Walmart Will Cover 100% of College Tuition and Books for Associates

The world’s largest retailer is investing nearly $1 billion over the next five years on the development of its workforce, including covering 100% of college tuition and books for associates.

Walmart is removing its $1-a-day fee for associates in its education program, known as Live Better U. Roughly 1.5 million part-time and full-time Walmart and Sam’s Club associates can take part in the retailer’s college education program without paying for tuition or books. The changes begin Aug. 16.

Executive Summary

The change in benefits comes at a time when retailers are facing one of the biggest labor shortages to date. Many retailers are increasing wages, advertising signing bonuses and adding new or improved benefits to attract employees as stores continue to reopen after implementing COVID-19 lockdown measures.

“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,” said Lorraine Stomski, senior vice president of learning and leadership at Walmart. “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.”

Since 2018, more than 52,000 associates have participated in LBU to date, and more than 8,000 have already graduated.

Walmart began its LBU education program in 2018, offering associates help to pay for college and supplies for the cost of $1 per day. That $1 fee was based on consultations with experts and reviews of other employer-provided education programs, but Walmart now recognizes “the economy and job market have changed,” the company noted in an announcement. In June 2020, Walmart adjusted the benefits program to increase eligibility for employees on their first day instead of its original threshold of 90 days. Over time, the retailer has also continually added programs to LBU.

Exec summary

“We’re also excited to add in-demand college degree and certificate options in business administration, supply chain and cybersecurity,” Stomski said. “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.”

LBU has added four new academic partners, including Johnson & Wales University, the University of Arizona, the University of Denver and Pathstream. These complement the existing partners: Brandman University, Penn Foster, Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, Wilmington University and Voxy EnGen.

"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 and co-founder of Guild Education. "Walmart is creating growth opportunities for their workforce and preparing them for the future of work.”