Relationships are important for higher education institutions. In order to maintain a positive image, you must have good relationships with students, staff and alumni. But these aren’t the only relationships that matter. The connections you have with other companies is important, too. That is why some colleges and universities have found a mutually rewarding opportunity in brand partnerships.

Could This Be the Perfect Marriage?

The arrangement between higher institutions and companies makes perfect sense. Companies need to train their employees, and colleges need to increase their enrollments. Companies are already spending tons of money providing their employees with ongoing training and education, so why not put it back into the higher education sector?

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce estimates that $772 billion in the US is being spent on postsecondary training and education each year. Only about one-third of that amount is going to 4-year colleges and universities, and a very small amount goes to 2-year institutions. The rest goes to apprenticeships, industry-based certifications and other programs of the sort.

These numbers tell us that an opportunity between brands and higher education institutions is being wasted. Both need to make it a priority to work together and put together attractive programs that benefit our nation as a whole. This way, companies can keep their employees trained and qualified, and colleges and universities can maintain a more relevant curriculum and higher enrollment.

More Employers Offer Tuition Reimbursement  

Fortunately, more companies and universities are seeing the value in this partnership. Between 2014 to now, companies like McDonald’s, Starbucks and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have announced that they will pay to send their employees to college. It’s a huge motivator for those who want to further their education but cannot do so without a bit of financial assistance.

Each partnership is unique. For example, McDonald’s is mostly working with community colleges to give crew members and managers the opportunity to further their experience in business and hospitality management. The corporation pays up to $700 of tuition coverage for workers and $1,050 for managers. The money can be used for both online or on-campus classes.

Starbucks has partnered with Arizona State University to help workers finish their degrees. The amount they give to workers varies, but sources say that ASU has reduced their tuition by 42 percent for Starbucks employees.

Fiat Chrysler probably has the most generous benefits of the three. The automotive company partners with Strayer University and pays upfront tuition for however many courses their employees would like to take, and for whatever degree program they are interested in. Essentially, that’s a free education for Fiat Chrysler employees.

Tuition Assistance a Sign of Confidence

At the same time, many colleges and universities have done their part by entering the adult learner market. Strayer University, for example, has partnered with over 250 different companies, offering significant tuition discounts. Other colleges and universities have created programs that cater to working adults. The rise of online education has paved the way for success, as working adults with families and full-time jobs can attend now classes on their own time.

For higher education institutions that are offering tuition assistance programs, a lot of it has to do with confidence and competition. The economy is stabilizing, which is one important factor. But companies are also starting to realize that a good employee is worth keeping. Some are willing to raise their employees’ wages and provide them with more attractive benefits packages. And they’re not wrong. Good employees are hard to come by.

As a whole, higher education for employees is a good thing. It will help the US sustain economic leadership and provide colleges and universities with the opportunity to work with different learners. Although many factors play into the onset of the brand-college partnership, we can all agree that this is one relationship that is worth pursuing.