A degree is a wish your heart makes: How to use Disney's new tuition program

All hourly Disney employees eligible, with some prerequisites


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – If you're a Disney employee looking to go to school, every dream you've wished might be coming true.

Disney announced in August that employees have the opportunity to apply for college tuition reimbursement through a new program called Disney Aspire. As many as 80,000 hourly workers could potentially be eligible for the program. Disney will cover 100 percent of the tuition up front, including other fees and textbooks.

Disney spokesperson Debbie Mookini said the program was designed with working adults in mind. Its intention is to aid Disney employees who "face unique circumstances that come with balancing school, life and work." 

In January, Disney said that the new education program would cost $50 million. The company also announced in August that it will be raising all nontipped hourly employee's wages to $15 per hour, minimum, by 2021.

If you're looking to find your own fairy-tale ending that includes a college degree, getting employed at Disney is just the first step. The process of applying for Disney Aspire and then receiving reimbursement does contain prerequisites. All information below came from Mookini and the Walt Disney Co. website.

When can employees start using the program?

Employees at Walt Disney World can begin enrolling in classes starting on Tuesday. Employees at Disneyland in California and other U.S. locations were able to begin enrolling in August.
Will there be a limit to how many classes/credit hours a student can take per semester?

The program will only cover the cost of one bachelor's degree or a first master's degree. Within the degree program, however, whatever classes are required for fulfillment will be covered.

What makes a cast member eligible to apply for the program?

Any hourly employee based in the U.S. is eligible to apply for Disney Aspire after 90 days of working at Disney. This is valid for both part-time and full-time employees.

What are the steps involved in applying for the program?

After working for the company for the three-month minimum, Disney employees can apply for Disney Aspire through Guild Education. Guild Education's website states that it has over 80 universities and programs available for online access. As of now, the only available programs for Disney employees' education are these online programs. Mookini said Guild Education will also offer academic coaching for enrolled students. 

Mookini said that as Disney Aspire grows, it will add new programs, schools, classes and other features. It's currently unclear as to whether that will include in-person universities and colleges.