By Marcella Shandor —

Students who work at UPS will soon have fatter wallets thanks to a new employer contract ratified Oct. 5.

University of Louisville students worried about the hardships of student loans have the unique option to pay for their education through the Metropolitan College program. Metro College is a partnership between U of L, UPS, Kentucky and Metro Louisville.

“With Metro College, it’s truly possible to graduate debt-free,” UPS Workforce Development Manager Pat Murphy said.

Students work at night as package handlers at Worldport, the UPS air hub at Louisville International Airport. In exchange, UPS pays full tuition and a book stipend and a normal wage of $10.35 per hour. There are also bonuses available of up to $13,850 over the course of a four-year undergraduate degree.

“We need good employees we can depend on, and Metro College is a great incentive,” UPS Public Relations Manager Jim Mayer said.

Mayer said about 2,200 students at U of L and Jefferson Community and Technical College currently are part of the program. He said UPS has invested more than $100 million in tuition payments to the two schools since 1998.

Isaiah Davis, a chemistry major at U of L and 10-year veteran at UPS, uses the full tuition assistance through Metro College. He said working the night shift means UPS can pay for 100 percent of Kentucky residents’ tuition at these schools.

“You have to be part-time or full-time at UPS in which you sign a contract stating you are going to work there from certain dates, and they will cover school tuition as well as other bonuses for passing certain milestones in college and graduation bonuses,” Davis said.

Mayer said students can study any field, and contracts are semester-to-semester. Students can leave the program, and return later, based on the requirements of their degree.

“For example, if you have to student-teach for a semester and can’t handle working at night and teaching all day, that’s okay,” Mayer said. “Finish out your current semester here at UPS, go do your student teaching, and we’ll be happy to have you back in the program when you’re finished.”

As UPS package handlers, all employees, including U of L students, have the option to join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union.

Since Kentucky is a right-to-work state, joining the union is not mandatory, but wages and benefits are the same for all employees.

“Most people choose to be in the union due to the benefits that the union offers. A lot of new hires who initially chose not to be in the union, have changed their mind and decided to eventually join once they have seen the benefits that were covered,” Davis said.

The current starting wage is $10.35 per hour, which will increase to $13 per hour once a new union contract is implemented.

Tuition assistance varies based on shift.

“The Metro College program is only available to employees working the night shift at Worldport,” Murphy said.

Students who work during the day are eligible for UPS’s Earn & Learn program, which provides up to $5,250 per year in tuition reimbursement.

Alexia Juarez, a sophomore at U of L, has been working for UPS for a little over a year.

“It is very physically and mentally demanding and takes patience,” Juarez said.

For more information on the Metro College program, go to To apply for a position at UPS, go to

Photo Courtesy / U of L