She’s Earning a Degree and a Paycheck, without Lifelong Debt. Here’s How.

Tracy Hutchens works on her homework

March 29, 2019
By Matt Smith, Walmart Corporate Affairs

Many Americans face a dilemma: earn a living or get a college degree. The choice isn’t always clear.

Tracy Hutchens knew she wanted to earn a college degree. But, when she was offered a promotion to a management position while working at a Walmart distribution center in Tomah, Wisconsin, it was hard to pass up. Confronted with the chance for a career versus a degree at a traditional university accompanied with long-term student debt, Tracy chose the sure thing – the job.

“Students face it all the time – feeling overwhelmed by the student debt,” Tracy said. “If you want to be competitive in the workplace, then you have to get this degree. But then you get the burden of having all this debt.”

As an area manager at the distribution center, Tracy oversees shipping and receiving for dry goods. She likes her job and doesn’t want to sacrifice her career.

She knew that finishing her degree would mean a step toward a better future, but she put the thought on hold. Or at least she did until she received an email explaining the opportunity for Walmart associates to earn a college degree for just $1 a day with Live Better U in partnership with Guild Education.

“There’s got to be a catch,” Tracy remembers thinking. “I was skeptical of trying, but I thought I’d just go with it and see what happens.”

Tracy faced her skepticism head-on and enrolled at Bellevue University pursuing a bachelor of science in supply chain, transportation and logistics management.

“I thought, ‘This is too good to be true. There’s no way it’s a dollar per day!’ I paid for books – but I got reimbursed for them. It’s amazing that anyone would offer this to someone. Every part of it is true,” she said.

Living in Wisconsin can present additional challenges to students commuting to college campuses for classes. “The nearest colleges are at least a half an hour away. It snows in Wisconsin, and sometimes, going out at all is difficult,” she explained.

“Going to school online makes it very easy to balance everything, including my home and social life.”

In fact, Live Better U offers additional resources to make sure students get everything they need. She has her own student success advisor who helps her at every step.

“I thought there’d be a hotline number that I’d have to call every time – but she emails me, I text her, we even exchanged pictures of our cats. I never feel like I’m out there by myself not knowing what’s going on,” she said.

Now, Tracy is wrapping up her second term, and she’s already applying what she’s learning in school to her current role. While she hopes to continue growing her career with Walmart, she knows that once she gets her degree, the possibilities will be endless – not the student debt.

“This company has changed my life in such a tremendous way, and I hope I can make them proud with the work I do with them. I never thought that stuff like this would work out so perfectly for me,” she said.

And, she has a message to any Walmart associate who thinks a college degree at $1 a day is too good to be true.

“Do it. It’s real,” she said. “It will bring so much to your life. It’s worth it.”