Fiat’s New Perk: Free College Tuition

DIEGO LUNA | BUSINESS EDITOR | THE USD VISTA |@DIEGOTOTHEMOON

Italian-American automobile manufacturer Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is offering free tuition at a for-profit college to about 700,000 U.S. dealer employees.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is currently the seventh largest automaker in the world. Their new Degrees@Work program was put in place in an effort to keep talented personnel working for FCA.

FCA has partnered with Strayer University, a Virginia based college that has over 80 campuses in 24 U.S. states.

Several students at the University of San Diego agree that these types of programs are great to incentivize students and reward their respective employers.

Others say that programs such as Degrees@Work are only used to lure in employees.

Fiat Chrysler’s program deals has considered some sizeable risks. FCA employees could take the classes and move to a different dealer or possibly leave the industry altogether.

The companies that offer reimbursement for education require a high GPA in order to receive the full benefit. This means that  student’s respective employer  would monitor each student’s academic standing.

Many student groups on campus require  that their members have good academic standing, the same goes for these companies.

However, some students believe there are discrepancies  and loopholes.    

First year student Joshua Bennett agrees that some people could easily override the system.

“Free tuition is almost a no-brainer,” Bennett said. “It’s a good deal for students, but I wonder if Fiat would be able to prevent its student employees from leaving once they graduate from the school that Fiat paid for.”

Strayer University’s four-year bachelor program is valued at $58,000. Student-employees from FCA would be able to choose the Strayer campus that is nearest to them.

Fiat Chrysler’s head of dealer development, Al Gardner, claims that the Degrees@Work program would give more people access to higher education thus increasing their human capital.

At this time, Fiat Chrysler has not disclosed the estimated costs associated with their free tuition program.

In addition to baccalaureate degrees from Strayer University, Fiat Chrysler will also handle the bill for graduate students. That’s right, FCA will also cover tuition costs for a master’s degree.

Many students may be wondering if there’s a catch to this seemingly credible program.

In order to take advantage of the Degrees@Work program one must be a student wanting to work for Fiat Chrysler. However, a major portion of the curriculum will be catered to needs and expectations of Fiat Chrysler. This means that said curriculum would include courses including marketing, consumer behavior, and information technology.

If you are a student aspiring to be neurosurgeon, botanist, or fashionista, this may not be the best program for you.

However, if you fancy the business world, Fiat Chrysler has over 2,635 locations nationwide.

Senior Colton Michael Moore currently works for Marriott International and he agrees that it’s a great idea for other companies to implement a similar program. Marriott currently offers a program that reimburses the amount of money you spend on books, school supplies, and even tuition for classes that are

“Even if an employer doesn’t offer full tuition costs, I still think many students would and should take advantage if the help was available,” Moore said. “Companies would consider us assets the more educated we enter into the workforce.”

Fiat Chrysler is not the only company that offers higher education programs. Other employers such as General Motors Co., Starbucks, Wells Fargo, Marriott International, and Anthem Inc. have similar incentives such as tuition reimbursement programs.

The University of San Diego has one of the highest tuition costs in California.

At a whopping $46,000 a year at the undergraduate level, some students may consider looking for employers that offer a similar tuition reimbursement program.

Whether you are a communication studies major or majoring in neuroscience, chances are there is an employer out there looking for someone with your skillset. If you’re lucky, they may even be willing to offer a similar tuition free program.

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