Recently, UPS was able to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its debt-free college program for employees. 

Free college tuition may seem like a myth to most students but it’s a reality for some UPS employees. Louisville, Kentucky, is home to the UPS world headquarters, which employs over 20,000 people. And roughly 10 percent of these employees take advantage of a program that helps students graduate from college debt-free.

Metropolitan College may sound like a brick-and-mortar school but it’s actually a partnership between UPS, Jefferson Community and Technical College, and the University of Louisville. And through this partnership, UPS has paid over $131 million in tuition assistance for 17,000 employees, Wave 3 News in Louisville reported.

The program, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary, is open to part-time UPS employees that work as Next Day Air part-time hub, ramp, and freight employees. Their shifts begin sometime between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Participants work five days a week on the overnight sorting shift to earn the money for their tuition.

In exchange, students receive deferred full undergraduate in-state tuition at either of the two partnership schools. They also receive reimbursement for their books, bonuses, support at work and on campus, and access to an on-site computer lab.

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Bill Geiger, the UPS workforce planning manager, told WLKY in Louisville the retention rate for individuals in this program is 89 percent. This is beneficial for UPS because the students help staff world port operations.

Louisville residents that are interested in this program should apply at UPS at least 30 to 40 days before their desired start date. They must be hired at UPS in Louisville’s Next Day Air Operation as a package handler.

They’ll also need to fill out a FAFSA and apply to either Jefferson Community and Technical College or the University of Louisville. Applicants must have either a high school diploma or a GED. And students with fewer than 60 transferable credit hours must score at least a 21 on their ACT and have a high school grade point average of a 3.0 or higher. 

Students who don’t live in the Louisville area or aren’t able to work overnight shifts can still find a way to have at least part of their tuition paid for. UPS also offers a tuition assistance program where employees can earn up to $25,000 for their tuition. And there are many other companies that offer some type of tuition assistance program.