Is it possible to go to college for only $250 a year? It is if you work for Chipotle. Even better: That benefit is available for both part-time and full-time staffers.
You may be surprised to learn that Chipotle has one of the most-generous tuition reimbursement programs in the country right now for people who would like to earn their degree. The program allows benefits-eligible workers to earn their bachelor's or master's degree, their GED, or to study English as a second language. And get this: Some benefits are even open to staffers' family members. Let's dig into the details.
People are often surprised to find out that so many companies offer tuition reimbursement. In fact, the Society of Human Resources Management estimates that about 54% of employers offer the benefit. But there are three good reasons why companies do this:
- Investing in their workforce is more cost-effective than hiring from the outside. Think about it: Cultivating smart, conscientious employees who can expand their skillsets allows companies to reduce productivity drains and recruiting costs. Plus, many employers recognize the value of institutional knowledge that is retained when employees stay at the same company for a period of years.
- It reduces turnover. Treating employees well by offering standout benefits is a powerful incentive for people to stay.
- It makes financial sense. Employers can take a tax deduction of $5,250 per employee for tuition reimbursement. So not only are companies getting better-educated workers, they're reducing their tax burden at the same time. Win-win for employees and employer.
Interested in Chipotle's program? Here's what you need to know.
1. Get hired at Chipotle
With about 2,500 locations, there's a good bet there's a Chipotle somewhere near you. The easiest way to search for job openings is to look at Chipotle's online job portal. There, you can search for jobs by location (including town or state), type of work (including a variety of store or professional positions), or keyword. Keep in mind that tuition reimbursement is available to everyone who works at Chipotle, whether your position is a line cook or an accountant.
If you don't see what you're looking for right away, sign up for job alert email updates so you can get a leg up on the competition. Also, if you have a LinkedIn profile, you can connect it to Chipotle and get matched up with relevant jobs. All of this can be done through the online job portal.
2. Become benefits-eligible
In general, Chipotle employees become benefits-eligible after 30 days of employment. However, tuition reimbursement takes a little bit longer to kick in. You'll need to work at least 15 hours per week for a period of four months.
3. Check out the Chipotle "Cultivate Me" Plan
Chipotle has partnered with a company called Guild Education to create the Cultivate Me education plan. Guild is company that works with non-profit schools to provide college assistance as an employee benefit.
Through the Cultivate Me Plan at Chipotle, qualified workers can:
- Earn a bachelor's or master's degree
- Earn a General Education Development (GED)
- Study English as a second language
Chipotle will reimburse workers up to $5,250 annually. Staffers may also qualify for federal aid through the FAFSA (max amount is $5,815). Between these two benefits, the restaurant chain states that workers can complete a degree for as little as $250 per year.
Employees can also earn college credits for on-the-job experience, receiving up to 44 college credits. That's worth about $15,400—just for showing up for work. Not too shabby.
4. Pick your program of study
Could this program get any better? Believe it or not, yes.
Chipotle has recently expanded its program to allow staffers to attend any accredited school or program, not just those affiliated with Guild Education. This a new feature of the program—prior to this spring, students could only get reimbursed for online study at a select number of schools. But now, the field is wide open.
That means that your college or trade school will paid for, whether your dream is to remain in the restaurant industry or not. This is an excellent perk, as many companies have limitations on what workers are allowed to study.
Psst ... if you're already in college, why not use the Chipotle job portal link above and see how many Chipotle stores are near your college campus?
If you'd like to go to school online, keep in mind that it's a great way to help maintain the balance between work, life, and school—especially if you're working full-time and/or you have caretaking responsibilities that impact into your schedule.
You can pick your preferred online school, or select one of Guild's online partner schools, including:
- Bellevue University
- Brandman University
- University of Denver
- University of Florida
- Wilmington University
5. Invite your family to study, too
Get this: Chipotle has just extended education benefits to some family members of employees as well.
GED certificates and English as a second language programs are now available to employees’ families, including parents, spouses, siblings, domestic partners, and dependents.
6. Utilize additional resources
Since Chipotle is investing in its employees, it has a vested interest in ensuring that people succeed. The company also provides personal success coaches, who can help secure financial aid, choose classes, or deal with any education-related issues.
7. Enjoy other benefits
Beyond the extremely-generous tuition-assistance program, Chipotle has one of the most-robust benefits packages in the restaurant industry. Hourly and salaried workers may be eligible for:
- Paid sick leave
- Paid vacation
- Medical, dental, and vision insurance
- Matching 401(k) program
- An employee stock-purchase plan
- Potential for twice-annual merit increases
- Potential for annual bonus
Want to find other ways to reduce your college costs? Check out Here's the Secret to Getting a Cheap Bachelor's Degree Online.