Years ago, Clark got a job with IBM as a bill collector after college because he knew they would pay for his master’s degree.
‘I had to pay for my own books and I had to get a B or better in a course or I’d get no reimbursement. You better believe I got a 3.9 GPA in my first quarter in grad school,’ Clark says. ‘I never got less than a B during the rest of the time there because I wanted the tuition paid for my master’s in business management. Thanks, IBM!
Today, you’ll find several employers who are transforming the idea of a fast food restaurant job being a dead end into a viable option for young people to get their college tuition paid for free.
With tuition reimbursement programs, you typically have to foot the bill for your semester’s tuition upfront and then you get a reimbursement in your payroll.
Here’s a look at who offers what…
These fast food employers will help you get a college degree
This tuition-reimbursement offer is for hourly workers who have 12 months of continuous employment under their belt. Employees get 90% of tuition, books and fees reimbursed by Chipotle — up to the IRS limit of $5,250 per calendar year.
Salaried workers get the same offer, but there is no requirement for them to put 12 months in before they can take advantage of this benefit.
Kentucky Fried Chicken
For hourly team members and shift supervisors with at least six months of service, KFC offers the REACH Educational Grant Program.
The program provides college tuition assistance via grants of $2,000 and $2,500. Grant recipients can attend any accredited two-year or four-year college or a trade/vocational school.
Winners are selected by a competitive application process and may reapply each year.
The Archways to Opportunity program has two tracks: One track is for full-time restaurant manager or staff of a participating franchise owner/operator. Under this plan, you get $1,050 in tuition reimbursement each year if you work a minimum of 30 hours per week.
The second track is for restaurant crew (including maintenance), part-time manager or part-time office staff of a participating franchise owner/operator. Under this plan you are eligible for $700 in tuition reimbursement each year if you’ve worked with the same franchise owner/operator for at least nine consecutive months and you work an average of 20 hours per week.
Through a partnership with Excelsior College, Pizza Hut offers the Life Unboxed EDU program. Excelsior offers a 45% undergraduate and 15% graduate tuition discount for Pizza Hut employees and immediate family members.
But wait, there’s more! ‘On top of the discount, Pizza Hut will pay up to $5,250 per year in tuition, books and fees for each salaried, full-time corporate employee participating in the program,’ according to The Street. ‘Payments are made upfront by Pizza Hut as opposed to being reimbursed later.’
Through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, the company will pay half your tuition for the freshman and sophomore years.
If you matriculate and make it to junior year, they then offer full tuition reimbursement for both junior and senior year. This carrot is being offered in partnership with Arizona State and their online curriculum, which features 50 fields of study for Starbucks employees to choose from.
To qualify, Starbucks employees are only required to work a minimum of 20 hours a week; there is no minimum length of service time required to qualify. Perhaps best of all, there is no handcuff requiring you to stay with the company after graduation.
Similar to the partnership Pizza Hut has with Excelsior College, Taco Bell’s Feed My Dream program also offers tuition reimbursement. Employees receive a 45% discount on tuition for themselves and for immediate family members.