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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is expanding a program that offers free college educations to all employees and family members of its U.S. dealerships.

The program, called Degrees@Work, was originally announced in May for the automaker’s 356 dealers in the southeast U.S. It will now include all of its more than 180,000 employees and their immediate families at its 2,635 dealerships across the country.

Degrees@Work is a partnership with Virginia-based Strayer University. It allows employees of participating Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram and Fiat dealerships to enroll in individual classes as well as associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs at “no-cost, no-debt” to the employees.

Of the 356 original dealerships, 129 dealers, or 36 percent, have signed up for the voluntary program. Nearly 400 employees are enrolled and actively taking classes in the program.

FCA US, formerly Chrysler Group LLC, shares the cost of the program with the dealers, who must pay an undisclosed flat monthly fee, regardless of the number of their employees who take classes. The company would not release exact financial details.

Employees can enroll in online courses or on-campus classes at one the post-secondary institution’s more than 75 campuses, located in 15 states and the District of Columbia. John Fox, FCA US director of dealer training, previously told The Detroit News that most of the participating employees likely will be enrolling in online course

The goals of the program, according to Fox, are to reward employees who have helped the company achieve more than five years of monthly, year-over-year sales gains; attract new talent, while improving the skills of existing employees; and significantly increase employee retention.

The courses can be customized to prioritize and accelerate skill development in critical job functions.

mwayland@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2504

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