McD’s Lowers Barriers, Triples Benefits of Tuition Assistance for Employees

McDonald’s sometimes gets a bad rap as a workplace.

But while the global fast-food chain doesn’t have to work too hard to keep its patrons’ affection, thanks to that value menu and those golden, crispy, salty fries, the company has realized that as one of the largest employers in the world (with about 1.5 million workers), it has a responsibility to better the lives of the people it employs.

This week, the company announced it would bump up its tuition-assistance program for employees — and make those funds easier to get ahold of.

McDonald’s Tuition Assistance Program to Expand

In April of 2015, the company launched its tuition assistance program, “Archways to Opportunity.”

The program aims to help all employees, whether at franchised or company-owned locations, improve their English skills, earn a high school diploma, work toward a college degree and generally to make “an education plan for success.”

Since the program was rolled out, more than 24,000 employees have had increased access to education opportunities, while more than 16,400 employees have been awarded tuition assistance.

Previously, employees could receive between $700 and $1,050 in tuition assistance per year, but not until after nine months of employment — during which they had to work a minimum of 20 hours per week.

Now, however, employees will receive between $2,500 and $3,000 in tuition assistance per year and will be eligible for the funding after 90 days of employment in which they work a minimum of 15 hours per week.

Eligible crew members previously received $700 per year in tuition assistance and will now receive $2,500 per year.

Eligible managers previously received $1,050 per year and will now receive $3,000 per year.

The funds can be applied to any school, whether a community college, a four-year university or a trade school. There is no lifetime cap on the tuition funding one employee can receive, so employees are allowed and encouraged to pursue an education at their own pace.  

In its recent news release, McDonald’s notes that the lower barrier to entry for the tuition- assistance program will allow employees more time to focus on school, as employees can now meet the requirements with roughly two full-time shifts per week.

The company also says that two programs — one that helps employees earn a high school diploma and career certification online, and one that provides college advisory services — will be extended to workers’ family members, while “career exploration resources” will be available to employees later this year.

“By tripling tuition assistance, adding education benefits for family members and lowering eligibility requirements to the equivalent of a summer job,” David Fairhurst, who leads McDonald’s global human resources and training, said in the release, “we are sending a signal that if you come work at your local McDonald’s, we’ll invest in your future.”

These changes will be go into effect on May 1, 2018 but will be retroactive to January 1, 2018.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.