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Why Walmart, Disney and so many other companies are paying for their employees’ college education

Over the past year or so, thousands of people have become eligible to attend college at low or no-cost — and that’s not thanks to a new government policy or a sudden drop in tuition levels.

It’s because major employers from McDonald’sMCD, +0.39% to DisneyDIS, -0.06% have launched or expanded programs that allow some of their employees to attend certain colleges and take certain courses on the company’s dime. Walmart WMT, +0.39%announced this month that the retail giant would extend its educational assistance benefits program to high school students. Through the program, teens working at Walmart will have access to flexible schedules, free standardized test prep and up to seven hours of free college credit.

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