Disney to offer eligible employees free tuition at University of Central Florida

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Thursday, May 23, 2019
In this Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019 photo, guests at watch a show in front of the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

ORLANDO -- The Walt Disney Company is expanding its employee education program, adding the University of Central Florida to the list of institutions eligible employees can attend free of charge.

Through its Disney Aspire program first announced in 2018, the company will cover tuition costs upfront and reimburse application fees and other eligible expenses for employees attending UCF and other in-network institutions.

Eligible employees will be able to choose from 34 UCF programs, both undergraduate and graduate, including multiple that are completely online. UCF will be the first school in the network to offer an undergraduate degree in entertainment management.

Other in-network institutions include Wilmington University, Valencia College, University of Florida and University of Denver.

"We could not be more excited to be working with Disney to make a high-quality college degree even more accessible," UCF Interim President Thad Seymour Jr. said in a news release announcing the partnership. "Many of our students already are Disney employees who will immediately benefit, and this program has the potential to change lives in our community for generations."

Disney said Thursday that 40 percent of the company's 85,000 eligible employees had signed up for the program since it launched last year. More than 6,000 are currently enrolled in classes.

Disney joined other large corporations that have begun paying tuition for workers in a job market with historically low unemployment. In 2018, Walmart said it would offer workers the chance to get a college degree at three universities with online programs.

Disney's program is being administered by Guild Education, the same Denver-based firm operating Walmart's program.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of this station.