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Target to pay 100% of college education, textbooks for employees

Target Corp. is offering its more than 340,000 part-time and full-time employees a new benefit: debt-free college education, complete with free textbooks and more. It will also help cover graduate school costs.

The discounter will invest $200 million during the next four years in the program, which it described as “the most comprehensive debt-free education assistance program available in the retail industry.” The offering will include 250 business-aligned programs — from business management and operations to IT, computer science, design and more — from over 40 schools, colleges and universities. Employees are eligible to participate in the program on their first day of work. 

The move comes a week after Walmart  launched a similar initiative. (Starbucks and Chipotle also offer debt-free education programs.). It also comes as many businesses are boosting pay and adding employee benefits in a bid to attract workers.

[Read More: CVS Health hiking pay, cuts education requirement for workers]

Target said that employees who participate in the program won't have any out-of-pocket costs and will have flexibility to find opportunities that fit with their interests, schedules and career goals. The participating academic institutions include the University of Arizona, Oregon State University, University of Denver and eCornell along with HBCUs Morehouse College, Paul Quinn College and more. 

For employees who pursue educational opportunities outside of the select business-aligned programs, including master's degrees, Target will provide direct payments to their academic institution of up to $5,250 for non-master's degrees and up to $10,000 for master's degrees each year to reduce the burden of up-front, costly tuition payments. 

"Target employs team members at every life stage and helps our team learn, develop and build their skills, whether they're with us for a year or a career,” said Melissa Kremer, chief human resources officer, Target. “A significant number of our hourly team members build their careers at Target, and we know many would like to pursue additional education opportunities. We don't want the cost to be a barrier for anyone, and that's where Target can step in to make education accessible for everyone.”  

Last week, Target gave a $200 bonus to its hourly full-time and part-time workers in stores, distribution centers and contact centers.

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