Amazon AMZN +0.4% this week became the latest major national corporation to offer tuition-free college as an employee benefit. The company plans to cover 100% of tuition, as well as fees and the costs of books, for its 750,000 hourly employees. The benefits will be provided through Amazon’s Career Choice program.
“We know that investing in free skills training for our teams can have a huge impact for hundreds of thousands of families across the country,” said Dave Clark, CEO of Worldwide Consumer at Amazon. “We launched Career Choice almost 10 years ago to help remove the biggest barriers to continuing education—time and money—and we are now expanding it even further to pay full tuition and add several new fields of study.
”The benefits will cover both associate’s and bachelor’s degrees at “hundreds of education partners across the country” (although the company’s press release did not specify which schools would be eligible). The initiative will also fund high school diplomas, GEDs, and English as a Second Language (ESL) proficiency certifications for its front-line employees.
Amazon’s Tuition free initiative follows similar actions by other large national corporations in recent months. Earlier this year, Target TGT+1.2% announced that it would cover 100% of college tuition and books for employees to get undergraduate degrees at 40 participating institutions, as well as $10,000 per year towards graduate degree programs.
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And it’s not just major corporations that are expanding free college initiatives. This week, House Democrats unveiled a detailed spending proposal as part of the party’s efforts to dramatically expand social safety net programs. Among the many initiatives, Democrats are proposing universal free two-year community college, a major policy goal of President Biden. The proposal would cover 100% of community college tuition, but not other college-related expenses, such as housing and books.
Employer-covered and government-subsidized tuition at community colleges and traditional four-year colleges and universities could go a long way to reducing reliance on student loans to fund advanced degrees and training. But while these initiatives could help students defray the cost of future degrees, they do little to address the larger problem of $1.8 trillion in existing outstanding student loan debt held by over 40 million borrowers.
Lawmakers and the Biden administration continue to explore options for addressing outstanding student loan debt including bankruptcy reform, overhauling existing student loan forgiveness and repayment programs, and enacting widespread student loan cancellation.
Amazon will offer tuition free college to employees, joining efforts by companies and congress to reduce reliance on student soans was written by: Adam S. Minsky, Senior Contributor | Personal Finance . Adam S. Minsky is an advocate, innovator, and entrepreneur who established a unique law practice devoted entirely to assisting student loan borrowers and their families. Recognized as a national authority on student loan law and policy, Adam has forged substantial connections with consumer advocates, government agencies, elected officials, media groups, and nonprofit organizations to advocate for student loan borrowers. He is also an experienced public speaker, consultant, and writer on student loan-related topics.