Amazon to Pay Full College Tuition for U.S.-Based Hourly Employees

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  • Amazon announced it would pay full tuition for hourly workers, starting Jan. 2022.
  • More than 750,000 operations employees across 37 states will be eligible for the program.
  • The Amazon program will pay tuition up front, with no reimbursement required.
  • The company will also pay for hourly employees' GED degrees and ESL programs.

Living up to its reputation of providing everything for everybody, Amazon announced on Sept. 9 that it will pay the full college tuition for its front-line hourly operations workers in the United States beginning in January.

The announcement comes after other giant retailers, like Walmart and Target, launched similar tuition-assistance programs earlier this year.

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The new program also appears to be a response to a challenge from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos who said in a letter to company shareholders in April that the company needs "to do a better job for our employees."

"It's clear to me that we need a better vision for how we create value for employees – a vision for their success," Bezos continued in his letter.

The company said in a statement posted to its website that more than 750,000 operations employees at its warehouses in 37 states are eligible for the tuition program. Amazon didn't reveal the full criteria required to enroll in the new program, but it said front-line hourly staff are eligible if they've been with Amazon for 90 days.

"Through its popular Career Choice program, the company will fund full college tuition, as well as high school diplomas, GEDs [graduate equivalency degrees], and English as a Second Language proficiency certifications for its front-line employees," the company said in the statement.

In addition to the tuition program, Amazon is adding three new education programs that will focus on data center maintenance and technology, IT, and user experience and research design.The company said it expects to invest $1.2 billion in education and skills-training benefits by 2025.

Significantly, workers won't have to wait until they've finished a semester to recover the cost for continuing their education. Amazon said it would pay tuition and other fees in advance "ensuring employees don’t need existing funds to start accessing the education options they want." Also, employees will be able to tap annual funds for their education for as long as they stick with the company and with no limit on the number of years they can benefit.

The Amazon program appears to be more progressive than those offered at other U.S. corporations. EStudentLoan has published a list of 36 companies that help employees pay for college.


Feature Image: Bloomberg / Contributor / Getty Images

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