Story at a glance

  • Walmart will waive fees associated with its Live Better U initiative and pay for its employees’ education.
  • The company also added four partnering academic institutions.
  • This comes as total student debt in the U.S. totals about $1.7 trillion.

On Tuesday, Walmart announced that the company would pay for its associates’ college tuition and book expenses as part of its new education initiative.

With its program Live Better U (LBU), the superstore will waive its usual $1 dollar per day fee associates usually contribute to participate in the program.

As the largest employer in the U.S., this means 1.5 million part- and full- time associates of both Walmart and Sam’s Club will be able to earn college degrees or other educational certificates without taking out student loans.

“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,” said Lorraine Stomski, the senior vice president of learning and leadership at Walmart. “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.”

This represents a nearly $1 billion investment on the company’s part in its employees’ education, as well as a larger student debt crisis. Recent statistics revealed that the total outstanding U.S. student loan debt stood at $1.7 trillion.

Walmart’s LBU program was expanded to be offered to all of its employees in June 2020. This most recent update also adds four academic institutions as partners. Schools like Johnson & Wales University, the University of Arizona, the University of Denver and Pathstream will become new academic options for Walmart company associates. 

“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,” Stomski added. 

President Biden has come under increased pressure to cancel more student loan debt, an issue he campaigned on. 

Published on Jul 27, 2021