Eligible UCCS students can get tuition covered through Amazon employment

Students employed at Amazon may now see benefits through a new partnership with UCCS.

Amazon’s Career Choice program offers employees full, lifetime tuition coverage to pursue their education at partner institutions — including UCCS as of July. Amazon expanded in Colorado Springs last year with a new fulfillment center on South Powers Boulevard near the Colorado Springs Airport.

To qualify for the program, employees must work for the company for a minimum of 90 continuous days starting from the blue badge level, according to Amazon’s website. Full-time and part-time employees are eligible, though the blue badge requirement means they must be permanent hourly employees as opposed to temporary or seasonal workers.

Amazon’s website lists multiple educational options for program members to pursue: bachelor’s and associate’s degrees, certificates, GED or high school equivalency and English as a second language studies.

Chris Beiswanger, UCCS admissions director, said that Amazon approached UCCS about the partnership. “To us, it was a no-brainer and an immediate impact for current students who work for Amazon,” he wrote via email.

Beiswanger believes the program may have an impact on enrollment. Besides the benefit to students currently employed at Amazon, he said, “This could also attract Amazon employees [to UCCS] and encourage them to achieve their educational goals.”

When selecting education partners, Amazon looks for accreditation, variety and program flexibility, according to Beiswanger. He said UCCS’ familiarity with other organizations that offer tuition assistance was also a selection factor.

“Some work directly with our University Bursar’s Office through what is known as Third Party Billing in order to pay for their employees’ tuition, while others such as Amazon and Memorial Hospital have more defined partnerships with us,” Beiswanger said.

Amazon’s Colorado Springs warehouse associate positions start at a pay rate of $15 per hour. Currently, Amazon only has seasonal job openings listed on its website.

According to TechCrawlr, temporary employees must work for Amazon for a minimum of 320 hours, or 40, full-time days, to gain permanent status — and career choice program eligibility. Attendance, productivity and local demand may affect the timing of this process and determine whether Amazon will offer permanent positions.

Photo by Meghan Germain.