Higher Support

More and more companies and businesses are supporting employees in their efforts to receive higher education.

Given the rising cost of higher education, coupled with low unemployment, more companies are picking up the tab and sending their workers back to school. The move is designed to boost employee retention and engagement, as well as attract new workers.

While most large corporations offer some form of financial support to qualified workers seeking a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, a backlog of open jobs has sparked a new round of collegiate support. Some companies are even targeting specific degree programs to improve their operations.

Walmart Inc., for example, recently announced it would pay to send its workers to a college or university, but only for business or supply-chain management degrees.

“We know there (are) a lot of benefits from a business perspective,” says Drew Holler, vice president of people innovation at Walmart U.S. “We know we’re going to see an influx of (job) applications.”

Locally, automakers, Tier 1 suppliers, large banks, technology firms, hospitals, and numerous other businesses pay some form of support to encourage their workers to start or complete a degree program.

Support also is coming at the high school level. The Detroit College Promise, which got its start as an independent organization, offers scholarships to students who are enrolled in the Detroit Public Schools Community District or its affiliated charter schools. The DPS Foundation took over the program in recent years.

Under the program, students who live in Detroit, attend a DPSCD high school, have applied for financial aid, and maintain a 2.5 GPA or higher will receive financial aid if they are accepted into and attend a college or a university in Michigan. School officials say more support is needed. Since the inception of the program, more than 500 students have received financial aid.

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