Walmart's Live Better U program will now pay 100% for associates' college tuition and books.
Walmart Inc. will pay 100% for associates' college tuition and books through the retailer’s Live Better U (LBU) education program. Starting Aug. 16, the $1-a-day fee will end, meaning that about 1.5 million part- and full-time Walmart and Sam’s Club associates in the United States can earn college degrees or learn trade skills without incurring education debt. Walmart, the largest U.S. private employer, will invest almost $1 billion over the next five years in career-driven training and development.
“We are creating a path of opportunity for our associates to grow their careers at Walmart, so they can continue to build better lives for themselves and their families,” noted Lorraine Stomski, Walmart’s SVP of learning and leadership. “This investment is another way we can support our associates to pursue their passion and purpose while removing the barriers that too often keep adult working learners from obtaining degrees.”
LBU was created after consulting with experts, reviewing other employer-provided education programs and studying the research into what helps raise completion rates among adult working learners. These findings helped guide the original $1-a-day approach, but Walmart has decided to drop the fee in response to a changed economy and job market.
“We’re also excited to add in-demand college degree and certificate options in business administration, supply chain and cybersecurity,” said Stomski. “These additional offerings join a robust catalog of programs to set associates up for new career opportunities. Our education offerings tie directly to our growth areas at Walmart, and what better way to fill the pipeline of future talent than with our own associates?”
Further, the company will add four academic partners — Johnson & Wales University, the University of Arizona, the University of Denver, and Pathstream — to complement its existing partners: Brandman University, Penn Foster, Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, Wilmington University and Voxy EnGen. Each of these schools were selected for their track record of success with adult and working-learner programs, along with their emphasis on degree completion.
Since LBU launched in 2018, more than 52,000 associates have taken part in the program to date, and 8,000 have graduated. This summer, nearly 28,000 associates have been active in a LBU program.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates more than 10,500 stores under 48 banners in 24 countries, and e-commerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while Walmart-owned Sam’s Club ranks No. 9 on the list.