Companies like Chipotle and McDonalds are scamming working students


Graphic by Kevin Donovan

Kiera Kunstman

Tuition reimbursement is a well thought out scam provided by companies like Chipotle and McDonalds. Even with Starbucks’ reputable tuition reimbursement program, the company plays a significant role in convincing other workers that all programs are legitimate.
Getting paid to receive a degree while still having an income seems great at face value, but the lack of information about these reimbursement programs makes the scenario terrifying.
Chipotle offers a very narrow list of degrees that are earned online to fit around a student’s work schedule. The degrees provided center around jobs applicable to moving up in their company. Examples of this include business, marketing and accounting. Other than that, Chipotle fails to give any more information about what this program truly entails.
In school, teachers have taught students to look for detailed evidence when determining the credibility of a source. This is especially important when signing a contract for something as big as your future.
Even if the contract did not have ill intent, tuition reimbursement makes a big statement on how workers are being paid. America has been having a minimum wage crisis due to the growing inflation of money. Oxfam states that the wage gap between CEOs and minimum wage workers has grown drastically, “The average CEO makes $13,940,000, while a minimum wage worker makes $15,080: a gap of 924 to 1.”
Tuition reimbursement is using money that workers should already be receiving directly. According to GlassDoor, McDonald’s workers get paid $7 or $9 an hour. The College of St. Scholastica states, “about 40 percent of undergraduates work at least 30 hours a week.”
Workers with families work even more than that. With minimum wage being so low, student workers are earning around $10,080 to $12,960 yearly. That is an unlivable salary. The other workers, who do not participate in this program, are missing out on money that they will never see but deserve.
Tuition reimbursement program money has to come from somewhere and someone. The Foundation for Economic Education states that wage hikes raise prices for consumers. Since not all workers are receiving an indirect wage hike, the other workers end up losing more money by being a consumer. Thus, the programs add to America’s wage gap crisis.
Unlike the other companies, Starbucks gives an honest take on the whole situation by claiming that their program is different from the other companies. Payscale states that the baristas are being paid higher than McDonald’s with an average of $8 to $13 an hour.
Starbucks has even had a consistent price for their drinks. The company does not provide a limited amount of majors and offers a reputable university, Arizona State University. Additionally, their employees do not have any obligations to continue working with Starbucks after a worker’s graduation date.
Starbucks clearly has good intentions with their tuition reimbursement program. And I was excited for minimum wage employees when I initially heard about other companies starting to do the same thing. This was, however, until I found out how unreputable the other programs are. Essentially, Starbucks is being used to make other company’s ill intents look good.
It is safe to say that tuition reimbursement programs can be a bit shady. Since companies give a small list of universities for their employees to go to, students here are most likely not participating in these programs. Not every company is looking out for the greater good of their employees.