WCC, Amazon partner to offer free tuition for Amazon hourly employees

Washtenaw Community College (WCC) has partnered with Amazon's Career Choice program to offer free tuition up to $5,250 a year to any Amazon hourly employee.

WCC is now one of hundreds of schools, spanning 14 countries, through which Amazon hourly employees can take classes for free. Brandon Tucker, WCC vice president and chief workforce and community development officer, says WCC had to go through an application process to join the program. The school was chosen for its reputation, its large selection of online classes, and its proximity to Amazon facilities. There are 12,000 Amazon employees working out of two locations within a 45-minute drive of WCC.

The $5,250 annual limit on tuition payments from Amazon is based on the federal limit for tax exemptions on education assistance program benefits. Tucker says participating employees may use the funds to cover not only tuition, but also books and supplies for class.

Tucker stresses that there are "no limits" on which classes or programs Amazon employees can take, nor on where those employees are located. Although WCC will initially promote the program locally, Tucker also hopes to eventually market it more broadly and offer classes to Amazon employees nationwide.

"It allows us to achieve our mission, which is helping people on their pathway to education," he says. "It expands our reach, whether it's a student that wants to come on campus for classes or a student that wants to go online. We have a number of offerings that can support them on their journey."

Patrick Dunn is the managing editor of Concentrate.