Target is taking a big step to help workers get a college degree debt-free or make payments toward graduate programs. The retailer announced Wednesday that beginning this fall, it will cover the cost of tuition, fees and textbooks for part- and full-time workers pursuing a qualifying degree at more than 40 educational institutions, also funding advanced degrees at those schools up to $10,000 a year.
Employees in Target stores, distribution centers and headquarters in the U.S. qualify for the initiative on their first day, and the full cost will be paid for more than 250 programs aligned with its business, including computer science, information technology and business management. Employees who choose a different route can get up to $5,250 a year paid toward their schooling and graduate students can get up to $10,000 toward their master's degree.
This is the beginning of Target's four-year plan to invest $200 million in its educational program, which was developed with Guild Education, a company that manages corporate education assistance programs. Participating schools in the program include the University of Arizona, Oregon State University, University of Denver and Morehouse College.
"Target employs team members at every life stage and helps our team learn, develop and build their skills, whether they're with us for a year or a career," said Melissa Kremer, chief human resources officer at Target in a statement. "A significant number of our hourly team members build their careers at Target, and we know many would like to pursue additional education opportunities. We don't want the cost to be a barrier for anyone, and that's where Target can step in to make education accessible for everyone." Calling Target's employees the "heart" of its success, Kremer continued that this effort would be the latest by the retailer to help them "thrive and have rewarding careers at Target."
Target is the latest major retailer to offer programs that help employees pay for college, joining mega-corporations like Chipotle and Starbucks in the educational pursuit. Just last month, Walmart announced it would cover the full cost of college tuition and books for its employees, after previously requiring them to pay $1 a day. With the new plan, Walmart plans to invest almost $1 billion over the next five years in career training and development for its employees.