25 Employers That Pay for College so You Can Avoid Student Loans
- Jobs That Pay Your College Tuition for a 4-Year Degree
- Tyson Foods
- JBS Foods
- Walmart and Sam’s Club
- Papa Johns
- Taco Bell
- Jobs That Offer Limited Tuition Reimbursement or Assistance
- Home Depot
- Pilot and Flying J
- Wells Fargo
- Bank of America
- Tuition Assistance for College Employees’ Families
- Tuition Assistance Sounds Great! Is There a Catch?
A competitive labor market — and high student loan debt — means employers are in wooing mode. Expect to see more companies offering better perks and benefits as competition remains high for workers to fill vacant jobs.
One of the most valuable of those perks: full or partial college tuition paid by your employer.
We found a few companies that pay for a full ride in higher education. More common are assistance programs that reimburse or cover a capped annual amount toward a degree at a community college, technical school or four-year college. Many companies partner with certain schools — some brick and mortar, some online — so you can’t necessarily get your degree anywhere you choose.
Here are 25 companies with jobs that pay for college and some particulars on each program.
Jobs That Pay Your College Tuition for a 4-Year Degree
These programs will help you earn a degree (some even cover other college costs), but there are rules and qualifications to meet.
Amazon’s Career Choice program offers full tuition support for associates who want to start or continue their education, whether it’s a high school diploma, GED, bachelor’s degree or English as a second language (ESL) proficiency certifications.
Career Choice also provides funding for employees studying aircraft mechanics, welding, medical billing, nursing and other fields. Associates are eligible after 90 days of employment.
WM raised the stakes when it decided to pay upfront for employees and their dependents (children and spouses) to earn a college degree in select programs.
For its 46,000 full-time employees in the U.S., WM supports access to dozens of programs, including a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree, short-form technology and business certificate programs, and high school completion. Books and fees are even reimbursable for team members.
In 2022, it expanded the program and offered to pay for college for about 34,000 children (ages 18-26) and spouses who can start enrolling in education programs.
The red-shirted retailer partners with Guild to pay for college and is one of the most recent employers adding college tuition to its benefits package for all U.S. employees.
Full- and part-time team members can now get tuition covered upfront for more than 250 programs for certain undergraduate degrees and certifications at 40 schools online and in-person.
Target will also pay up to $10,000 a year for master’s programs within the network of schools.
4. Tyson Foods
In 2022, Tyson Foods expanded its Upward Academy to provide access to more than 175 programs from over 35 of the nation’s top universities and learning providers — tuition-free. Employees can earn undergraduate and graduate degrees, certificates, complete high school and take college prep or English language classes.
The $60 million investment provides full tuition for select programs, books and fees for all team members, paid upfront by Tyson. There’s support for other programs, too, including $5,250 a year for undergrad work and up to $10,000 for a master’s degree.
Most part-time and all regular full-time Chipotle workers have access to tuition-free college degrees and a tuition reimbursement program.
To qualify for college benefits, you’ll need to work at Chipotle for 15 hours per week for 120 days, according to Chipotle’s education benefits portal.
College benefits include tuition-free associate or bachelor’s degrees in majors such as agricultural science, hospitality and supply chain. The company partners with Guild to offer programs with tuition paid upfront from the University of Arizona, Southern New Hampshire University and Purdue Global, all of which have online degree program options.
If you want to study outside of the colleges it partners with, Chipotle also offers tuition reimbursement benefits of up to $5,250 per year.
The Disney Aspire program covers 100% of the tuition costs upfront for full-time and part-time hourly U.S. workers who want a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree from one of Disney’s partner universities.
These universities include the University of Central Florida, Cal State Fullerton and North Carolina A&T State University.
All of Disney’s hourly workers are eligible for the Aspire program after their first 90 days of employment. Disney also covers the cost of textbooks and high school diploma programs.
Disney pays the schools directly, so this may be more of a perk than tuition reimbursement programs. Employees don’t have to have to come up with the money on their own and wait to get reimbursed.
How about some financial aid to go with that caramel macchiato?
Starbucks has been ahead of the pack, offering its U.S. employees access to Arizona State University’s online bachelor’s degrees through its education assistance program.
The landmark Starbucks College Achievement Plan (SCAP) launched in 2015 and is available to full- and part-time employees across the country.
According to the fine print, employees are considered eligible after “the first day of the second month after receiving a minimum of 240 total hours over three full, consecutive months.”
Arizona State University offers more than 100 different degrees online, and Starbucks will cover 100% of the tuition costs after scholarships and financial aid kick in. ASU first gives SCAP students a 42% scholarship, then the students get additional aid by filling out the FAFSA as part of the program. Starbucks covers the remaining tuition costs.
Extra perk for military service: Starbucks employees who are veterans can have one family member use the SCAP program to earn a college degree.
Intel employees can get a $50,000 tuition reimbursement per degree program, with no annual limit. They also have access to tuition reimbursement for courses at the technology company’s in-house Intel University, which offers more than 7,000 courses. The courses can enhance employees’ education and allow them to move up and earn more within the company or elsewhere.
Boeing’s education assistance program reimburses 100% of tuition on eligible science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses for a college degree or certificate program.
Boeing also pays up to $25,000 per year for graduate studies in many fields — and there’s no annual limit on STEM degrees and certificates at its partner schools.
10. JBS Foods
JBS Foods’ Better Futures program provides team members and their children the opportunity to pursue associate degrees and trade certificates at community and technical colleges tuition-free.
Full-time team members who have been employed at JBS for at least six months, are in good standing and make less than $130,000 per year are eligible, as well as dependents under the age of 26.
11. Walmart and Sam’s Club
Walmart is the largest employer in the country, with an estimated 2.3 million U.S. workers. Through its Live Better U program, full- and part-time hourly associates are eligible for specific degrees at partner universities.
Under the program, Walmart offers tuition coverage upfront for the cost of higher education. For many years the retailer required that employees pay $1 a day for their education, but Walmart now pays the full tuition.
Degrees are offered through Purdue University Global, UMass Global and Bellevue University, among others. These schools were selected for their focus on serving working adult learners.
Employees who live near a partner university may attend in-person, but the vast majority choose to attend online, a Walmart spokesperson said.
And this isn’t only for a bachelor’s degree. Additional perks through Live Better U include discounted master’s degrees and free foreign language classes. Eligible employees can also pass on these benefits to family members.
12. Papa Johns
Papa Johns’ Dough & Degrees is one of the tuition reimbursement programs that helps part-time employees, too. The pizza chain’s assistance program reimburses 100% of tuition for any employees at corporate-owned and some franchise stores working 20 or more hours a week for at least 90 days.
They can pursue 180 different online degrees — associate, bachelor’s and master’s — from Purdue University or the University of Maryland. High school completion, English as a second language and continuing professional education is covered too.
If you’ve already graduated with a mountain of student loan debt, these employers will help you pay it off.
The company that offers the Discover Card also helps pay for college. Discover offers employees 100% tuition assistance upfront for select associate and bachelor’s degrees, including universities such as the University of Arizona, Wilmington University and Ohio University. Outside of those select degrees, they also offer up to $5,250 for bachelor’s degree programs and $10,000 per year for master’s degrees at in-network schools.
14. Taco Bell
Employees at corporate-owned locations have access to 100% paid tuition upfront for select degrees, high school diplomas and college prep courses. The restaurant chain also offers up to $5,250 in tuition per year for other programs. Taco Bell pays the costs upfront so employees don’t have any costs of their own that are later reimbursed.
Full-time employees are eligible for $5,250 and part-timers for $2,500 to pay for courses at schools of their choice. Employees can also get full tuition covered each year at five schools that have partnered with T-Mobile to cap the costs of online degree programs. These schools are Ashford University, Capella University, Colorado Technical University, Kaplan and the University of Phoenix.
Verizon offers full-time employees $13,250 a year in financial aid to earn a degree or certificate at Bellevue University, which has a strong online program. Part-time employees can get up to $8,000 a year in tuition cost. Employees’ immediate family members may qualify for up to $2,500 a year of tuition reimbursement.
Lowe’s got into the tuition assistance game in 2022, announcing that more than 300,000 associates could pursue a debt-free education.
Through Guild, Lowe’s offers access to around 50 undergraduate programs at 23 universities and continues to pay up to $2,500 for 165 additional programs. Lowe’s education benefits also include the tuition-free Track to the Trades program that supports trade skill certifications.
Jobs That Offer Limited Tuition Reimbursement or Assistance
Numerous employers offer $2,500 to $6,000 a year in tuition assistance programs. That could be enough to pay for courses at a four-year college if you don’t live on campus or cover the cost of classes online.
Many students are finding that less-expensive two-year degree programs or certifications can offer a solid paycheck and more employment opportunities than many four-year college degrees. Community colleges and technical schools specialize in fast-track programs for high-demand fields.
Even limited tuition aid or tuition reimbursement from an employer could cover all or most of the costs of certifications and two-year degrees that will help you move up the career ladder and make more money. And it sure beats taking on a student loan.
BP will pay for 90% of employees’ educational and vocational courses through its Educational Assistance Program. It also pays 90% of books and other fees. Employees must have courses approved before registering.
19. Home Depot
The home improvement retailer offers three levels of tuition reimbursement. Full-time employees are eligible for $6,000 a year, while part-time employees can receive $3,000 a year.
Home Depot doesn’t just offer tuition assistance to people within the company. Employees’ immediate family members are eligible for $2,500 a year.
KFC employees can receive a scholarship to help them attend a two-year or four-year college, trade or vocational school, or enroll in graduate degree programs. Eligible workers can apply for one of 11 available $20,000 scholarships. There are also hundreds of $5,000 and $2,500 scholarships available. Recipients will also benefit from a mentorship program based on the degree they choose.
The Earn & Learn tuition assistance program — available at more than 100 UPS locations — offers up to $5,250 per year with a lifetime maximum of $25,000. The program allows you to choose any course or degree program you like with no restrictions, and UPS employees are eligible on their hire date. More than 140,000 UPS employees have taken advantage of Earn & Learn since 1999.
The pharmaceutical retail giant offers tuition reimbursement through its educational partners Capella University, Strayer University and Colorado Technical University. CVS will pay up to $3,000 annually for degree programs and $1,500 for non-degree programs. The company also offers a free Career Online High School for employees who want to further their education.
23. Pilot and Flying J
The chain of gas stations and truck stops will spend a lifetime maximum of $18,000 on tuition for full-time and part-time employees.
24. Wells Fargo
The banking giant covers education costs up to $5,000 a year. Wells Fargo also offers annual scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 to children of employees.
25. Bank of America
Not surprising, this other banking giant wants to one-up the competition. Bank of America’s Tuition Assistance Program will pay up to $7,500 a year for employees’ tuition. It’s not clear if this benefit has a lifetime cap or is available to part-time employees.
Tuition Assistance for College Employees’ Families
Full-time employees at more than 600 private colleges and universities across the country (and a few international locations) can get tuition and fees covered for themselves, their spouses and children at any institution within the reciprocal Tuition Exchange network. This goes for undergraduate and graduate programs.
It’s not an ironclad certainty you or your family will get the first choice of schools on your list, but you most likely will get full tuition for at least one or probably more schools in the network. And we’re talking free tuition every year at schools that cost up to $50,000 to $70,000 a year. Students should still apply for federal financial aid, though.
Here’s a list of all the colleges and universities in the network. Go to each college’s site to see if they are hiring.
This benefit applies to all who work in the school, from faculty to janitors, housekeepers and groundskeepers.
Some colleges in the program include: Pepperdine University, Eckerd College, Bard College, the University of San Diego, Syracuse University, Gonzaga University, Tulane University, George Washington University and Franklin University in Switzerland.
Tuition Assistance Sounds Great! Is There a Catch?
For Sandy Baum, a college affordability expert and a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, it’s hard to be critical of jobs that pay for college. But she says to pay careful attention to the fine print of these tuition reimbursement programs and other types of financial aid that companies pay.
“Some of them pay upfront, some of them reimburse you — that’s a big difference. Some of them say you have to go to the same institutions, some of them have more options,” Baum said. “There are lots of different possibilities, so compare the different characteristics.”
If a tuition assistance program reimburses employees, they have to have the money upfront, which can be a challenge for many.
Baum said a lot of these programs are great in theory, but prospective students should keep in mind their own individual needs in the process.
Learning online can be difficult for students without strong academic backgrounds. Where possible, take advantage of on-campus classes and resources to stay motivated.
Employees who access their benefits through Guild — which partners with several major companies, such as Walmart and Disney — can consult advisers for one-on-one learning and career coaching support. These advisers can help manage balancing work and school and help employees navigate the nuances of choosing and enrolling at a university, the different types of degree programs and career opportunities available to them.
Regardless of the program, working students should take advantage of academic coaching directly from the university to discuss their unique academic needs once accepted.
Having your employer essentially choose your college or degree might not be the best way for everybody to approach higher education, Baum noted.
“It really depends on who you are, what things you want to learn and how the program is designed (to know) whether or not a program is going to work out for you.”
Robert Bruce is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Adam Hardy and Katherine Snow Smith contributed.