Walmart to Pay 100% of College Tuition for Associates

Nation’s largest private employer wants to nix the burden of education debt.

July 29, 2021

Walmart Store

BENTONVILLE, Ark.—Starting next month, Walmart will pay for 100% of college tuition and books for associates through its Live Better U (LBU) education program, an investment of $1 billion over the next five years, the company announced.

Beginning Aug. 16, approximately 1.5 million part-time and full-time Walmart and Sam’s Club associates in the U.S. can earn college degrees or learn trade skills without the burden of education debt. The LBU program was developed after reviewing other employers’ education programs, consulting with experts and studying the research around what helps drive completion rates among adult working learners.

“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, 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.”

The company will fund in-demand college degree and certificate options in business administration, supply chain and cybersecurity, offerings that join an existing catalog of programs designed to prepare associates for 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,” Stomski said.

In addition, Walmart will add four academic partners—Johnson & Wales University, the University of Arizona, the University of Denver and Pathstream—to its existing list of partners and were chosen for their history of success with adult and working learner programs and their focus on degree completion. The company already works with Brandman University, Penn Foster, Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, Wilmington University and Voxy EnGen.

Cost is the leading barrier to earning a degree, and Walmart is committed to eliminating that burden. More than 52,000 Walmart associates have participated in the LBU program since it began in 2018, 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 and co-founder, Guild Education. "Walmart is creating growth opportunities for their workforce and preparing them for the future of work.”

For retailers across all industries, both compensation and benefits, such as education investments, can lead to increased job applicants. NACS works with the nonprofit Good Jobs Institute to help convenience retailers assess how good jobs could help them reduce costs, increase revenue and improve labor productivity. The Good Jobs Strategy, which is a combination of investment in people and smart operating choices, increases employee productivity, motivation and contribution and promotes operational excellence. Access the tools The Good Jobs Calculator, The Good Jobs Scorecard and The Good Jobs Strategy Diagnostic and watch business leaders talk about the Good Jobs Strategy.