Thousands of Florida Disney workers eligible for free college tuition

Thousands of Florida Disney workers eligible for free college tuition

Pictured: Walt Disney World theme park and resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Disney is paying college tuition for thousands of Florida-based workers and just added the University of Central Florida to the program. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

ORLANDO, Fla. — Disney announced Thursday that it is adding the University of Central Florida to its education investment program, offering free tuition to eligible employees and cast members.

The Disney Aspire program covers tuition, college courses, fees and books at no expense to students. The company said 40 percent of its 85,000 full-time and part-time hourly employees have signed up for the program since it launched in August, with more than 6,000 actively taking classes.

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The program covers 100 percent of tuition upfront and reimburses application fees and costs for required books and course materials, officials said.

“Since its launch, Disney Aspire has enabled thousands of cast members to dream bigger and reach higher,” George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort and an UCF alumnus, said.

“Adding UCF to this prestigious network of schools will provide our cast members with even more options to create the futures they imagine.”

More than 53,000 Florida-based, Disney employees will be eligible for Disney Aspire when the 2019 fall semester begins at UCF, according to a news release.

Disney employees who meet Florida resident requirements can pursue bachelor's degrees in fields that include biology, nursing and education, along with master's degrees that range from digital forensics to mechanical engineering and business, officials said.

“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.”

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