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October 23, 2019

Chipotle is serving burritos with a side of debt-free degrees

Chipotle is the first fast-casual restaurant to offer a network of debt-free degrees to all eligible employees. 

Last week, Chipotle announced free tuition for eligible employees through a partnership with Guild Education. Chipotle will cover 100% tuition costs for 75 separate degree programs in business and technology at a handful of leading non-profit, accredited universities. Debt-free degrees are an expansion of Chipotle’s current program, Cultivate Education, which currently offers up to $5,250 per year in tuition reimbursement. Over the past two years alone, Chipotle has provided employees with over $20 million in tuition assistance. 

“This expansion of Chipotle’s Cultivate Education benefits program to cover 100% tuition costs upfront for degrees in business and technology represents the company’s commitment to upskilling its workforce and helping employees achieve their professional goals,” said Rachel Carlson, CEO and Co-founder of Guild Education. “We are thrilled to partner with Chipotle as they continue to lead the way in the fast-casual industry for enhancing the employee experience with best-in-class benefits.”

To be eligible for this education benefit, employees must be employed at Chipotle for 120 days and work an average of 15 hours per week. As a retention strategy, this encourages Chipotle employees to increase their tenures. Chipotle employees can enroll in classes through this benefit starting November 15th.

Education benefits are part of a larger total rewards category that adds measurable value. Tuition assistance helps retain and attract quality talent by presenting a best-in-class benefit. Chipotle’s new expanded benefit will also help employees avoid crippling student debt.

Chipotle has seen success with their existing education benefits program. Employees that currently participate in the Cultivate Education program are 2x more likely to be promoted and stay at the company longer than non-participatory employees.

Removing the financial burden of higher education will encourage Chipotle’s 80,000 employees to take advantage of Cultivate Education and, as a result, increase retention, empower recruitment, and decrease turnover. Most importantly, growing Cultivate Education demonstrates Chipotle’s commitment to their employees’ personal and professional development. 


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