The Disney Aspire program is offering to cover 100% of the upfront tuition costs for Disney employees.
Last January, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that the company would be launching a new education program. This week, the company launched the program, which will be available to Disney’s 80,000 cast members and hourly employees.
Disney Aspire is an education investment program, and the company covers 100 percent of the upfront tuition costs. This program is starting with an initial $50 million investment and the company plans to add an additional $25 million annually. The program could go a long way in helping its employees getting an education without going into student loan debt.
Jayne Parker, senior executive vice president at The Walt Disney Company, said in a company announcement that she’s excited that Disney is launching this program. “We are constantly looking at ways to help people realize their ambitions and fulfill their dreams and this program is the latest in that effort,” Parker said.
Parker says that Disney’s program is more comprehensive than other educational programs. The company decided to cover tuition costs upfront so it would be easily accessible to all employees. The company also plans to reimburse employees for any money they spend on books and other startup costs.
Through Disney Aspire, employees can earn their bachelor’s or master’s degree, high school diploma, English language learning, or even pursue vocational training. And employees don’t have to pursue a degree that is related to their job or promise to continue working for Disney after their studies are completed.
Disney is partnering with Guild Education to offer this program. Guild will coach employees to help them find the program that’s right for them. And they will continue to offer employees support through their educational journey.
Initially, classes will be offered online only with the option to extend these studies to the classroom eventually. Parker said that company will adjust the program over time based on feedback they receive from employees.
Disney Aspire will kick off at the start of the 2018 fall semester. The program is available to both full-time and part-time employees 90 days after they begin working for Disney.
Disney isn’t the only company to offer this perk to their employees. Increasingly, companies are offering tuition assistance packages as a way to attract skilled employees in a job market with historically low unemployment rates.
Walmart also works with Guild Education to give their employees the opportunity to earn a degree at one of three different colleges. And Starbucks offers their employees tuition assistance through a partnership with Arizona State University. Home Depot, Chipotle, and UPS also offer similar programs.
However, the implementation of these programs can vary greatly depending on the company. Some offer upfront payment like Disney while other companies, like Starbucks, reimburse their employees for their tuition.
Some companies require that all coursework is completed through a specific school to be eligible for reimbursement and others may require employees to earn a certain grade. Employees should always make sure they understand the details of these programs before signing up.