A lot of companies offer tuition reimbursement, but few say how much publicly.

Starbucks is launching an innovative partnership with a public university to offer a free online education to thousands of its employees across the country, including part-timers. But you know what’s just as impressive?

It’s the rare retail company that puts its mouth where its money is — the benefits of the new Starbucks college program are actually spelled out on its website for everyone to see. For instance:

  • Freshmen and sophomore students get approximately $6,500 in scholarships for two years of full-time study, while juniors and seniors get $30,000.
  • There’s no cap for freshmen and sophomore students, and a 75-credit cap for juniors and seniors.
  • If a recipient leaves Starbucks mid-semester, their current courses are still paid for and they don’t have to pay back anything.
  • Tuition reimbursement does not apply to “class fees; textbooks; meals, lodging or transportation expenses; student loan interest; late registration fees,” and quite a few other things.

This is surprisingly rare. We looked up the benefits offered at dozens of other major companies with entry-level retail jobs and found almost nobody else presented such clear-cut information.

You’d think big companies would shout their perks from the rooftops as a recruiting tactic. But most corporate websites are filled with stock photos and very little information.


There are a lot of companies that offer “tuition assistance,” but details are apparently classified for employees’ eyes only. Many don’t tell you the limits, how long it takes to qualify, or what strings are attached. Here’s what we found at 16 names you’ll probably recognize…


In the smallest legible print possible, they mention tuition reimbursement and “realistic bonus potential” is available for full-time employees. No specifics, although they do have an FAQ entry about why you can’t model for them.


Apple’s benefits page is just as clean and simple as everything else it designs. They offer “all the benefits you would expect. And then some.”

That includes tuition assistance, but they’re typically secretive about what that means. A former employee reviewing the company on jobs site Glassdoor.com says they reimburse up to $5,000.

Barnes & Noble

Full-timers qualify for tuition assistance “if you choose to further your business career by taking courses toward a job-related degree.”


After six months on the job, employees qualify for up to $5,000 reimbursement for “approved undergraduate or graduate courses.”

Carl’s Jr.

“After meeting minimum requirements you may be eligible for the following benefits,” including education reimbursement. Apparently, you might not be eligible even if you meet these unspecified minimum requirements.


They have a tuition reimbursement program — for full-timers. And that’s all they have to say about that.

Circle K

They have tuition assistance. Of some kind. No mention of free Icees and Frosters.

Cracker Barrel

They have a scholarship program, which doesn’t even get the vague bullets many other listed benefits do.

Dunkin Donuts

DD is owned by the same company as Baskin-Robbins, so employees here also have $5,000 they can use to learn the correct spelling of “doughnut.” Assuming English courses are on the approved list.


Their benefits flyer, updated just a couple months ago, starts this way: “This is a brief summary of ExxonMobil’s benefit plans and programs and is not intended to meet any legally required description of those programs. Those are available elsewhere.”

Really? Because we looked.

Anyway, they reimburse “eligible” tuition, fees, and books. Sure that’s spelled out “elsewhere.”

Home Depot

To its credit, Home Depot has a whole page describing tuition reimbursement. But most of the details are locked away behind an employee login page.

Curious consumers at least learn the program covers everything from tech school to PhDs. Home Depot also partners with a handful of for-profit universities (and one non-profit private school) to offer a discount on tuition.

Phillips 66

“When the coursework can benefit both you and the company, Phillips 66 will help you pay for school,” a pretty detailed policy document explains. “The company pays 90 percent of your tuition and other expenses, up to $4,000 a year for non-advanced degrees and $8,500 a year for advanced degrees.”

It also has a scholarship program that awards $16,000 over four years to 66 (get it?) employees’ kids each year.


The logistics experts do one of the better jobs of explaining job benefits. Part-timers can get $3,000 per year (with a cap of $15,000) for college, starting the day they’re hired. Those limits go up for management positions, and there are multiple scholarship programs, including for employees’ kids. There’s also a tuition assistance program for full-time, non-union employees.


“Through a partnership with American Public University, associates are eligible to receive college credit for their formal training and job experience at Walmart and Sam’s Club,” Walmart says. There’s also a scholarship program for people who have been employed for at least six months (including part-time) good for up to $3,000 per year at any accredited school recognized by the Department of Education. It’s capped at $16,000.

Wells Fargo

Employees can get up to $5,000 per year in tuition reimbursement ($2,500 for part-timers) for “approved courses that support your career development within Wells Fargo.”

White Castle

Offers a scholarship of up to $3,500, good anywhere for undergrad or graduate courses. To apply, you need two years as a full-time employee, and the scholarship can go to your spouse or kids.

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Meet the Author

Brandon Ballenger

Brandon Ballenger


Ballenger is a writer for Debt.com and its first political columnist.

Career and Business

college savings, employment

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Article last modified on September 18, 2018 Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Why the Starbucks college program is even better than you think - AMP.