Walmart to pay college tuition bills for employees

Retail giant Walmart wants to help its employees get a college education.

The company, which employs 1.5 million people in the U.S., announced on Wednesday during its annual shareholder meeting that it is launching a program that will subsidize the costs of higher education for employees at its Walmart and Sam’s Club stores.

Interested employees would be required to contribute just $1 per day toward tuition, according to the retailer, which will foot the bill for tuition, books and other fees.

Part-time, full-time and salaried employees who have yet to receive a college degree can enroll at the University of Florida, Brandman University in California or Bellevue University in Nebraska. Walmart said it chose these nonprofit schools because of their specialized focus on serving “working adult learners.”

Courses can be taken on site or online. The students can earn degrees in business and supply chain management.

Walmart estimated that as many as 68,000 individuals may sign up for the program, which will be run in conjunction with education benefits provider Guild Education.

Walmart has been steadily increasing employee benefits in order to retain workers. Earlier this year, it increased the hourly minimum wage to $11 per hour and expanded its parental leave benefits.

Starbucks already has a similar college tuition program, launched three years ago.