Rolling Back Walmart’s $1 Per Day College Plan

  • Walmart is the largest private sector employer of African Americans
  • 6.2% of the student population at the University of Florida identify as black

Walmart (WMT +2.93%) is dipping its toe into the shallow end of the employee education pool with its latest $1 a day college tuition discount plan. As the largest private sector employer of African Americans in the U.S. will this move help more black people earn college degrees?

Why This Matters: Nearly 21% of Walmart’s 1.4 million U.S. workers are African American. The company noted in its 2016 diversity report more than 8.5% of Walmart executives and senior managers are black.

Walmart officials expect about 68,000 employees would probably enroll during the first five years. Employees can attend three universities as part of the program and they include the University of Florida, Brandman University and Bellevue University. The retail giant chose the schools because of their high graduation rates, particularly among part-time students.

Only 6.2% of the student population at the University of Florida identify as black. If this institution sounds familiar it’s because they recently apologized after black students were repeatedly and forcefully pulled off stage for celebrating during a graduation ceremony. In California nearly 10% of Brandman University’s students are black and Bellevue University in Nebraska is 13% black.

How exactly does Walmart’s college tuition plan work? This program is limited to online degree programs offered by three schools. Employees will have to specifically focus on bachelor’s or associate degrees in either business or supply chain management. Walmart workers enrolled in the program would not be required to pay for their education upfront and seek reimbursement later.

Situational Awareness: The labor market is getting stronger, and employers are needing to think harder about how to invest in recruiting and retaining employees. Only time will tell whether or not policymakers are going to keep unemployment low long enough to force big companies to finally just raise employee pay.

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