UCF is partnering with another major employer to provide access to high quality education to more students in the region. Goodwill Industries of Central Florida has announced a new prepaid tuition program that will cover the cost of college or professional education for its employees.
Luis Diaz, a junior at UCF studying forensic psychology, is among the first to participate in the program. A first-generation student, he has worked at Goodwill for a year and a half, first as a sales associate in the retail store and now as a warehouse forklift operator.
“I immediately thought, ‘This is an amazing opportunity,'” Diaz said. “I also thought of all my colleagues and the opportunity they have to start school. For me, this ensures my academic career and maintains my motivation.
All full-time and part-time Goodwill employees with at least 90 days of continuous employment are eligible to participate in the program, which covers 100% of their tuition, books and other fees upfront.
For Diaz, who worked full time to pay for her education and used student loans for her first three years, the added benefit will significantly offset her costs.
“It means I won’t have to worry as much about future debt as I will have,” Diaz says. “I think it will allow me to integrate more easily into my career.
“We are very pleased to partner with Goodwill, a major Central Florida employer who impacts so many lives through the exceptional work they do in our community,” said Theodorea Regina Berry, Vice President of Student Learning and Academic Success and Dean of the College of Undergraduate Studies. “Together, we’ll help more students pursue and earn college degrees that transform lives and raise families for generations.”
“We want our employees to be trained to be successful in their jobs – and we want their work to help them achieve the goals they desire in life,” says Ed Durkee, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central. Florida. “We believe that the cost of education should not stand in the way of these aspirations, so we intend to provide employees with the financial pathway to pursue a degree or a skilled trade.”
Goodwill employees interested in the program will be matched with a prosperity planner, who specializes in financial strategies and career goals and will provide one-on-one coaching. To be eligible, employees must enroll in a Florida state college or public university, accredited technical college, or trade school, and must maintain a passing grade of “C” or its equivalent.
The company currently employs more than 1,200 people in Orange, Osceola, Lake, Brevard, Seminole and Volusia counties, and has jobs in retail, warehouse, transportation, human resources and information technology.
Goodwill joins an extensive and growing list of companies that choose UCF as partners for their educational assistance programs. In March, UCF partnered with Amazon’s Career Choice program. Earlier this year, several Fortune 1000 companies, including Target, Chipotle and Taco Bell, added UCF to the list of schools their employees can attend to have their tuition covered in select programs.