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Target Paying Employees' Full College Tuition, Books Included

The retail giant introduces most comprehensive education benefit to date.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

August 12, 2021

Target will pay for tuition, fees, and books, for all employees, starting their first day of work.
Target Paying Employees' Full College Tuition, Books Included
You just pulled into the Target parking lot. On the drive over, you’ve been mentally rehearsing your list: toothpaste, deodorant, and K-Pods for your dorm room Keurig. As you leave the store one hour later, you glance mournfully at your cart full of throw pillows, cozy blankets, and scented candles. It's Target. It happens. If you were an employee at Target, you could encourage yourself with the fact that you bought all of those fun goodies with your employee discount. Similarly, you could congratulate yourself on choosing to work at Target in the first place, where they’re actually paying for your college tuition, fees, and textbooks.

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Just like Startbucks, Chipotle, and Walmart, Target is the latest corporation to offer free college tuition as an incentive to its current and prospective employees.

Details on Target's Debt-Free Degree Program

Target’s Debt-Free Degree promise to associates is pretty comprehensive. Here’s a look at the details: • Available to: Part-time and full-time employees at stores, distribution centers, and headquarters locations. • Education courses covered include: Courses for high school completion, college prep and English language learning as well as select certificates, certifications, bootcamps, associate and undergraduate degrees. Target will also pay a sum toward Master’s degrees. • Participating colleges and universities: Associates can choose to complete the Debt-Free Degree Program at 40+ schools, colleges, and universities that include the University of Arizona, Oregon State University, online colleges like eCornell, and historically Black colleges and universities, such as Morehouse College and Paul Quinn College. • Caveats: Team members must enroll in a business-aligned degree program; however, there are over 250 fields from which to choose. Also, the Debt-Free Program is only available to first-time degree seeking students. For those team members that wish to continue their education, Target will pay up to $5,250 for non-master's degrees and up to $10,000 for master’s degrees each year.

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The Debt-Free Degree program is available to Target employees on the first day of employment.

Other Benefits to Target Employees

Target wants to lead the retail industry in benefits for employees, which is why they have launched the most comprehensive education benefit in the retail industry. In addition to the Debt-Free Degree program, Target’s starting wages are $15 per hour. Employees also have access to free mental health resources, virtual healthcare, and back-up child care benefits. The company provides employees with recognition bonuses, most recently awarding all of its front-line workers in stores and distribution centers with a $200 bonus, according to a press release from Target.

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Balancing Further Education and Part-Time Jobs

Target is just the latest company to entice current and prospective employees with tuition benefits. It joins the ranks of Walmart, Disney, Starbucks, and Chipotle, who all offer full tuition to part-time and full-time employees. Other companies that offer tuition reimbursement toward certifications and college degrees include Yum! Brands (Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell), Chick-fil-A, and McDonald’s. These are great places for high school and college students to start their work experience and get the funding they need to pay for school. Although balancing your course schedule with a part-time job is not always easy, it’s definitely possible. Part-time jobs typically require at least 20 hours of work each week. Many students can reach their hours during the weekend, while others may opt to work on days that they don’t have classes. Designing your college schedule allows you to pick and choose which class times work for you, so it’s much easier to create your work schedule around your courses. Working part-time while you earn your certificate, Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s degree will require a great deal of organization and time management, which are skills that you will need to transfer to your first real world job. Successfully balancing work and school will give you leverage over other job applicants. Plus, you will be graduating with significantly less student loan debt than your peers. You may have to make sacrifices when it comes to your campus involvement. There will be extracurricular activities that you have to pass on because they do not fit in your schedule. However, the beauty of life in higher education is that there is always something happening on a college campus. Chances are, you can find an activity, club, or intramural sport that aligns with your schedule – or simply attend campus-wide events in the evenings or weekends in order to meet other students and socialize. If you do find it difficult to balance a part-time job with your college work, remember that your education comes first. Talk to your boss about cutting back hours or creating a schedule that works better for you. Meet with your academic advisor to talk through any struggles you’re having. Find a tutor in a field of study that may be particularly difficult. The point is that as a student and employee, you have plenty of resources at your disposal. Individuals in your current stage of life simply want to see you succeed. Remember that and utilize them to carve out a healthy balance of school and work.

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