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Why We’re Offering Associates a Path to Debt-Free College

By Beth Harris
May 30, 2018
Walmart Academy Graduates during graduation ceremony

Carl Beckman, a store planning project manager in Michigan, is going back to college. What’s different this time around? He has the support of a new program backed by Walmart that will make it easier for him to work full time and be successful in school.

Editor’s Note: Walmart associates can learn more by visiting Guild Education or the Education and Careers on WalmartOne.

“I’d tried to go back about a year ago, but the program I was following just wasn’t easy for someone working full time,” Carl said. “With this new program, the beginning process was pretty straightforward. My advisor has helped me every step of the way, so I knew what I needed to do and how to do it. I felt very supported.”

The program is a partnership between Walmart and Guild Education that prepares associates to advance in the jobs of today – and the future. These new benefits include college credit for Walmart Academy training and options for associates to earn a college degree without incurring student loan debt.

Here are the top five ways this program makes the grade:

A high-quality education for less than a cup of coffee
Just a $1 a day. That’s all associates have to contribute to earning a college degree. After that, Walmart takes care of tuition, books and fees. That also means there’s no need for a student loan – wiping out the thousands of dollars of debt associated with other degree options. What’s even better: Associates can earn college credit for paid training at Walmart Academies, saving them substantial time and money.

Relevant skills for today and beyond
Walmart collaborated with University of Florida, Brandman University and Bellevue University – all chosen for their focus on serving working adult learners – to tailor the curriculum to relevant skills for jobs and advancement across retail and other industries.

Choices and access
Working with three universities gives associates more options and greater access to a degree. The goal is for all associates who apply for admission to be accepted to one of these schools. In addition, the universities are dedicated to high graduation rates for their students.

“I love that Guild gives you options,” Carrie Smith, a department manager in Indiana, said. “I was able to choose a school and a degree that matched my goals.”

Supported from day one
Associates have access to Guild education coaches who are available to help with everything from selecting the right degree and getting credit for prior college and work experience to academic counseling.

“My advisor contacted me pretty quickly after I applied,” Carrie said. “From day one, they’ve helped me through the process and answered all my questions. She’s even a great person to vent to when things get a little tough.”

Expanded education and skill-gaining opportunities
The benefits go beyond college degrees. Whether associates are just starting out or working toward executive level, Walmart will offer job-related skills training to aid in career advancement. High school diplomas and GEDs are covered for associates and eligible family members. This new program opens access to tuition discounts, financial aid assistance and education coaching across a network of more than 80 accredited, nonprofit university partners. Associates will also have access to professional development courses including college prep, leadership training and English as a second language.

“I really wanted to stay at Walmart, but make the move into IT,” said Randy Gast, a courtesy desk associate in Michigan. “Now, I’m working toward a master’s degree in information systems. I was surprised, but very pleased, that there was a discount for a master’s.”