If more businesses follow the lead of Starbucks — and now Fiat Chrysler — the student loan debt load of college graduates could be significantly reduced.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Monday that all 118,000 employees at its U.S. dealerships will get the opportunity for a “no-cost, no-debt” college degree through Strayer University’s “Degrees@Work program.”
FCA’s move comes after an announcement last month by Starbucks that it is now offering its employees a bachelor’s degree for free through an online program with partner Arizona State University.
Fiat Chrysler said that college degrees will be offered as a benefit at no-cost to employees, including books and other expenses, at the 2,400 Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram and Fiat dealerships through Strayer University, a private for-profit institution whose entire bachelor degree program can be finished online.
FCA said the new Degrees@Work program will help “attract top talent, improve the skills of existing employees, and significantly increase employee retention.”
The first phase of the FCA free college program will launch in the Southeast, with dealerships in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee now offering their employees the chance to enroll in online and on-campus degree programs for summer and fall terms from Strayer University.
‘Availability of Talent’ is a Concern
“Many of our dealers have expressed concern over the availability of talent to fill open positions due to business growth and turnover in their stores, especially in metro markets,” said Al Gardner, Head of Dealer Network Development, and President & CEO of the Chrysler Brand, FCA US LLC. “Our goal is to position our dealer network as the ‘employers of choice.’ Our collaboration with Strayer demonstrates our focus on building our dealers’ hard-working employees’ skill sets to help them perform at an optimal level while also investing in their long-term success.”
Founded in 1892, Strayer University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, based in Philadelphia. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.