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Employees of Discover Financial Services can now attend college for free.
This makes Discover — the company that issues Discover credit cards — part of a growing number of employers that offer education as a benefit.
A growing trend
Discover offers its new employee benefit in partnership with Guild Education, a company that partners with employers to provide education benefits.
Walmart, which introduced an education benefit in May, also offers it through Guild.
These and other employers that now have partnered with Guild include:
- Chipotle Mexican Grill
- Hospital Corporation of America (HCA)
- Taco Bell
Guild CEO Rachel Carson attributes this trend to the current economic landscape. She tells MoneyWatch:
“Especially with the student debt crisis, people feel like they can’t embark on an education on their own. Coupled with the tight job market, it suddenly becomes a very obvious benefit for employers to offer.”
Job data underscore Carson’s point about the tight labor market. The unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent in April — making it lower than it has been in more than a decade, according to the latest federal data.
The Discover College Commitment
The extent of education benefits varies from employer to employer, but Discover’s offering is relatively generous.
The Discover College Commitment program, as it’s formally known, covers full-ride expenses for an online bachelor’s degree:
- Required fees
Further, Discover notes that its program stands apart from those of other employers in that workers are eligible for it starting on their first day and can receive an unlimited amount of education assistance.
Employees can choose to earn certain degrees from one of three schools:
- University of Florida (via UF Online)
- Brandman University
- Wilmington University
The Discover press release announcing the program does not say whether part-time employees are eligible for the education benefit. To learn more about the Discover College Commitment program, check out Guild Education’s webpage about it.
For more ways to save on a higher education, check out “12 Ways to Slash the High Cost of Earning a College Degree.”
What’s your take on the trend of education as an employee benefit? Share your thoughts below or over on our Facebook page.