It’s no secret that college is expensive. That’s especially true for people who want a degree but have family, financial, or other obligations that make going to school difficult.
That’s why Walmart has created the Walmart Live Better U program. Designed by the Walmart Corporation, Live Better U offers 100% free GED, trade school, and college degree programs to all Walmart employees.
If you work at Walmart, are considering working at Walmart, or are just curious about ways to attend college without breaking the bank, this article is for you! In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the Live Better U Walmart program, including:
- What the Live Better U program is
- How Live Better U differs from a traditional scholarship program
- What the Live Better U requirements for eligibility are
- How to sign up for Live Better U
- An overview of Live Better U reviews, and
- How to decide if you should use Live Better U
Are you ready to learn more? Then let’s jump in!
Feature Image: Walmart Inc./Walmart
What Is Live Better U?
Live Better U is Walmart’s employer-based educational benefits program. Live Better U provides a way for employees, also known as “associates,” to earn certificates and degrees that are fully paid for by the Walmart corporation. Live Better U provides online offerings for associates who wish to do any of the following:
- Complete high school
- Prep for the SAT and ACT
- Attain higher education, including bachelor’s degree programs
- Obtain skilled trade certification and career diplomas
The main goal of Live Better U is simple: to help Walmart associates earn a degree or certificate while still earning a paycheck and without the added burden of student debt. And more good news: Live Better U programs are affiliated with accredited schools and universities, so you can be confident that you’ll be getting a solid educational experience.
Additionally, Walmart says that Live Better U is designed to work around students’ work schedules, which is why all of their programs are online. As of right now, Live Better U doesn’t offer in-person classes for participating students.
One big thing you should know about Live Better U is that it doesn’t offer certificates or degrees in any and all subject fields. The website states that Live Better U provides higher educational programs that are “picked for the future of work.” To that end, most of the degrees offered are business, technical, or trade oriented. If you want to major in something like history, English, or music, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
From a cost perspective, Live Better U program offerings are either free or designed to be affordable for associates at all levels—but we’ll dig into more of those financial details in just a bit. Right now, let’s take a look at how Live Better U is different from a traditional scholarship program.
How Is Live Better U Different From a Scholarship?
Live Better U isn’t a scholarship program—it’s an employee benefits program.
That means that the Live Better U program offerings are open to almost all Walmart associates...but not to people who don’t work for Walmart! The only employees who don't qualify for the program are temporary/seasonal employees or employees who already have bachelor's degrees.
Live Better U is a benefit you receive as a Walmart employee. It’s not open to the public, and it’s not available to anyone related to Walmart employees, like children, spouses, or parents.
Also unlike a traditional scholarship, Live Better U isn’t competitive or merit based. Scholarships are normally awarded based on your high school academics, extracurriculars, or your participation in certain programs. You apply for a scholarship, and if you win it, you get that money for college.
In contrast, Live Better U is an educational program that’s open to all Walmart associates, no matter what their high school GPA or extracurriculars were. Instead, you can think of the Live Better U program as being similar to employer-offered healthcare and retirement benefits. The Live Better U educational offerings are available to associates as a benefit of their Walmart employment, but employees get to choose if and how they’d like to opt in.
Additionally, participants in Live Better U can only get the benefits offered by the program if they get their education through the program. With some scholarships, you can take the award you win and apply it to whatever college you attend. With Live Better U, you have to sign up for—and participate in—the programs offered through Live Better U.
As of 2021, Walmart is discontinuing its traditional scholarship program.
Does Walmart Still Offer Scholarships for College?
As it has turned its focus to enhancing the Live Better U program, Walmart has made the decision to discontinue its other scholarship programs.
Effective February 1, 2021, Walmart will no longer provide scholarship opportunities. These discontinuations include the Walmart Associate Scholarship and the Walmart Dependent Scholarship. However, Walmart will continue to honor all existing scholarships, including those granted in 2021, through the recipient’s completion of degree or up to four or six years.
Here’s what Walmart says about the discontinuation on the Walmart Scholarship website:
As more and more scholarship programs are made available to the public, and as Walmart has transformed its educational offerings with Live Better U, the Walmart Foundation has made the decision to discontinue the associate and dependent scholarship program effective February 1, 2021. Since inception, only about 10 percent of applicants to the program received scholarships due to IRS requirements. The Walmart Foundation will continue to focus on strategic grantmaking to organizations.
According to Walmart, Live Better U is the replacement for the scholarship program. They believe the new Live Better U program will allow more associates the opportunity to further their education than the scholarship program did.
How Much Does Live Better U Cost?
Live Better U’s high school diploma and college prep programs are completely free to associates. Anyone who participates in them won’t have to pay any out-of-pocket costs.
As of August 2021, Walmart will pay 100% of college tuition and books for associates through the Live Better U program. Previously, associates who chose to participate in Live Better U had to pay a portion of the program costs. With the changes made in 2021, all Live Better U education programs will be completely paid for by Walmart. Associates won’t have to help cover the costs!
To learn more about how these programs are financed and whether you’ll need to cover a portion of the costs, contact Live Better U for more information. Walmart occasionally makes changes to the Live Better U program offerings and financial policies, so it’s always important to do your own research too!
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for Live Better U?
Live Better U is made up of four different sub programs, each of which has its own unique requirements. To help you get an idea of which Live Better U program might be best for you, we’ll go over the main criteria for each subprogram in just a second.
First, though, we want to highlight one eligibility criterion that applies to all of the Live Better U programs: you have to be a Walmart associate! Additionally, there’s no waiting period to be eligible for Live Better U. You can start participating in this program from your first day on the job.
It’s especially important to make note of this requirement if you were interested in the now-discontinued Walmart Dependents Scholarship program. Unlike the Dependents scholarship, Live Better U benefits are open to Walmart associates only, not their family members. That means that Walmart associates’ relatives—including their children—are ineligible to participate in Live Better U.
While that may be disappointing news, a definite plus of the Live Better U program is that associates at all levels of the company are eligible, and both part- and full-time associates may participate.
Now let’s look more closely at the individual eligibility requirements for each Live Better U subprogram. We’ll cover:
- High School Completion Program Eligibility
- College Degree Eligibility
- Professional Certification and Skilled Trades Career Diploma Program Eligibility
- High School and College Prep Eligibility
You can click on the link above to jump straight to the section you’re interested in, or you can keep scrolling to learn more about everything Live Better U has to offer.
High School Completion Program Eligibility
Live Better U offers a free high school completion program for associates. This is for anyone who didn’t graduate high school but wants to complete their GED (or GED equivalent).
This program is totally online and consists of twenty-two course credits that include core academic courses and electives. Live Better U’s high school completion program is provided through Penn Foster High School. Upon completion of this program, you’ll have a high school diploma!
So what are the eligibility requirements for this high school completion program? For starters, you have to have completed the eighth grade. This shows that you’re prepared to engage in high school level coursework. The only other major requirement for this program is that you must be eighteen years old or older.
If you want to earn a bachelor's degree through Live Better U, here are the requirements you have to meet in order to be eligible.
College Degree Eligibility
Live Better U also offers multiple options for completing associate’s or bachelor’s degree online. Specific degree programs are offered through a number of partner colleges and universities (you can view a full list of partner schools here).
For instance, Live Better U participants can complete a bachelor's degree in Business Administration through Purdue University Global, or an associate’s degree in Information Technologies through Southern New Hampshire University. You can find a complete list of programs on the Live Better U website!
Each partner university determines its own eligibility criteria, so you’ll have to read through your program’s requirements to make sure you qualify. But there’s one requirement that applies to all Live Better U college degree programs: you have to have a high school diploma or equivalent.
Professional Certification and Skilled Trades Career Diploma Program Eligibility
Walmart Live Better U also offers professional certification programs that are aligned to in-demand skills. Through Penn Foster Career School and Bellevue University, Live Better U offers certifications and career diplomas in fields like pharmacy tech, industrial maintenance, people and business leadership, residential electrician, optician, construction, facilities maintenance, and plumbing.
By enrolling in a Live Better U professional certification program, you’ll have the chance to take a series of courses to gain expertise in a new skill or profession. To be eligible for all Live Better U professional certification and career diploma opportunities, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent.
High School and College Prep Eligibility
Live Better U also offers free college prep programs to associates. Live Better U offers two college prep programs: College Start for High School Students, and College Start College Prep.
College Start for High School Students doesn’t have any prerequisites. It’s an online college prep program designed specifically for Walmart associates who are still in high school! This program focuses on learning college success strategies and two general education courses to earn up to seven college credits.
To be eligible for the College Start College Prep program, you have to have a high school diploma or equivalent. This college prep program is designed for students who have little to no higher education experience, especially if they graduated high school a while ago. So if you graduated high school, spent a few years in the workforce, and now want to prepare to go back to college...this is the program for you! This program focuses on refreshing your knowledge, developing your core educational competencies, and building the confidence to succeed in college.
These programs both go hand-in-hand with Live Better U’s SAT/ACT test prep services. If you’re planning to attend a college program that requires standardized test scores, you can access study materials and coursework for free as a Walmart employee!
Finally, this prep-based subprogram also offers ESL/Language Learning classes for employees whose first language is not English. These classes can be used to get ready for one of their other degree programs, or simply to improve your English communication skills.
How Do You Sign Up for Live Better U?
Signing up for Live Better U is pretty simple! The sign-up process is online, and the links to sign-up for each of the different Live Better U programs are consolidated on a single website. You can explore program offerings and find the links to sign up for individual programs on Walmart’s Live Better U website.
When you select a program to sign up for online, you’ll be directed to sign in using your Walmart associate ID, your country or region, and location. This means that you already have to be a Walmart employee to sign up for Live Better U.
In addition to signing up for Live Better U, you’ll have to submit an online application to the specific degree program you want to complete. This applies specifically to the Live Better U college degree and professional certification programs. To complete these separate applications, you’ll be asked to enter your employer name—so, Walmart—and then follow the step-by-step instructions provided.
For example, if you want to complete a bachelor’s of science in business administration through the University of Florida, you’ll have to first sign up for Live Better U, then fill out a separate application to this degree program.
The main takeaway about signing up for Live Better U is that you have to be a Walmart employee and have an employee ID before you’re eligible to sign up. Once you do, you’ll need to apply to your specific program as well.
What Real Users Say: Live Better U Reviews
Many Walmart associates have already had the chance to complete an educational program through Live Better U. By reading real users’ Live Better U reviews, you can get a sense of the practical benefits and drawbacks of this unique educational offering.
In general, Walmart associates who have used Live Better U claim that it’s a great fit for people who are working and have busy lives. Associates praise the affordability of the programs that previously shared some employee cost as well. (As of August 2021, Walmart covers 100% of educational costs.)
For example, Daniel Clemons, a Walmart associate in Highland, Illinois, signed up to complete a bachelor’s degree through Live Better U. Being out of school for fourteen years with a family and full-time job, Clemons says about his experience with Live Better U:
I signed up as soon as I could. All my siblings have degrees, and I always planned to get one, but the cost and a growing family held me back. I was inspired by my wife. She was a new mom with a full-time job, and fitting in the studying was difficult. But Live Better U offered me a far more flexible schedule. Live Better U is a great program. I’m really enjoying it. And my wife loves the fact that I’m finally able to go back to school without having to cut my hours or make any real sacrifices to further my education.
Clemons found that Live Better U made it possible for him to balance family life, a full-time job, and college coursework without making major sacrifices.
For employees who want to build a career through Walmart, reviewers say that Live Better U provides excellent professional development and skills training. At the same time, many associates have found that completing a Live Better U Walmart education program has equipped them with the skills and experience they needed to get a job elsewhere.
For instance, Ashli Palmer, a Walmart associate in Hermiston, Oregon, was one of the first associates to receive a bachelor’s degree through Walmart Live Better U. Palmer started working as an overnight stocker at Walmart at age 20. Now, more than fifteen years later, Palmer has graduated with a bachelor’s degree in supply chain, transportation, and logistics management. Palmer says the following about her experience getting a bachelor’s degree through Live Better U:
I push this program to everyone, because it’s designed for people who are working and have lives. They made it so easy for working professionals, at such a great cost [. . . ] I now have friends from all across the country that I’ve worked on projects with. Anytime we invest in ourselves and broaden our thinking, it makes us better.
Other associates found Live Better U to be challenging. Angela Deen, an associate in Goodyear, Arizona, emphasizes that completing a bachelor’s degree through Live Better U is tough, but worth it in the long run. Deen says:
The Live Better U program is a big deal. It took me a while to realize there wasn’t a catch. [. . .] There were some rough points, but it’s a college degree. It’s not supposed to be easy. There were some tough classes and some very challenging experiences with them. I spent a lot of my days off doing homework, just trying to make it through the course and do it the best I could. It has been a good experience. It has broadened my horizons and it’s given me a lot of confidence. Just getting the degree by itself has given me the confidence to pursue other things.
The overall takeaway from these Live Better U reviews is that they provide opportunities for associates who are willing to work their way through the program. For some associates, Live Better U gave them the confidence to keep pursuing their goals and taking on new challenges in their professional lives.
Should You Use Live Better U?
Now that you’ve received a crash course in the Live Better U educational program offerings, you might be wondering if Live Better U would be a good fit for you. Here are some things you should keep in mind before you decide to enroll in Live Better U.
Plan Your Employment Accordingly
We’ve said it a million times, but it bears repeating: only Walmart employees can participate in Live Better U. That means you’ll have to stay employed with Walmart if you want to complete the degree program you’ve started.
Bachelor’s degrees usually take a few years to finish. You’ll have to remain an associate during that time to finish your degree program. Additionally, it’s not clear whether the credits you earn as part of Live Better U will transfer to another institution if you decide to leave Walmart and finish your degree elsewhere. So if you’re hoping to find a new job soon, it’s probably not a good idea to start a Live Better U degree.
The Program Requires Commitment
Live Better U is designed for adult learners who are ready to commit to higher education. Completing an educational program through Live Better U requires effective time management skills and resilience. Juggling a part- or full-time job, personal responsibility, and an education isn’t necessarily a cakewalk!
As you saw in the reviews above, Live Better U degree programs are designed to be tough, just like an in-person college course. If you feel that you’re ready to tackle a college degree—including all the studying that comes with it!—then Live Better U might be a great option for you.
Not Everything Is Free
It’s also important to acknowledge that, while most offerings are free, some Live Better U college degree and professional certification programs may have a few costs. Live Better U pays for 100% of your tuition and fees, but certain programs could require materials (like books and software) that aren’t covered for you.
For Walmart associates who don’t have the financial means to contribute to paying for their education, Live Better U still might not be accessible. Though Walmart encourages associates to participate in Live Better U, it’s important to make sure you’re ready to deal with the financial commitment that could come with certification and degree programs.
Program Options Are Limited
It’s also important to acknowledge that Walmart’s Live Better U college program offers a limited number of majors. Many colleges and universities offer hundreds of majors that you can choose from, but that’s not the case with Live Better U. The college majors offered through Live Better U are closely tied to the industries that Walmart participates in. That means that most of your degree program options through Live Better U will be related to business, management, technology, or economics.
However, in 2021, Live Better U added some new degree programs to its offerings, including business administration, supply chain, and cybersecurity. And, more good news: Walmart intends to continue expanding its degree options to provide access to high-demand degree programs. This means that it’s important to do your research and check back in with Live Better U each year to see if exciting new options have been added!
Are you curious about other ways you can pay for college? Be sure to read through our complete guide to funding your degree for lots of helpful information.
While Live Better U isn’t a scholarship program, there are lots of actual scholarships you can apply for—and win!—to make college more affordable. Our experts will teach you how to find scholarships that fit your eligibility criteria.
And don’t miss out on our big lists of scholarship opportunities! We update these regularly to make sure you have up-to-date information on available awards. Start by browsing through this list of full ride scholarships, then browse our blog for more posts!
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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.