As the cost of college keeps rising, many companies are offering to pay for education as a workplace perk in an effort to attract and retain workers. And several companies recently announced they’re expanding existing college tuition programs.
McDonald’s and Taco Bell are among the companies that are offering more money and making it easier to be eligible for the programs.
McDonald’s Archways to Opportunity Program
In March, McDonald’s announced it will allocate $150 million, including the tripling of tuition assistance, to its Archways to Opportunity education program over a five-year period. The Archways to Opportunity program changes were driven partially by recent U.S. tax law changes. They will be effective on May 1, 2018, and retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018.
Launched in 2015, the Archways to Opportunity program provides eligible U.S. workers educational opportunities such as earning high school diplomas, obtaining college tuition assistance upfront, accessing free education advisement services, and learning English as a second language. Around 400,000 U.S. restaurant employees have access to the program, and since its inception McDonald’s has spent more than $21 million for high school and college tuition assistance, helping 24,000 people. Employees have obtained college degrees in accounting, business administration, communications, human resources, and microbiology.
Eligible crew members will receive $2,500 annually, up from $700; managers will have access to $3,000 per year, up from $1,050. Participants can apply funds for community colleges, four-year universities, or trade schools. There is no time limit on tuition assistance, so employees may pursue their education and career interests on their own timelines.
Also new is that workers will have a 90-day employed requirement, down from nine months. Employees will have to work a minimum of 15 hours per week, down from a 20-hour requirement.
Beyond that, employees’ family members will have access to Career Online High School and College Advisory services through McDonald’s educational partners including Cengage and Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).
Taco Bell’s Expanded Tuition Plan
Taco Bell also announced in March it will provide tools, resources, and money for its employees who want to further their education. To do so, it plans to widen the scope of a pilot program which it began last year. The program, in which they partner with Guild Education, will help the fast food restaurant’s 210,000 employees get the educational degrees and certificates they seek.
It gives Taco Bell employees the chance to work with Guild Education’s academic advisors, financial aid personnel, and college advisors. It also provides tuition discounts for a wide variety of classes, degrees, and certificates.
Included in the mix are 80 online nonprofit universities and places of learning, which can help employees obtain the degree they seek, whether it’s an advanced degree like a master’s degree or something more basic like a GED. Employees can even get assistance finding an English-as-a-second-language course.
Taco Bell implemented the program after a survey revealed it was something employees really wanted.
“When we surveyed our employees, education support was one of the top three things they asked for,” Frank Tucker, Taco Bell Global Chief People Officer, told Black Enterprise.
The tuition assistance offered by Taco Bell is considerable. Workers can receive up to $5,250 annually, and the money is paid upfront.
What Other Companies Offer College Funding?
Tuition assistance is becoming more commonplace. And as the economy grows stronger, it may be something more workplaces start to implement. This could be a welcome trend, as these programs can potentially help students reduce their need to borrow for their education or avoid going into student loan debt entirely.
That was one of the driving forces behind Lyft’s new pilot program to help its employees pursue their education goals. Lyft, a transportation company based in Silicon Valley, also partnered with Guild Education for its pilot program. This program helps drivers save anywhere from 5 percent to 20 percent on of their education costs.
If prospective employees are looking for places to work that offer tuition assistance, they have a lot of companies to choose from, although some policies will be more generous than others. Companies such as UPS, Publix, Starbucks, Bank of America, Verizon, and Chipotle are just some of the workplaces that have tuition reimbursement programs in place.
Author: Andrew Rombach
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