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Target to pay 100% of college tuition and textbooks in bid to attract workers

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Key Points
  • Target is rolling out a new education program that will cover the cost of associate and undergraduate degrees at select schools. It also will help pay for graduate school costs.
  • The big-box retailer is the latest company to dangle perks to woo job candidates in a competitive market.
  • Walmart, Chipotle and Starbucks offer similar debt-free education programs.

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Target said Wednesday it will offer new perks to woo workers: a debt-free way to get a college degree and payments toward graduate programs.

Starting this fall, the big-box retailer said it will cover the cost of tuition, fees and textbooks for part- and full-time workers who pursue a qualifying undergraduate degree at more than 40 institutions. It will also fund advanced degrees, paying up to $10,000 each year for master's programs at those schools.

The national retailer is the latest company to dangle perks to attract job candidates in a competitive labor market. With the move, Target joins other retailers and restaurant chains — including Chipotle and Starbucks — that have programs that help employees pay for college. Walmart recently announced it would cover the full cost of college tuition and books for its employees, after previously requiring them to pay $1 a day.

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At Target, employees at stores, distribution centers and headquarters locations in the U.S. will qualify on their first day. Target will cover the full cost for 250 programs aligned to its business, such as computer science, information technology and business management. If an employee chooses a different specialty or seeks a graduate degree, Target will pay up to $5,250 for non-master's degrees and up to $10,000 for master's degrees each year in direct payments to the academic institution.

Target said it plans to invest $200 million in the education program over the next four years. It developed the program with Guild Education, a company that manages corporate education assistance programs. Participating schools include the University of Arizona, Oregon State University, University of Denver and Morehouse College.