NKU recently announced a new partnership with Amazon to provide employees with free or reduced tuition.
Employees who work at Amazon for at least 90 days can enroll in the Career Choice program. Full-time employees will receive $5,250 and part-time employees will receive $2,650 for tuition.
This is the newest of approximately 20 employer partnerships held by NKU. Amazon also hosts similar partnerships with universities across the country, so students can learn while earning.
Carmen Hickerson, NKU’s assistant vice president for economic engagement and government relations, pointed out that this partnership was ideal because there are three regional Amazon facilities in the northern Kentucky region. However, participation in the program is not limited to this region. Employees from across the country can enroll in the program, which is available for in-person, blended and online courses.
“This is a tremendous learning-while-earning benefit for Amazon employees. [NKU] hope that not only will we get new students as a result of this, but other employers will see what Amazon does, and how that’s a recruiting and retention advantage, and maybe offer the same thing to their employees,” Hickerson said. .
There is also no specific major required to receive tuition benefits. Hickerson expects to see a continued influx into majors that are already popular at NKU.
“We can see everything from healthcare to college of business like business management. I also think there are people who might be interested in technology areas, so the College of Informatics,” she said.
Hickerson believes such partnerships are a positive trend. The willingness of companies like Amazon to invest in their employees is admirable, and students should look for such perks when looking for a job.
“I think more and more you’re going to see this stuff. This is going to be a competitive advantage for employers who are willing to make this kind of investment, and NKU is excited and ready to be that partner,” she said.
Sophomore Joel Katterheinrich agrees with Hickerson, and for him, the partnership couldn’t have come at a better time.
The mechanical and manufacturing engineering major, who works at Amazon’s Hebron branch, had started the new job search when news of the partnership broke.
“I was looking for another job that offered some kind of tuition reimbursement,” Katterheinrich said.
Since NKU is part of Amazon’s Career Choice program, the second took the necessary steps to enroll in the program, which he said was a straightforward process.
“It’s actually very easy. You log in with your work credentials, apply to the school, tell them what your major is, and enter your student information,” he said.
Katterheinrich, however, sees even more benefits for the program than just lower tuition. He pointed out that almost all higher-level positions at Amazon require a bachelor’s degree.
“It can be very difficult to balance going to work because I have to pay for my education and I’m trying to go to school to get a better job. For a lot of people, if they can take advantage of this program, they can get that bachelor’s degree to help them move up in the business,” he said.
Katterheinrich praised his experience at Amazon and would recommend the company to students, especially given the new benefits.
“I have the option of working only two days a week, and I still qualify for this benefit as a part-time employee. I encourage people to definitely explore this option.