Home News Dollywood Employees College Tuition: Costs for Employees Pursuing Higher Education

Dollywood Employees College Tuition: Costs for Employees Pursuing Higher Education

Dollywood Employees College Tuition
Dollywood Employees College Tuition

Dollywood Employees College Tuition generations of fans flock to Dollywood amusement park in Tennessee, where the country music icon’s Dollywood amusement park offers an unforgettable experience – from roller coasters and waterslides to luxurious lodging and extravagant dinner shows.

Dollywood Parks and Resorts can now provide its employees with an exclusive benefit: Their tuition will be covered by Parton’s company if they pursue higher education.

Herschend Enterprises, the parent company of Dollywood, announced Tuesday that Dollywood Employees College Tuition will cover 100% of tuition costs, fees, and books for employees pursuing higher education. Beginning February 24th, all 11,000 seasonal, part-time, and full-time workers at Herschend’s 25 U.S. attractions – including Dollywood – can register for the GROW U pilot program.

Employees can enroll in diploma, degree, and certificate programs offered by 30 learning partners as early as their first day of employment. Subjects covered in this higher education program include business administration/leadership, finance, marketing technology, and culinary studies.

Furthermore, the company has committed partial funding of up to $5,250 a year for 150 additional programs in engineering human resources hospitality art design fields.

According to Wes Ramey, a representative for Dollywood Co., when our hosts feel appreciated and given opportunities like this they feel cared for – a feeling which in turn, can be passed along to their guests.”

Eugene Naughton, president of Dollywood Co., told WATE that one of their core principles is “learning more.” Ramey noted that Herschend’s program affecting around 3,000 Dollywood employees had Parton’s full endorsement.

Ramey noted her boss’ support of employees learning and growing as individuals

In addition to Dollywood Employees College Tuition in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., the GROW U program extends coverage to attractions like Pink Adventure Tours in Tennessee, Arizona, and Nevada; Silver Dollar City in Missouri; and Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey.

A spokesperson for Parton directed inquiries about the program to Dollywood Employees College Tuition representatives.

Parton’s fans praised the move as some companies battle to attract and retain employees in an increasingly tight labor market.

Although tuition reimbursement had been reduced over recent years as companies sought to cut costs, large employers are beginning to offer educational incentives again in an effort to motivate workers and keep them for longer.

With college costs now averaging nearly $25,000 in 2019, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition reimbursement has become a coveted employee perk.

Major employers such as Best Buy, Chipotle, and Home Depot cover up to $5,000 of tuition costs annually; Starbucks even covers its workers’ online college degrees through Arizona State University.

In July Walmart announced it would cover college tuition and books for its 1.5 million U.S. employees; they said the company will invest nearly $1 billion over five years into career training and development programs for those aspiring to work in fields like business administration, supply chain management, or cybersecurity.

In 1986, Parton purchased the Tennessee amusement park and rebranded it as Dollywood, a 150-acre experience known for its down-home charm. Parton and Herschend Enterprises jointly own the park which Tripadvisor describes as “one of the world’s best theme parks”.

The singer, who is one of the 2022 nominees announced for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is no stranger to philanthropy.

According to Vanity Fair, The Dollywood Foundation donates more than $1 million a year to local groups in Tennessee. Parton’s Imagination Library works with communities each month to provide children with high-quality books at no cost each month.

In 2020, Parton’s friendship with a Nashville doctor led her to donate $1 million towards covid-19 research at Vanderbilt University; this contribution partially funded Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine.

Last year, she revealed that the royalties she earned from writing “I Will Always Love You,” which became a worldwide hit when Whitney Houston covered it for “The Bodyguard,” were invested in a building located in a historically Black Nashville neighborhood.

Parton shared, “When I saw Whitney at that strip mall, it felt like the perfect place for me. So, I just thought to myself: ‘This is great; I can hang out with her people who are also my people,” Parton said on Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen.”

Ramey noted that Parton popularized four principles during her 2009 commencement speech at the University of Tennessee: “Dream more, learn more, care more, and be more.” Herschend Enterprises’ program with Parton speaks directly to this idea of “learning more,” Ramey noted.

“Dolly always ensures the best for everyone involved,” he said. “Whenever she’s involved in something, Dolly makes sure everyone benefits.”

GROW U is supported by Guild Education, a company that offers similar programs to employees at major corporations such as Disney, Lowe’s, and Taco Bell.

As word of Parton’s higher education program spread on social media, fans were quick to hail her as “one of the best of us”.


Ramey reported that Dollywood Parks and Resorts is currently hiring people aged 14 or older for its 2018 operating season. If the past 24 hours are any indication, Ramey predicted there to be even greater interest among those wishing to work and pursue higher education at Dollywood and other Herschend attractions.

“Anytime Dolly is involved, it’s always exciting to witness her reaction – especially something as special as this,” he shared.

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