Truckload carrier U.S. Xpress Enterprises, Inc. said today it will offer free college tuition, books and fees to its drivers and family members, the latest effort by truckers to attract and retain qualified drivers amidst a very tight labor market for big fleets.
The program, called "Full Ride," will be offered in conjunction with Ashford University, an online for- profit university headquartered in San Diego. Drivers and family members can obtain bachelors or masters degrees on US Xpress' dime; their only cost will be a computer or other device as well as an Internet connection, Chattanooga-based US Xpress said.
Each driver can have two family members enrolled at one time—either a driver and a dependent or two dependents. Dependents must be between the ages of 17 and 26 to be eligible, US Xpress said.
The company said it does not believe any other motor carrier offers free tuition, books and fees to drivers and eligible family members. Several carriers will offer free driving school tuition, or will reimburse drivers for tuition expense upon graduation.
Historically, drivers that had just obtained their commercial licenses would have to stay a few years with the company that had paid their way through driving school. In recent years as labor supply has tightened, many companies have waived that requirement in order to not engender ill will with their driver workforce.