The standard practice used to be to go to college, get a degree, and only then go out and find a job. But these days, it pays to consider going for the job first. Not only is college often prohibitively expensive, but the years you spend in school mean years spent out of the workforce earning experience and income.
But you don’t have to give up your educational aspirations if you opt for the job. You can have your cake and eat it too. If you work for a company with tuition reimbursement, you can get your education expenses partly or entirely covered while earning an income.
Case in point: I have a friend who worked through school while getting her bachelor’s degree, allowing her full-time job to earn her a full-time income and pay for her schooling. Now she’s debt free and way ahead of me financially, even though I have more advanced education. Thus, there are a lot of pros to letting your company pay for your degree.
Companies With the Best Tuition Reimbursement Programs
Many companies offer tuition assistance, whether you want to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree or go back to school to earn a master’s degree or Ph.D.
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Companies offer tuition assistance as part of their benefits packages. Typically, assistance is tuition reimbursement, where an employee pays upfront for their courses. Then, when they’ve finished the class or semester, the employer reimburses them for all or part of their tuition expenses.
Not all programs work this way, however. For example, some companies pay for courses upfront, and some even cover the total cost of tuition, so employees have no out-of-pocket expenses. But these programs often require students to attend specific in-network schools.
Further, some companies have eligibility requirements like limiting reimbursement to certain degrees and education levels or requiring you to pay back the assistance if you don’t maintain a certain GPA or if you leave the job. So always check the details of your current or prospective employer’s program.
If tuition assistance sounds good to you, read on for some of the top programs. But bear in mind this list isn’t exhaustive. Before you switch employers, check with your own HR department to see if they offer tuition reimbursement.
The mega-giant retailer covers up to 100% of college tuition upfront at network schools with no lifetime max for all employees who’ve been with the company for at least 90 days. It also covers fees and textbooks and even high school GED completion, in-house technical training, and certifications. Amazon’s Career Choice program distributes the funds annually as long as you remain employed with the company.
Since there’s an Apple University, it’s no surprise the company also offers some coverage for eligible education at accredited colleges and universities. However, the one caveat is coursework must relate to advancing your career at Apple. Although their benefits page doesn’t specify how much Apple covers, employees on Glassdoor report Apple offers up to $5,250 in tuition assistance per year.
AT&T partners with several public and private universities to offer fully-covered tuition for specific degrees, including an undergraduate degree in cybersecurity and graduate degrees in information technology, data science, and business administration. Outside of that, full- and part-time employees who’ve been at AT&T for at least six months qualify to receive up to $8,000 in tuition assistance per year, according to employees on Glassdoor.
4. Bank of America
Employees who’ve been at Bank of America for at least six months are eligible for up to $7,500 per year in upfront assistance or reimbursements for job-related programs.
5. Best Buy
Full-time employees who work at least 32 hours per week and have been at Best Buy for at least six months qualify for its tuition assistance program. The company covers tuition, books, and fees up to $3,500 annually for job-related undergraduate degrees and $5,250 annually for graduate degrees.
Boeing supports its employees’ continued development through its Learning Together program. The program pays upfront 100% of the cost of tuition for STEM programs at over 300 partner colleges and universities. It also covers tuition and eligible expenses for select certificate programs, including pilot’s licenses. And it pays up $25,000 upfront per year toward graduate degrees, including master’s degrees and doctorates.
7. Capital One
Capital One’s tuition assistance program reimburses up to $5,250 per year of education expenses for both part-time and full-time employees. The reimbursement benefit applies to individual courses or undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Chipotle employees can receive tuition assistance for all types of education coursework, including finishing their high school diploma and getting an associate’s, bachelor’s, or graduate degree. They can also receive reimbursement for certificate programs and college prep courses. Chipotle covers 100% of the cost upfront for select programs and up to $5,250 per year upfront or reimbursed for all others.
Discover’s tuition assistance program covers 100% of employees’ tuition, books, and fees for job-related associate’s and bachelor’s degrees like business and technology at in-network schools. It also provides up to $5,250 per year for all undergraduate degrees and up to $10,000 per year for graduate degrees at in-network schools.
The most magical place on earth helps its employees get a debt-free associate’s, bachelor’s, or graduate degree in any major, so long as they attend one of the company’s 10-plus partner schools, including the University of Arizona, University of Denver, and University of Florida. Its tuition assistance program is available to full-time, part-time, or hourly employees at the company’s hotel properties or parks.
FedEx covers up to $5,250 per year in tuition costs for employees working toward trade, vocational, or technical certificates or undergraduate or graduate degrees. There’s no lifetime cap on their tuition assistance program, so you can use the benefit to continue working toward any level of education as long as you remain employed with the company. Plus, employees are eligible for a discount from Robert Morris University, where they can take online classes from anywhere.
Full-time employees who’ve been with the company for at least six months are eligible for Fidelity’s tuition reimbursement program. According to employees on Glassdoor, the company reimburses 90% of education costs up to a max of $10,000 per year. Coursework must be job-related and taken at an accredited college or university.
Google employees who’ve been with the company for at least 90 days can receive up to $5,250 per year in tuition assistance for earning degrees in job-related fields.
14. Home Depot
All Home Depot employees are eligible for some level of tuition assistance, up to 50% of the cost of tuition, books, and fees for approved courses at accredited colleges, universities, or technical schools. Full-time, salaried employees are eligible for up to $5,000 per year; full-time hourly employees are eligible for up to $3,000 per year; and part-time hourly employees are eligible for up to $1,500 per year for coursework toward earning an associate’s, bachelor’s, graduate, or technical degree.
Full-time and part-time Lowes employees have access to 100% coverage of tuition, books, and fees for select college degrees, certificate programs, high school completion, and college prep courses. Additionally, Lowes provides tuition assistance of up to $2,500 per year for other degrees and programs.
The fast food giant has its own branded Archways to Opportunity tuition assistance program available to all employees at both company-owned and independently franchised McDonald’s restaurants. Full-time employees who work a minimum of 30 hours per week are eligible for up to $3,000 per year in tuition assistance. Part-time employees can get up to $2,500 per year.
Additionally, McDonald’s partners with several schools that offer discounted tuition to eligible employees. And those who attend Colorado Technical University can get 100% of their education costs covered.
Microsoft offers tuition assistance as an employee benefit. Although its website doesn’t specify how much or who’s eligible, employees on Glassdoor report the tech company pays $5,000 per year in assistance for undergraduate degrees and up to $10,000 per year for grad degrees. But you must have worked for Microsoft for two years before the benefit kicks in.
18. Papa John’s
All Papa John’s employees who’ve been with the company for at least 90 days and work at least 20 hours per week can earn a fully-covered degree online with Purdue Global, including bachelor’s and graduate degrees. The company’s tuition assistance program covers all costs upfront, including books and fees, so employees have no out-of-pocket expenses.
Pepsi’s MyEducation tuition assistance program covers the full cost of employees’ education for over 100 selected programs, including undergraduate degrees, certificates, college prep courses, and even CDL training. Additionally, Pepsi reimburses up to $5,250 per year for approved undergraduate and certificate programs outside of its debt-free catalog and $8,000 per year for graduate courses.
20. Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble advertises a generous tuition reimbursement program for job-related coursework. Although the website doesn’t specify the size of P&G’s generosity, Monster.com reports the company offers employees 80% reimbursement of approved tuition and fees up to a lifetime cap of $40,000.
One of the first major companies to announce a full-tuition benefit for students, the coffee giant Starbucks fully covers tuition and fees for a first-time bachelor’s degree for all benefits-eligible full- and part-time employees. The one catch: Employees must earn an online degree from Arizona State University. Fortunately, the school offers a wide range of programs, from arts and design to STEM degrees.
Target is another mega-retailer that offers full tuition coverage. Through its Dream to Be program, full- and part-time team members have access to over 250 job-related programs, like business management and computer science, at over 40 network schools. Plus, Target employees can continue their education with a master’s degree, and Target will cover upfront costs up to an unspecified annual cap. Additionally, Target offers traditional tuition assistance for degrees and programs outside its Dream to Be catalog of courses.
T-Mobile covers the full cost of tuition, books, and fees for both undergraduate and graduate degrees for part- and full-time employees who’ve worked for the company for 90 days. However, employees must take classes at a partner school to get the benefit. For those interested in attending other schools, T-Mobile pays $5,250 for full-time employees and $2,500 annually for part-time employees.
UPS employees can receive $5,250 per year in tuition assistance, up to a lifetime maximum of $25,000. Employees are eligible for the benefit from their start date. In addition, other education assistance programs are available for employees who live and work in specified areas.
Through its partnership with Bellevue University, full-time Verizon employees are eligible for $13,250 per year in tuition assistance toward a job-related degree or certificate. Part-time employees can receive $8,000 per year. The program even extends a benefit of $2,500 per year to family members.
Through its Live Better U tuition assistance program, Walmart joins other mega-retailers in offering fully-covered tuition, fees, and books for select job-related degrees and certificates, like business administration and cybersecurity, through its partner schools.
27. Waste Management
Waste Management employees can earn a debt-free degree through the company’s Your Tomorrow program, which offers over 170 fully-funded programs for undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as business and technology certifications. Although tuition costs are fully covered upfront, Waste Management reimburses payments for books and fees. Employees’ spouses and dependents can also get their tuition 100% covered through Waste Management’s catalog of degree programs and schools.
28. Wells Fargo
The financial services company Wells Fargo offers a modest $5,000 of annual tuition reimbursement. But what makes its education benefits stand out is the opportunity for employees’ dependents to apply for annual scholarships of $1,000 to $3,000.
Tuition assistance programs are among companies’ top perks, along with employee benefits like health care and 401(k) plans. And it’s no wonder. They make financial sense for most companies because tuition assistance helps retain quality employees and maintain a skilled workforce.
Education assistance programs also help employees. You get to avoid student loan debt while getting the job-related coursework you need to advance in your career.
On the surface, it seems like a win-win. But there is one major drawback: The IRS requires you to pay income tax on any amount you receive over $5,250 as of 2022, which means your employer has to declare larger amounts as part of your income. As a result, many employers cap annual tuition assistance at this amount.
Even so, the benefit can take a huge bite out of your higher education costs. And tuition reimbursement benefits can supplement any other financial aid you receive.
If you’ve already earned your degree and have student loan debt to pay back, look into employer student loan repayment programs. Although not as common as tuition reimbursement, repayment programs can help relieve the burden of spending a sizable chunk of your hard-earned salary on student loan payments every month.