WORCESTER — Qualifying Amazon hourly workers attending Quinsigamond Community College will receive prepaid tuition assistance after the city school was selected as an education partner for Amazon's Career Choice program.
Amazon will prepay $5,250 in tuition for full-time employees who have worked for the company at least 90 days; part-time employees will receive $2,625 in prepaid tuition for the school year.
"We're just really excited about the opportunity that this provides for our working students to not have to make a choice between work or school," said QCC Associate Vice President for Strategic Academic and Workforce Initiative Kathy Rentsch. "With the support of Amazon, they can continue toward their career aspirations and that's a really exciting development for us and for our students."
The money is "significant," Rentsch said. A single, three-credit course at QCC costs approximately $1,000 and 70% of students enrolled at the West Boylston Street community college this fall were part-time.
Amazon employees will be eligible for the assistance as long as they remain at the company; there is no limit to the number of years they can receive the benefit.
Rentsch said she applied during the summer for QCC to become an education partner with Amazon. The company has been working with the school since July to ensure that QCC meets all the required criteria.
The criteria, she said, was set by Amazon and had to do with the institution's focus on helping employees enrolled at the school complete their education programs, assistance with job placements and "overall offering education that leads to career success."
Additionally, the company seeks partners that are located in areas with a high concentration of Amazon employees, which helped QCC as it is situated within a "reasonable commuting distance" to several Amazon locations.
Fewer than 10 students started to have tuition and fees covered by Amazon before the partnership announcement was made Monday, she said.
"We were live as an education partner on the Amazon portal for their employees sooner than our website and our press release was ready to go out," Rentsch said. "We've already had students in the pipeline who have made requests to be have their tuition and fees covered, which Amazon has already done."
The college said it does not know how many Amazon employees are currently enrolled because it does not collect information on its students' employers.
Rentsch said she hopes the close proximity of QCC to the future Amazon Distribution Warehouse at the former Greendale Mall will help draw more students to the school.
"We're hoping that if people hadn't considered going to college before — or hadn't really looked at QCC yet — now that we're in the neighborhood, we're hoping that that'll spark some interest," she said.
While QCC is not the first to partner with Amazon for this program, it is the first in the Central Massachusetts region.
Nearby participating New England schools include:
Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology
Bristol Community College
Community College of Rhode Island
University of Connecticut
Capital Community College
Manchester Community College
Manchester Community College
Southern New Hampshire University
Those eligible and interested in making the request can do so through the Amazon Career Choice portal.
This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Amazon employees get tuition paid at Quinsigamond Community College