Washington D.C. may be doing its best to ignore them, but there are currently 45 millions Americans who own a collective $1.7 trillion in student loans. Dolly Parton, on the other hand, is doing her part to stop those staggering numbers from growing any bigger. As if working at Dollywood didn’t sound great enough, the company behind the 76-year-old icon’s Tennessee theme park will soon offer one of the best of perks: the ability to attend college for free. Starting later this month, Dollywood Parks & Resorts will cover 100 percent of tuition fees “for any employee who chooses to pursue further education.” Better yet, those notoriously pricey text books are included. (You’re on your own when it comes to dorms.) All of this from the woman who already helped fund part of the research that laid to the Moderna vaccine.
“When our hosts strive to grow themselves, it makes our business and our community a truly better place,” Dollywood Company president Eugene Naughton said in a statement on Tuesday. “We care about our hosts’ development and we want their future to grow because of love—not loans.” It’s not an entirely selfless move: The smarter their employees are, the better their performance. The longer they stay on to complete their degrees, the less turnover for Dollywood. And the more tuitions they cover, the more they get back in tax benefits.
Even skeptics can’t deny the most obvious plus side to paying their employees’ bills: It all makes for good publicity. Dolly fans are out in full force on Twitter, which means once again campaigning for Parton to take over as president. As one user summed up the response, “Dolly Parton seems to have waited an appropriate amount of time after the passing of Betty White and is now hot in pursuit of becoming The American Loved and Admired By Everyone.”