Disney workers received a sprinkling of pixie dust Thursday with word that The Mouse will pay 100% of their UCF tuition through Disney’s Aspire Education Investment Program.
The Disney Aspire Program, which begins for UCF in Fall of 2019, will provide both part and full-time employees with at least 90 days of service and a free ride to pursue both bachelor and master’s degrees in a variety of fields, many of which are online.
In addition to upfront tuition payment, cast-members will receive reimbursement for textbooks, course materials, and application fees – essentially dismantling the tall hurdle of initial attendance costs.
The University of Central Florida is the latest school to join Disney’s Aspire education network.
“Adding UCF to this prestigious network of schools will provide our Cast Members with even more options to create the futures they imagine,” George A. Kalogridis said in a press release. Kalogridis is president of Walt Disney World Resort and class of ‘76 UCF alumnus.
The UCF/Disney collaboration arrives as needed relief for many struggling with the rising cost of tuition in America. According to the U.S. Department of Education, tuition at four-year colleges has more than doubled over the past 30 years, and Debt.org, an Orlando based organization focused on helping American’s manage debt, reports student debt averages hovering around 37,000.
In a press release, UCF interim president Thad Seymour Jr., acknowledged the significance of the partnership for the UCF student body.
“Many of our students already are Disney employees who will immediately benefit,” Seymour said. “This program has the potential to change lives in our community for generations.”
According to Disney, approximately 40% of their eligible 85,000 employees have enrolled in the program since its inception and more than 6,000 are taking classes. And with the addition of UCF, it’s estimated that 53,000 Florida resident Disney employees will be eligible to participate when the UCF partnership begins this fall.
The inclusion of UCF into Disney’s Aspire program marks another step forward for Disney’s Florida employees in recent years. In August of 2018, Disney vowed to Florida park-employees an across-the-board pay raise to $15 an hour by 2021 and a one-time $1,000 bonus. The plan, which was unveiled last year, came in wake of President Trump signing a bill which slashed the corporate tax rates.
Click here to learn more of Disney’s Aspire program and its opportunities in trade and English courses.