The world’s largest retailer is working with universities and colleges across the country to provide a free education to its workers.
Amazon, the nation’s second-largest employer, already provided free tuition to its staff, under a $1.2 billion initiative launched last fall.
But the program, known as Career Choice, was expanded on Thursday.
Amazon announced that 140 schools were added to the 40 existing participants, according to Fortune magazine.
“We’ve really listened to our associates,” the leader of the Career Choice program, Tammy Thieman, told Fortune.
“And our associates have told us that they’d like to be able to expand their Career Choice offerings and achieve career success—and also looking ahead with what they’ll be able to do with that to grow both in the company and those other opportunities outside the company.”
“We really want to help associates achieve career success,” Thieman added. “We really believe that anybody who comes to Amazon should be able to build their career with us—and that’s whether they stay with us or whether they go somewhere else.”
The program is open to Amazon hourly employees who have at least three months with the company.
Career Choice applies to online programs at participating schools, or Amazon staffers can attend classes at one of 110 company locations across America, Fortune reported.
While Amazon promises that the program offers “free” tuition, Money.com reported that the company caps the cost to itself at $5,250. Which means workers would have to cover any additional costs.
Nine Florida schools were added to Amazon’s new roster, according to Fortune.
They include: Florida International University, Florida State College, Hillsborough Community College, Miami-Dade College, Polk State College, University of Central Florida, University of Florida Online, Valencia College – Downtown Campus, and Florida State College at Jacksonville.
Thieman said, “We’ve really been looking at who are those partners that can really help us achieve better outcomes for our associates—and by outcomes we mean not just course completion, but how do we help them take the next step in their career and land that next job based on the education and skills they’ve learned.”
At UF, for example, Amazon employees could pursue one of 25 available online degrees.
“By covering UF Online tuition and fees for their admitted workers, Amazon is giving its employees an opportunity to earn a degree from a top-tier university in programs that are designed to provide flexibility for people in all stages of life,” Joe Glover, UF’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said in a statement.
“By removing the barrier of cost, this partnership will give Floridians another avenue to advance their careers and prosper in a fast-growing workforce.”