For Disney cast members looking to continue their education, the company’s new Aspire education investment program offers a very affordable option. Disney just announced that Central Florida’s largest higher education institution, The University of Central Florida, is now available as one of the options.
Disney Aspire education investment program, which offers 100 percent free tuition to eligible employees and cast members. It will also reimburse application fees and required books and course materials removing the worry of paying to start or continue school.
The program, which launched in August 2018 to create educational opportunities for Disney’s hourly workforce, currently counts among its participants approximately 40 percent of the Company’s 85,000 full-time and part-time hourly employees with 90 days of service. The addition of UCF to the Disney Aspire network of schools gives eligible employees even greater choice and flexibility as they pursue their dreams and fulfill their career ambitions.
“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 UCF offerings are currently available to more than 53,000 eligible Florida-based Disney employees, with the plan to expand to those outside Florida in early 2020. The 34 undergraduate and master’s degree programs include a bachelor’s degree in entertainment management, making UCF the first school within the Disney Aspire network to offer such a program. The university is also among the first to offer a master’s degree in hospitality and tourism management, which is available through the Disney Aspire program as an online course of study.
The partnership between Disney and UCF, both powerful economic engines in Orlando and across Florida, stands to benefit not just students but the regional and state economy through the continued development of a talented, educated workforce for employers. UCF, recognized as one of the nation’s most affordable and best-value universities, awards more bachelor’s degrees annually—and more degrees overall—than any other public university in the U.S.
“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.”
Last year Walt Disney World committed to increasing the starting wage for their employees to $15 an hour by 2021, which means cast members might also be able to afford the gas and car required to drive back and forth between UCF and their job.
The Disney Aspire program does offer a way for front line cast members to aspire to join the ranks of hospitality and entertainment management at Disney and other local companies. In the end that’s a benefit for Disney too. They get long term employees with a history and loyalty to the company.