Rising Cost of Education

College Costs Keep Rising

Given the astronomical rise in the cost of attending college, it makes sense to look for free money for college and an excellent source might be your employer. The average cost for in-state tuition as calculated by The College Board including room and board and fees at a public college is $20,770 a year. A four-year total of $83,080. Students attending a private, non-profit college will pay an average of $46,950 per year for tuition, room, and board, and fees totaling $187,800 at the end of four years.

For more information on the role of education and the growing income gap, check out our earlier blog post on the topic.

graduating student with ball and chain of debtStudent loan debt is now $1.48 trillion dollars!


A college degree that includes a mountain of student loan debt isn’t a good financial move. Current figures place the student loan debt in the U.S. at $1.48 trillion! For more statistics on student loan debt, check out this article from studentloanhero.com.

Fortunately, the IRS allows employers to deduct up to $5,250 per year for tuition reimbursement and the benefit is not taxable to the employee. It makes sense for companies to encourage the continued development of skills to maximize the employee’s contributions and prepare them for possible advancement in rank and pay. Many companies are offering this benefit to full and part-time employees. A 2017 article from US News explores the ins-and-outs of tuition reimbursement programs for part-time workers at several companies.

This article will explore the educational benefits offered by national corporations, but many smaller or local companies offer similar benefits. Take advantage of all your company offers by checking with your HR office regarding benefits and program requirements.

Know the Programs Rules and Requirements!

It is important to know and understand all regulations related to your company’s tuition reimbursement program such as:

  • What degree or programs can be pursued?
  • Is a minimum grade of C or higher required for reimbursement?
  • Do I have to remain with the company for a specific length of time after completion?
  • How long do I have to work for the company before I am eligible to participate in the program?
  • Does my degree have to relate to my position within the company?

*Information in this article is accurate at the time of publication. Please research the specific program or company to see if there have been changes to the offerings.

grad hat on money sign9 Companies Offering Free Money for College





(*Click on the name of the company to view company website page about their tuition assistance programs)


Where can you enroll? Arizona State University (ASU) (Online)

Who is eligible? full- and part-time eligible U.S. workers

When are you eligible? Hourly employees working an average of 20 hours a week are eligible after 3 months of employment.

What are my up-front costs? Employees must pay for the classes and are reimbursed following completion.

Home Depot 

Where can you enroll? Colleges, technical schools, and select IT certification programs.

Who is eligible? Salaried, Full time, and part-time workers.

When are you eligible? After 90 days of employment.

What are my up-front costs? Must pay tuition and fees and can be reimbursed up to 50% of the cost. Annual Maximums: Salaried – $5000., Full-Time – $3,000, and Part-Time – $1500.


Where can you enroll? The University of Florida, Brandman University or Bellevue University. Can only pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in business or supply chain management. (Online Courses)

Who is eligible? Full time, part-time, or salaried employees.

When are you eligible? Must have been employed for at least 90 days.

What are my up-front costs? $1 a day.

The program is managed by Guild Education.


Where can you enroll? College or University program at the undergraduate or graduate level if the degree will help with their current position or future advancement. Also offers the opportunity to learn a trade skill through their Track to Trades program.

Who is eligible? Full-time employees

When are you eligible? After 1 year of employment

What are my up-front costs? None for Track to Trades program. Tuition payments are reimbursed. Annual maximum of $2500. 100% of tuition and lab fees and 50% of books are reimbursed.


Where can you enroll? Accredited 2- or 4-year institutions, technology or vocational school.

Who is eligible? Salaried and hourly employees.

When are you eligible? Salaried workers are eligible on the first day of employment. Hourly workers must be employed for 1 year.

What are my up-front costs? Must pay for tuition and be reimbursed. $5250 max per year.

Taco Bell 

Where can you enroll? The program is run by Guild Education and offers discounts at 80 online universities offering everything from high school completion to data science certificates to master’s degrees.

Who is eligible? All Employees

When are you eligible? Information not available.

What are my up-front costs? None, the annual maximum is $5250.


Where can you enroll? College, trade school, 2-year schools and other occupational training.

Who is eligible? Employees who work at least 10 hours a week.

When are you eligible? After 6 continuous months of employment.

What are my up-front costs? The employee must pay and be reimbursed. The benefit is capped at $3,200 a year for college and $12,800 maximum. $1700 annual limit for trade schools, 2-year schools, and other occupational training.


Where can you enroll? community college, four-year university, or a trade school

Who is eligible? Workers averaging 15 hours a week.

When are you eligible? Must work for 90 days first.

What are my up-front costs? None, the annual benefit for hourly workers is capped at $2,500. No lifetime cap on total benefit.


Where can you enroll? Varies by the location of employment.

Who is eligible? Part-time and full-time employees

When are you eligible? Date of Hire

What are my up-front costs?


Companies That Help Employees Pay for College

30 Companies That Help Employees Pay for College




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