Citi is the latest employer to offer a free college to its workers

Why are Americans drowning in debt?

in a day job marketTuition assistance has become one of the most popular incentives companies use to attract and retain workers.

Now, some employers are going a step further with free college programs to offer greater financial support.

The latest developments, City It announced that it offers fully-funded degrees from partner schools, including the University of Maryland’s global campus, Walden University, and Western Governor University, as well as tuition assistance for undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs.

Nearly 38,000 Citi consumer banking employees will now be eligible for the expanded education benefits program, including free college, according to the company, which works in partnership with EdAssist by Bright Horizons.

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Cameron Headrick, Citi’s chief learning officer, said the goal is “to reduce the economic barrier for our colleagues to earn a formal degree or degree, while enhancing Citi’s competitive advantage” — and that “helps us do both.”

Among its clients, EdAssist saw a 33% jump in the number of companies offering degree programs at no cost in 2022 alone, including employers such as McDonald’sAnd the synchronizationAnd the Raytheon Technologies And the T-Mobile.

Other big names, including AmazonAnd the Home DepotAnd the targetingAnd the Walmart UBSAnd the FedExAnd the Chipotle And the Starbucks , It also has programs that help cover the cost of going back to school. waste management It will not only pay for college degrees and professional certifications for employees but also offers the same benefit to their spouses and children.

Coming out of the pandemic, these types of benefits play a large role in the competition for talent, and as a result, more companies present opportunities to develop new skills, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s recent employee benefits. exploratory study.

Now, nearly half or 48% of employers say they offer tuition assistance to undergraduate or graduate students as an advantage.

naturally, Employers paying their employees to get a degree is nothing new. For decades, companies have chosen the graduate tab for white-collar workers and MBAs.

However, many companies are now extending this feature to frontline workers — such as drivers, cashiers and hourly employees — as well as aggressively promoting offers more than they used to be.

For employers, education as a feature is a cost-effective addition to core offerings, according to Jill Boban, workplace education expert and managing director of EdAssist.

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Despite a strong desire to go back to school, less than half of employees said they have been able to pursue educational goals in the past several years, mostly due to time commitment and financial hurdles, according to research bright prospects.

Bright Horizons found that conflict is greater between minorities.

Up to that point, 44% of black employees said they had trouble providing an education, compared to 29% of white employees. There is a similar disparity between men and women. Nearly 36% of working women report financial barriers to education, compared to 22% of men.

“There are still limitations for all adult workers: the time, the financial commitment, the confidence to go back to the classroom,” Boban said.

“These benefits could give an extra boost – they could be a real game-changer.”

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