Today, Disney announced that the University of Central Florida (UCF) has joined its groundbreaking Disney Aspire education investment program, which offers 100 percent free tuition to eligible employees and cast members. 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.
Disney Aspire launched with an investment of $150 million and has been designed to enable Disney employees to gain confidence and grow their careers, either in potential new roles at Disney or in new fields outside of the Company. It is the most comprehensive program of its kind, covering 100 percent of tuition at in-network schools, as well as reimbursing application fees and required books and course materials—removing the worry of paying to start or continue school. Through Disney’s partnership with Guild Education, which administers the program, Disney Aspire participants receive individual coaching throughout their educational journey, from application to graduation and every step along the way. The Disney Aspire network of schools enables eligible employees and cast members to pursue undergraduate and master’s degrees, high school completion, English-language and Spanish-language learning, vocational training and more.
“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.”