Offering Debt-Free Degrees to More Than 340,000 Target Team Members? Now That’s a Smart Move

August 4, 2021 - Article reads in
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A Target team member in red shirt and black mask reaches to stock more toys on a shelf.

This article was updated September 2, 2021.

Team Target’s always at the head of the class. And now it will be even easier — and free — for U.S.-based team members to get their degrees and more starting this fall. With our new debt-free education assistance benefit, our more than 340,000 full-time and part-time team members at stores, distribution centers and headquarters locations will have access to free undergraduate and associates degrees, certificates, bootcamp programs, textbooks and course fees (and lots more) — and it’s all covered, for programs in the debt free network, with no out-of-pocket costs required.

Target’s partnering with education and upskilling platform Guild Education to provide easy access to more than 250 business-aligned programs from over 40 schools, colleges and universities within the coming year. Target will also fund advanced degrees within the network of schools, paying up to $10,000 annually for master’s programs. Learn more about the program details at targetpayandbenefits.com.

To make it happen, Target is investing $200 million in the program over the next four years to help eliminate student debt for our team — part of our Target Forward sustainability strategy commitment to promote access to education. It’s one more way Target is continuing to support our team with industry-leading pay and benefits and advancing our goal to create an equitable and inclusive workforce.

“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. 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,” says Melissa Kremer, chief human resources officer, Target. “Our team members are the heart of Target’s strategy and success, and we have a long history of investing in industry-leading pay, extensive benefits and career opportunities to help our team thrive and have rewarding careers at Target.”

What’s on the syllabus

Team members will have a range of options, including courses for high school completion, college prep and English language learning as well as select certificates, certifications, bootcamps, associate and undergraduate degrees. And schools, colleges and universities like the University of Arizona, Oregon State University and historically Black colleges and universities like Morehouse College and Paul Quinn College to choose from, there will be plenty of opportunity to find something that fits their interests, schedules and career goals.

For team members looking to continue their education in a master’s program or other field of study outside of the debt-free programs but still within the Guild network of schools, Target will provide direct payments to their academic institution to reduce the burden of up-front, costly tuition payments. For programs within the Guild network, Target will also pay for textbooks and course fees that might otherwise hinder team member participation.

Here’s a closer look at how the benefit will work:

A quick history lesson

While this education benefit might be new, Target’s learning and development programming has a, well, history. Team members already spend more than 7 million hours in training annually, including participation in functional learning courses and trainings, leadership development programs, coaching, mentoring and more. And the commitment is part of our longstanding Target values, ensuring all team members have the skills, capabilities and support to build their careers.

The school of life

Prioritizing (and investing in) career development? It’s big for team members — but it’s also huge for Target when they stick with us. Just two examples: average store team leads (who oversee individual departments in Target stores), and average distribution center leaders stay at the Bullseye for at least seven years. And talk about early starts: more than 25% of Target store directors began their careers at Target as hourly team members.

This benefit is also the latest in Target’s investments to support our team members’ health, safety, well-being and career development. Target most recently awarded all U.S.-based frontline hourly full-time and part-time team members in stores, distribution centers and contact centers with a $200 recognition bonus. In 2020, Target invested an additional $1 billion in team members’ well-being, health and safety compared with 2019. This included Target’s industry-leading move to a $15 starting wage for all U.S.-based team members, along with five recognition bonuses Target paid to thank team members for their work throughout the pandemic. Target also offers coronavirus benefits and continues to take steps to ensure Target remains a clean, safe place for team members and guests.

Want to learn more about joining Team Target to get this benefit — and so many others? Head to our Careers page or check out our Team stories for a peek behind-the-scenes with team members.

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