100 percent tuition-paid upfront, college courses for Disney Cast Members; cost of fees and books covered at no cost to employees
ORLANDO, FLA., May 23, 2019 – Today, Disney announced the addition of the University of Central Florida (UCF) to its groundbreaking Disney Aspire education investment program, which offers 100 percent free tuition to eligible employees and Cast Members. Disney and UCF are teaming up to expand educational opportunities for Disney’s hourly workforce, making it easier for them to pursue their dreams and fulfill their career ambitions.
Since launching last August, approximately 40 percent of Disney’s 85,000 full-time and part-time hourly employees with 90 days of service have signed up for Disney Aspire and more than 6,000 are actively taking classes. Disney’s investment of $150 million enables its employees to gain confidence and grow their careers – including potential new roles at Disney and careers outside of the company.
The most comprehensive program of its kind, Disney Aspire covers 100 percent of tuition upfront, and will also reimburse application fees and required books and course materials, removing the worry of paying to start or continue school.
“Since its launch, Disney Aspire has enabled thousands of Cast Members to dream bigger and reach higher,” said George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort and a UCF alumnus. “Adding UCF to this prestigious network of schools will provide our Cast Members with even more options to create the futures they imagine.”
The collaboration is a natural fit between UCF and Disney since both institutions are powerful economic engines in Orlando and across Florida. It also strengthens UCF’s already recognized position as one of the nation’s most affordable and best-value universities.
“We could not be more excited to be working with Disney to make a high-quality college degree even more accessible,” UCF Interim President Thad Seymour, Jr. said. “Many of our students already are Disney employees who will immediately benefit, and this program has the potential to change lives in our community for generations.”
To help administer the program, Disney has partnered with Guild Education, a market leader in providing higher education opportunities designed for working adults. Through Guild, Disney Aspire includes a network of schools that offer a wide array of disciplines and diplomas, including undergraduate and master’s degrees, high school completion, English-language and Spanish-language learning, vocational training and more. Disney Aspire offers convenience and flexibility, with individual coaching provided by Guild to help students every step of the way from application through graduation.
More than 53,000 Florida-based Disney employees will be eligible when the UCF offerings begin this fall 2019 semester. Disney employees who gain admission to UCF, and meet in-state residency requirements, will be able to choose from 34 undergraduate and master’s degree programs – including 10 that are fully online. Cast Members may pursue bachelor’s degrees in fields that range from biology to nursing to education, along with master’s degrees that range from digital forensics to mechanical engineering, to business. UCF will be the first school within the Disney Aspire network to offer a bachelor’s degree in entertainment management, and among the first to offer a master’s degree in hospitality and tourism management, which is available online.
This new collaboration will benefit current and future Knights. Many UCF students already work at Disney and so do many other students at state colleges in the region who are in the pipeline to transfer to UCF through the DirectConnect to UCF program.
A college degree is a powerful tool for transforming lives through social and economic mobility. Those with a bachelor’s degree earn an average of 65 percent more than those who only complete high school, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In addition to the financial benefit for students, the partnership also helps UCF continue to drive the regional and state economy by supplying a talented, educated workforce for employers. UCF awards more bachelor’s degrees annually – and more degrees overall – than any other public university in the nation.
To sign up or learn more, Disney employees can visit aspire.disney.com.