Adding yet another recruitment and retention benefit to its lineup, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced Tuesday an expanded college tuition assistance program for eligible employees.
Starting next month, the fast-casual chain will cover all upfront tuition costs for 75 different business and technology degrees at select universities, through a partnership with education benefits company Guild Education. Employees are eligible for the program after 120 days of employment.
The program expands upon Chipotle’s Cultivate Education initiative, which has provided $20 million in tuition assistance over the past two years, according to the Newport Beach, Calif.-based company.
“Chipotle recognizes that financial barriers can be one of the biggest obstacles that impede our employees from achieving their fullest potential,” Marissa Andrada, chief people officer at Chipotle, said in a statement. “We are proud to launch this opportunity for debt-free degrees by providing free tuition to help our employees excel in all areas in their lives, both in and out of Chipotle.”
Chipotle also offers a tuition reimbursement program, allowing eligible employees to be paid back for up to $5,250 a year in tuition at the school of their choice. Two-thirds of those enrolled in the program are first-generation college students, according to Guild Education.
With unemployment reaching historic lows, a growing number of chains are adding educational benefits and other perks to attract and keep employees. Last year, McDonald’s announced plans to invest $150 million over five years in education programs for workers. Starbucks also offers a tuition reimbursement benefit.
In June, Chipotle launched a program to reward employees with an extra week of pay each quarter for outstanding performance. In August, the chain said that more than 2,600 workers from 135 restaurants qualified for the bonus.
Chipotle has more than 2,500 restaurants around the world and more than 80,000 employees.