Can't afford college? Go work for Dollywood, which is offering the greatest gift of all: tuition

The legendary singer's theme park has previously given back to its employees with an assortment of benefits

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published February 10, 2022 5:50PM (EST)

Dolly Parton (David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Dolly Parton (David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Sure, Biden is doing his part to pause repayments on student loans, but Dolly Parton asks, "What if there were no loans in the first place?"

We can always count on the iconic "I Will Love You" singer to come to offer aid without being asked. Parton, who notably helped fund the Moderna vaccine during COVID's peak, has a new initiative to make people's lives easier.

Parton's theme park, Dollywood, announced Wednesday that it will cover full tuition, fees and book costs for all employees pursuing higher education. The tuition coverage plan, called "Herschend's GROW U.," is available to seasonal, part-time and full-time employees on their very first day of work. It will officially launch on Feb. 24.

"Herschend's GROW U. is not only a significant and transformational investment in our employee's growth but also our love culture in action," said Andrew Wexler, CEO of Herschend Enterprises, in a recent press release. 

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The plan will offer more than 100 fully funded diploma, degree and certificate programs through Guild's Learning Marketplace, including business administration and leadership, culinary, finance, technology and marketing. Partial funding of up to $5,250 per year will be provided for additional programs in hospitality, engineering, human resources and art design.

While Parton's generosity has been proven time and again, this move demonstrates how in tune she is to the difficulties facing would-be students. Most can't afford the astronomical cost of college, where accruing massive debt on student loans for decades is expected these days, and for new students or those wanting to pivot from their current careers, the cost are often prohibitive. 

This isn't the first time the theme park is giving back to its employees. Dollywood's detailed "benefits & perks" plan touts complimentary ticket passes, discounted meals, low-cost healthcare and plenty more.  

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"Whether it's to pursue a new dream or advance their career with us, we care about our employees' personal and professional growth, because we believe that their futures should be grown with love, not loans," Wexler added. "Our team members' success is our success – and that's why we're thrilled to make this benefit available to all, regardless of their role in the company and without the burden of debt."

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By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon. She writes about food news and trends and their intersection with culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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Brief College Dolly Parton Dollywood