updated 3/19/2004 9:55:10 AM ET 2004-03-19T14:55:10

Ford Motor Co.'s chief executive, Bill Ford Jr., will give his first official bonus — worth about $1.5 million — to company employees for their children's college tuition.

Ford will be eligible to cash in 113,122 shares of the company's stock on March 12, 2005. It is his first official bonus since becoming CEO.

Details have not been worked out, and Ford said the money will be provided when the proceeds of the bonus are released. The company already sponsors tuition-assistance programs, which, over the last five years, have provided up to $1,500 a year to more than 25,000 dependents of Ford employees.

In an e-mail to employees Thursday, he thanked "the thousands of Ford employees in our extended family who've made our growing success possible," the Detroit Free Press reported Friday.

Ford, the great-grandson of Henry Ford, had refused to accept a salary since taking the helm of the company in 2001.

The automaker reinstated "modest" bonuses to 6,200 executives worldwide last week after the company posted a profit of $495 million in 2003. The bonuses were suspended after the company lost over $6 billion in 2001 and 2002.

It also reinstated partial contributions to employee 401(k) accounts.

Bill Ford already owns 2.7 million shares of the company's stock, contributing to his family's 40 percent controlling interest in the company. Last year, he received 4.4 million stock options.

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