Disney Cast Members Experience Job Loss & Loss of Free College Education

Credit: TheWaltDisneyCompany

2020 and COVID-19 has brought a load of uncertainty for much of the tourism workforce, and Disney is no exclusion to that. With their recent layoffs, Cast Members have been trying to find ways to get their feet back under them. While job loss weighs heavily on several Cast Members, some are also struggling with the loss of free college education.


As shared by the OrlandoSentinel: “Walt Disney Co. announced in 2018 it would pay tuition upfront — and books, too — for its hourly employees. Known as Disney Aspire, it was one of the most generous employer education programs in the country. Disney vowed to invest $150 million over five years to help lift workers out of poverty by fully funding their education.”

“Walt Disney Co. last month revealed it was ending Aspire for at least some of the 28,000 workers it is laying off across the U.S. because of the coronavirus pandemic. For some, the decision cuts deeper than missing a steady paycheck. About 20,000 part-time and full-time company employees signed up for the education program which lets them study at a list of schools, including the University of Central Florida and Valencia College.”

“While the pandemic has challenged our business and our workforce in immeasurable ways, the Disney Aspire initiative remains important to us,” Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger said in a statement. “Disney Aspire will continue to be available to our eligible employees, including those who are on furlough.”


“The hourly Disney workers who will be let go in December and have already enrolled in college degrees can finish this semester. After that, it’s over, leaving many already grappling with how to pay rent and bills to decide: How do I finish my education?”

“A short 30-minute drive from Disney World, UCF has nearly 1,000 students enrolled through Disney Aspire this semester. For those losing their jobs, spokesman Chad Binette encouraged them to contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance. “Students can speak with a financial aid counselor either in person or virtually about additional resources that may be available to help them,” Binette said, adding, “UCF is committed to helping all of our students achieve their educational goals.”


About Jamie Sylvester

I'm a Disney nerd! A kid at heart who loves the magic and memories of Walt Disney World. I follow all things Disney and enjoy the vacations, day trips, and weekend getaways, and geek out over the planning of such events. My goal is to experience as many Disney desserts and cocktails as possible! Married to another Disney nerd and blessed with a daughter and son, we thoroughly enjoy the magic at Disney and are here to help others experience the magic as well.