costs, including tuition and textbooks, for 250 business-aligned programs. Direct payments for programs outside of Target’s aligned programs are capped at $5,250 for non-master’s degrees. The retailer will also pay up to $10,000 for master’s degrees. 

Expanding benefits is becoming more commonplace as retailers compete for labor. Target has given out several rounds of new benefits to its team members throughout the pandemic, while also increasing its starting wage to $15 per hour.

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