It’s no secret that college tuition is expensive. And it’s no secret that student loan debt is an issue because of this. In fact, nearly seven in 10 seniors who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2015 had student loan debt, with an average of $30,100 per borrower, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.
But there are surefire ways to lessen student debt load, while gaining valuable job skills and experience at the same time.
By finding a part-time job that offers tuition reimbursement or tuition assistance. As defined by Salary.com, “tuition reimbursement is a contractual arrangement between employer and employee that outlines specific terms under which the employer may pay for the employee’s continuing education.”
Numerous employers offer tuition reimbursement programs for part-time employees.
We list ten of these employers below. This is an attractive recruiting and retention tool for employers – they help support employee education goals, pay for part of it, and get a educated employee in the process. The employee/college student gets help paying for the cost of college, and is loyal to the company because they invested in their future. It can be a win-win for both.
But forward-thinking college students should take it a step further. The right part-time job could provide not only tuition reimbursement opportunities, reducing the costs of college, but also a chance to secure an internship with that company, or perhaps, participate in a training program, or learn additional skills beyond what is required in the part-time job. In other words: Take advantage of both the opportunity to earn tuition reimbursement, but also seek ways to learn and add a combination of soft skills, and real-life work experiences that employers will covet, while working this part-time job. Take on new challenges and opportunities. Learn about operations, management, marketing, distribution, merchandising, sales, e-commerce, technology, how the company uses data and analytics, and much more.
“Students should seek a variety of experiences during their college career-including part-time jobs and internships,” said Mike Caldwell, Director, Business Careers and Employer Development at the Cohen Career Center at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. “These opportunities help build skills, networking contacts, and professional experience. Part-time jobs that offer additional benefits, such as tuition assistance, also offer an opportunity for employers to identify and develop prospective talent while helping employee’s complete academic requirements along the way.”
Ask yourself: What else does this company do that I could learn about, that would add additional skill sets needed for me to succeed in securing an internship or full time job after graduation?
Below are 10 companies that offer tuition reimbursement or tuition assistance for part-time employees:
1. Amazon: The fast-growing e-commerce company has one of the most in-depth tuition reimbursement programs in the country. And now all active, regular part-time hourly field associates (20-29 hours per week) who have been employed for one continuous year at Amazon sort centers, fulfillment centers, fresh, pantry, and prime are now are eligible.
2. AT&T: The telecommunications company offers a wide variety of talent development programs including tuition reimbursement for part-time (and full-time) employees.
3. Chipotle: The popular restaurant offers tuition assistance, discounted classes, and credit hours for on-the-job training for full and part-time employees. Learn more about Chipotle’s Educational Assistance Program.
Related: Why employers covet soft skills developed working in the restaurant and retail industry
4. FedEx Ground: The courier and delivery services company offers a variety of tuition reimbursement options for part-time employees. Part-time non-package handlers at FedEx can earn to $1,500 per calendar year, while part-time operations managers can earn up to $2,500 per year.
5. The Home Depot: Home Depot offers up to $1,500 per year in tuition reimbursement for part-time employees after 90 days of employment. Learn more about the Home Depot Tuition Reimbursement program.
6. National Guard: The National Guard has a wide variety of tuition reimbursement options available, but each state has different rules and guidelines – so read closely – they vary by state. Learn about National Guard tuition options.
7. Publix: Publix is an employee-owned supermarket chain with 1,136 locations in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia. Publix has been honored as one of Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work for” for 19 straight years. The Publix tuition reimbursement program is one of the reasons why: Any associate with six months of continuous service who works an average of 10 hours a week is eligible to participate with his or her manager’s approval.
8. Starbucks: In a first of its kind collaboration with Arizona State University, Starbucks offers all part- and full-time benefits eligible U.S. partner’s full tuition coverage for every year of college to earn a bachelor’s degree. Learn more about the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.
9. UnitedHealth Group: This diversified health care company that ranks 6th on the Fortune 500 list offers tuition reimbursement for employees who work as little as 20 hours per week.
10. Verizon: Verizon contributed $94.1 million towards tuition assistance of its employees in 2015. Part-time employees who work at least 20 hours per week qualify for up to $4,000 per year in tuition reimbursement, and the money is available to employees either as a prepaid or reimbursement option.
Tuition Reimbursement: Tips for success
If you are hired by one of these companies – or another company that offers tuition reimbursement for part-time employees – be sure to work with your manager, or someone in HR with that company to ensure all guidelines and qualifications are met in order to become eligible for tuition reimbursement. In many cases college students will still need to pay for tuition, with the tuition reimbursement program often reimbursing the employee upon successful completion of the requirements needed to receive tuition reimbursement (this varies for each employer). Simply working at one of these employers will not automatically guarantee reimbursement, so work with your employer and college or university to make sure the right processes and steps are followed.
“When beginning a role with tuition assistance, just be aware of the specific requirements and qualifications of the program,” says Caldwell. “Some programs may require enrollment with a particular school or program. Others may also require a specific term of employment as a condition of accepting the reimbursement option. Also, make sure that you are aware of any tax implications of the program.”
And here’s one more tip: If you secure a part-time job with a company that you value, but they don’t have a tuition reimbursement plan in place, don’t let that stop you from asking a manager or HR if they would consider working with you to develop a tuition reimbursement plan. For example, a small employer may be willing to work with a valuable part-time employee on an individual basis because they see that education as an investment not only in your future, but their future as well. They may create a tuition reimbursement plan/program, as a retention tool to keep you/recruit you after graduation. It’s worth a shot.
College is expensive, finding a part-time job with tuition reimbursement can help lessen the costs of getting your college degree. Research these employers and use these tips to find a part-time job with tuition reimbursement that is right for you.