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Posted October 24, 2019 by

Chipotle now covering 100% of tuition costs, even for part-time employees

It isn’t hard to admit: I’ve been a fan of Chipotle’s food since it opened a restaurant near my home about a decade ago.

If you’ve never been, think Subway but for burritos, tacos, and tortilla-less meals served in a bowl. Think concrete floors and lots of stainless steel. Think freshly cooked, savory meats. Think fresh, yummy guacamole. But I digress into a hunger causing diatribe.

Working in a restaurant — any restaurant — is not for the faint of heart. The work is usually fast-paced, customers can be jerks, and the hours often very early or very late. But it is good, honest, hard work. Every minute of every day your work is appreciated by customers who want a little treat, either in the sense of rewarding themselves or rewarding their taste buds. Or both.

Keeping workers happy and retaining them is an incredible challenge for almost all restaurants, especially those whose pay is at the lower end of the scale, which includes almost all fast-food restaurants. Let’s face it, you’re not going to get rich working in a fast-food restaurant, but you’ll earn your pay, you won’t get bored, and you’ll almost certainly make some great friends amongst your co-workers.

But now there’s another benefit to working at a fast-food restaurant. To be clear, not just any fast-food restaurant. Just Chipotle. At least for now. Chipotle, consistent with its mission to Cultivate a Better World, just announced an incredible tuition reimbursement program. Together with Guild Education, Chipotle will cover 100 percent of college tuition costs for all eligible employees, including hourly (crew) members. When I read that, I skeptically thought, “Yeah, but who will be eligible?” I’m often wrong, and this was one of the many times when I was very happy to be wrong.

The news here isn’t that Chipotle has a tuition reimbursement program. Yawn. Lots of employers, including College Recruiter, do. And the news isn’t even that the program covers 100 percent of the tuition costs. That’s a higher bar than most but, at best, evolutionary and not revolutionary. The news here is that to be eligible you need only have worked at Chipotle for four months (120-days, to be exact) AND work at least 15 hours a week. That’s right. Those working only 15-hours a week will get 100 percent of their college education paid for by Chipotle. That’s revolutionary. Kind of like their one-pound, barbacoa, burritos. But I digress again.

There are some limitations, but they’re VERY reasonable. Only certain degrees qualify, but there are 75 of them and range from high school diplomas to bachelor’s degrees in business or technology. The courses are online, but include VERY well respected schools like Denver University. Not satisfied with their schools? No problem. Chipotle will continue to offer its tuition reimbursement program, which allows eligible employees to be reimbursed for tuition up to $5,250 a year at the school of their choice. That’s not going to come close to covering the full cost of a typical, elite, four-year university, but it could easily cover a third or even a half at many state colleges and perhaps all of the costs of a community college. Or, slap that baby together with a nice scholarship or two and now you’re back into the free zone. Where you can enjoy a pork carnitas taco. With green chili. Mmmm.

College Recruiter, we believe that every student and recent graduate deserves a great career. That guiding principle leads us to push some employers to treat their employees better, sometimes by paying them better, sometimes by creating better working conditions, and sometimes by helping those employees achieve their life goals. With this new program, Chipotle is setting a new bar for other employers and, I hope, many others will follow their lead. Kudos, Chipotle.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Posted October 11, 2019 by

Why employers should offer 529 college savings and tuition reimbursement plans

The cost of higher education is exponentially higher for the Millennials who recently graduated and Gen Zers who are currently enrolled in one-, two-, and four-year colleges and universities. A Baby Boomer may have paid $10,000 for tuition, room, and board in the 1960s. By the 1980s, the same would have cost a Gen Xer about $50,000. Today, the same will cost a Gen Zer $250,000. A very small percentage of students don’t face that kind of sticker shock as they’re extremely affluent and pay for that out-of-pocket, perhaps with savings, or they’re amongst those with the lowest income but qualify for the largest merit scholarships. For the vast majority of students, financing hundreds of thousands of dollars for their education is the reality. 

It is pretty common for student loans to carry interest rates of 6.25 percent, so about double what home mortgages cost, despite the student loans being of lower risk than home mortgages as you can’t discharge student loan debt through bankruptcy. Also normal is a 20-year repayment period. The cost of a $250,000 loan with an interest rate of 6.25 percent and a length of 20 years results in a monthly payment of $1,827.32, which is about $2,500 before tax. In other words, just to cover your student loans, you need to earn $30,000 a year. Even if your cost of education is half of that, you need to earn about $15,000 a year just to cover your student loans. 

Employers that create 529 education savings and tuition reimbursement plans effectively give their participating employees a substantial raise without it costing the employer anything. Money contributed to a 529 plan is tax-deductible, so if the employee contributes $10,000 a year, they’re going to save about $2,500 a year in taxes. That employee has therefore just effectively been given a $2,500 raise by their employer, without that raise costing the employer anything. Even more dramatic is tuition reimbursement, as that doesn’t cost the employee anything. At College Recruiter, we offer tuition reimbursement of $1,500 per year. If the employee’s tax bracket is 25 percent, that’s worth $2,000 to them. We are, effectively, giving those employees a $2,000 per year raise.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Posted April 17, 2019 by

Why are your interns and new grad hires so strapped for cash?

The student debt that Millennials and now Gen Z have and are incurring is crippling and, long-term, could financially devastate an entire generation.

Those who went to college in the 1980’s or earlier simply can’t relate as the cost to attend college then could be covered by working part-time as a waiter or bartender and any debt they graduated with could be repaid within a handful of years working at a job that paid well but not even great.
Today’s students are often attending schools which charge $25,000 or more per year plus another $15,000 in related costs such as traveling to and from school each semester, rent, food, and books. A four-year degree, therefore, often costs $160,000.

Part-time jobs typically pay about $10 per hour. At 20-hours a week, that’s $41,600 over four years, so about $120,000 needs to be financed. Student loans often carry interest rates of eight percent or more, so over 20-years the average student is going to see about half of their gross wages disappear to repay the principal plus interest on their student debt.

The end results is that the average graduate of a four-year college or university is effectively being asked to live on about $25,000 per year. If they run into any unexpected, significant expenses like the need to replace a car or have surgery, then there is a very real possibility of them falling into delinquency. Many of the student loans then charge huge penalties, including significantly higher interest rates. So if you miss a payment one or two times, your already exorbitant interest rate of eight can easily escalate to 16 percent and then 24 percent. Before you know it, you’re paying 24 percent interest on a six figure loan that is non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.

If that’s not a recipe for financial disaster, I don’t know what is.

Guidance counselor talking to a teenager. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Posted January 09, 2019 by

What colleges don’t want high school students and parents to consider during the application process

A friend of mine recently posted to Facebook that the guidance counselor at the high school her kids attend recently indicated that “most” colleges require at least three years of a second language in order to consider the student for possible admission. I called b.s. on that statement and then outlined some additional information that high school guidance counselors and college admissions representatives often either don’t know or, for whatever reason, often fail to communicate:

I know you and I are on the same page, but the guidance counselor is providing terrible guidance and needs to be more careful about accurately guiding her students. 

There are 8 Ivy League schools. There are 3,000, four-year colleges. There are another 4,300 one- and two-year colleges. 

Ivys represent 0.267 percent of four-year colleges. Hardly representative.

More important words of advice: Talk openly and honestly with your kids about the financial impact of college. 

Here is the reality: if a family is wealthy and can pay out of pocket — including savings — then the cost isn’t as important.  (more…)

Posted August 16, 2018 by

Understanding the advantages of the gig economy

 

The workforce has been evolving due to the integration of technology in our society today. “Sometimes all you need is a cell phone and a laptop and you can do many kinds of work remotely,” states Jo Weech, CEO and Principal Consultant of Exemplary Consultants. Weech provides business management consulting to small businesses and start-ups. Here, she offers insight into what the gig economy is and how students and recent graduates can take advantage of the opportunities that come along with it.

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10 unique side jobs to help pay student loan debt - rock climbing instructor

Posted February 16, 2017 by

10 unique side jobs that can help pay off student loan debt

 

Robin Rectenwald has a full-time job working for WordWrite Communications a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania public relations firm, that she absolutely loves. But that hasn’t stopped her from finding unique side jobs to help pay off her student loan debt. Rectenwald graduated from Duquesne University in 2012 with 20 different student loans and $100,000 in loan debt. Now, in 2017, she only has five loans left, and is quickly whittling down the amount she owes.

Before landing her first full-time job in 2012, Rectenwald worked part-time as a customer service representative at Gateway Clipper Fleet, a Pittsburgh sightseeing organization. She worked in the ticket and sales office, where she learned about marketing, sales and customer service – all valuable skills in her current role – and for any future opportunities. She worked for Gateway Clipper Fleet for four years, using that money to make extra payments towards her school loans. Rectenwald recently switched to a new part-time job as a customer care representative at ShowClix, a ticketing software company. For this job, she works from the comforts of her own home answering phones and responding to emails from customers looking to buy tickets to international events.

“Even though I’ve grown as a professional in the PR field and have had a number of promotions that increased my salary since starting out as an entry-level professional, I continue to work a part-time job because I’m trying to save as much money as possible,” says Rectenwald. “With this part-time income, I’ve been able to pay off several student loans and I’m currently using this extra money to pay tuition out-of-pocket for grad school.”

Rectenwald takes these part-time jobs seriously, and puts in maximum effort – something her managers have noticed. She was offered a full-time job in the marketing department at Gateway Clipper Fleet, and is writing a crisis communication plan for ShowClix as part of her grad school program.

“These part-time jobs have not only expanded my network and presented additional career opportunities, it has also given me a unique perspective on marketing and communication strategies.”

And it’s also helped her greatly reduce her student loan debt, and time it would take to pay the loans back.

That’s what Eric Hian-Cheong is also trying to accomplish. He works full-time for a public relations firm in McLean, Virginia, but also has two, unique part-time jobs. He makes $11 an hour as a part-time rock climbing instructor at a local fitness center, and also works as a second shooter/assistant to a local wedding photographer.

“Why limit yourself to just one other part-time job?” said Hian-Cheong.

He works up to 8 hours a weekend, and nets up to $400 a month as a rock climbing instructor – which is right around what he pays each month for his student loans. That job also provides a free gym membership – saving him another $95 a month in gym membership fees.

These jobs have helped Hian-Cheong improve his self-confidence, he says, and also provides an incredible social life outside of the 9-to-5 job.

“I have several friends whose social lives revolve around their 9-to-5, which can get a little unhealthy at times,” says Hian-Cheong.

It’s also helped him network and communicate with a wide variety, and diverse group of people, helping him develop communication, interpersonal, critical thinking, and speaking skills, as he must provide instructions, detail, and clarity, when instructing individuals and a class.

Rectenwald and Hian-Cheong are among the many recent college grads supplementing their income, and paying off student debt with the help of a unique side job. What are some other unique part-time job opportunities one can pursue to help make extra cash to pay off student loans? Consider some of these options:

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Gold image of graduate chained to debt. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Posted February 09, 2017 by

Ask Matt: Make a plan! 12 strategies for dominating student loan debt

Dear Matt: I recently graduated from college and it’s almost time to start paying back my student loans. I have over $50,000 in student loan debt, and it seems almost overwhelming to have to pay all this back, especially with many other expenses. Fortunately I have landed a job, and am making a decent salary. That helps, but I’m feeling financial pressure to make it all work. Do you have any tips or resources for people like me seeking advice on how to manage the overwhelming burden of paying back student loans/debt?

Matt: I cringed when I heard the numbers. My niece is in her second year of college and has already accumulated $65,000 in student loan debt. “But it’s totally worth it,” she said, before leaving for London for a month-long school-sponsored education program. She’s right in the fact that a college degree, and the experiences that come with it, are worth it. But it’s painful to see so many young students accrue so much debt. She may realize that as well – after one year at a private school, she’s now going to a public university and back living at home as a way to cut costs.

Her story reminded me of my cousin who accumulated over $120,000 in student loan debt. Her first job was for a large financial institution (her degree was in education, from a private school). Her boss at that job, only a few years older, didn’t go to college, had no student loan debt, and made more money than her. Those two eventually got married – which is how I know this story – but that in itself is a whole other story.

Why do I tell these tales? Because these are common stories for today’s college student and college graduate. And while it doesn’t change this reader’s situation – or pay their debt, any recent college graduate with student debt should understand that you are not alone, and that there are resources out there to help you.

In fact, nearly seven in 10 seniors (68%) who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2015 had student loan debt, with an average of $30,100 per borrower, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.

When I paid back my student loans after graduating from Minnesota State University, Mankato (Mankato State University back then), I did it without a plan, or real understanding of the options available to me. I simply read the letters sent to me, submitted the pay stub and check to the loan servicing company (no online payments back then) each month, and cringed as it seemed like a lingering debt that would never go away.

Don’t be like me. Don’t go about paying back student loan debt without a plan. Take advantage of the many online resources available, and heed advice from financial experts like Phil Schuman, Director of Financial Literacy at Indiana University (IU). Schuman unleashed multiple financial literacy initiatives in the past four years, and reduced undergraduate student borrowing across IU by nearly 14 percent – which comes out to a whopping savings of $78 million, since introducing his financial literacy efforts.

It’s tough to start one’s professional career drowning in debt. But don’t let that debt dominate your life.

“While it’s extremely important that you get rid of (student loans) as fast as you possibly can, make sure you don’t do it at the expense of your wellness,” says Schuman. “If there are things in life that are important to you and keep you going, even if they cost a little bit of money, make sure to keep them as part of your life. Having those things in your life will help keep you motivated and energized to continue tackling your student debt.”

Katie Ross, Education and Development Manager for the American Consumer Credit Counseling, an organization that provides information and guidance on issues such as identity theft, credit, debt and budgeting, agrees.

“There is a stigma about being in debt that causes many borrowers to prioritize eliminating student loan debt over other financial objectives like saving for a house or for retirement,” says Ross. “If possible, do not neglect saving for retirement just to expedite student loan repayment.”

I get it – it’s hard to think about saving for retirement – let alone making monthly rent payments, car payments, or even going out on the weekend – when that large monthly loan payment looming. But it can be, and will be done. You will get out of debt. But it’s not easy, and takes planning, preparation and diligence.

Get out of student debt by following these tips:

1. Take ownership of your debt: “You need to realize that you are in charge of how quickly your debt can go away,” says Schuman. “Don’t allow yourself to blame others for your debt being there or hope that others will help you get rid of it. Own your debt and get rid of it as fast as possible.”

Set a “done with debt” date and then do everything you possible can to meet it.

2. Create an efficient budget: A carefully planned budget will help any individual gain a better understanding of their financial outlook and how they’ll need to adjust their lifestyle to afford to live, save, and pay off debt. “Knowing how much money you have to dedicate to paying off students loans and what expenses can be reduced is the best place to start when trying to figure out how to eliminate student loan debt quickly,” says Ross.

3. Calculate payments: At StudentLoans.gov, borrowers can access a repayment estimator that will help them understand how much their monthly payments will be under different repayment plans. Because the site accesses borrowers’ specific student loan files, repayment calculators can show each graduate repayment details that are unique to their specific loans. This will also let borrowers see what the interest rates are on their different loans and what they will pay in interest using different repayment options.

4. Worry about the amounts, not the interest rates: “Before I explain myself I do want to assure you that I do understand math,” jokes Schuman. It might seem contradictory to not focus on the interest rates of a debt, but paying off debt is more a matter of psychology than it is math, he says. In the case of focusing on paying off debts by interest rates, while it will allow you to pay less in interest when all is said and done it is difficult to tackle debt when you don’t see the numbers go down fast. If you pay off your debts by prioritizing the one with the lowest balance – and still paying the minimums on all other debts – you’ll see your number of debts go down faster, which will motivate you to keep tackling your debt.  Once you get rid of the first debt, apply the money you used to pay off that debt and apply it to the one that now has the lowest balance, and so on.

5. Understand relief eligibility: While logged into the Federal Student Aid website, borrowers should read up on different relief programs that are available to military personnel, public servants, persons with disabilities, and other individuals, points out Ross. The details of the programs are important because borrowers might already be eligible or can become eligible based on the industry they enter upon joining the workforce. Some may qualify to have their loans discharged or forgiven after just 10 years of on-time payments.

6. Choose a loan repayment plan: Those who can afford it and are interested in getting out of debt quickly should choose whichever plan has the highest payments and the shortest repayment period. Anyone in any plan can accelerate their repayment by paying a little more than their minimum payment each month. This will save the most in interest over the life of the loans.

7. Make one extra monthly payment per year: Making 13 payments a year instead of 12 can help save big on interest. Learn more about that strategy in the article Paying off Student Loan Debt: 5 Tips.

8. Contact the loan servicing company: Graduates and other borrowers should know which company is handling their student loan debt. Student loan repayment and billing for some borrowers is not handled by the government itself but by a loan servicing company. Getting in touch with the loan servicing company will help borrowers update their contact info, learn about potential ways to reduce interest, and get up-to-date details about how much they still owe.

9. Enroll in autopay: If borrowers are financially able, the easiest way to ensure that their loans are taken care of is to enroll in a service that automatically deducts their loan payment from their bank account each month. Plus, this protects grads from missing payments and hurting their credit, says Ross.

10. Be cautious about refinancing student loans: Many new grads obsess over their debt and paying it off as quickly as possible, says Ross. Know that refinancing comes with risks like losing the benefits offered with federal student loans. Also, your credit need to be in really good shape in order to refinance and get a good interest rate. If you do choose to refinance, be careful about choosing a fixed or variable interest rate. Interest rates, which are set by the Federal Reserve, are likely to increase, which could be harmful to your debt repayment plans, says Ross. Be sure to carefully read all terms and conditions when refinancing.

11. Set up an emergency fund: Don’t accelerate payments on deductible student loan debt until you’ve set aside six to 12 months of “emergency” money, says Beth Walker, CCPS, CRPC®, a Partner and Personal CFO for The Wealth Consulting Group and founder of Center for College Solutions, a resource for families and college students whose goal is to reduce the stress – and costs of attending college.

“This seems counterintuitive but student loan debt is still relatively ‘cheap’ and having liquidity, use and control of capital is the foundation to a strong financial future,” says Walker.

12. Find a way to focus on the future: This may seem years away, but remember this tip: Once the loans are paid off, immediately direct the monthly loan payment toward a long-term savings program. “You’ve learned to live without using that cash flow in your current lifestyle up to this point, so take advantage of that fact and fund your future lifestyle with the equivalent of your education loan payments,” says Walker.

So you have student loan debt. That’s reality. Don’t let it get you down. Develop a plan for success. And heed the advice from experts. By reading this article you’ve already received advice from a financial literacy expert, a manager from a consumer credit counseling agency, and a financial planning expert who has a decade of experience helping families and individuals pay off student debt.

That’s a good start. That’s more than I ever did – and more than most people do.

Keep it up and you will dominate your student debt.

Matt Krumrie CollegeRecruiter.com

Matt Krumrie is a contributing writer for CollegeRecruiter.com

About Ask Matt on CollegeRecruiter.com
Ask Matt is a new monthly career advice column that offers tips and advice to recent college grads and entry-level job seekers. Have a question? Need job search or career advice? Email your question to Matt Krumrie for use in a future column.

Posted July 13, 2016 by

Career assessments: Valuable at all stages of one’s career

Job candidate reading assignment in assessment center

Completing a career assessment can help job seekers at all stages of their career.

A career assessment is a great way for college students to learn more about the type of career they could pursue, based on their personality, interests, goals, and aspirations. But career assessments can also be beneficial for college students completing an internship, new college grads, and entry-level employees looking to make that next step in their career.

The reason is simple: “Learning about oneself is an ongoing, lifelong search,” says Stephanie P. Kennedy, co-founder of My College Planning Team (MCPT), a Downers Grove, Illinois-based company that provides college students and families with a variety of financial and academic/career planning resources.

There are a variety of popular career assessments that have value at all stages of one’s college and professional career. The staff at My College Planning Team uses a combination of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and the Holland Code Test. They also use and favor the YouScience assessment, an assessment that helps students reveal their paths to education and career success.

Taking a career assessment can be of value, but taking a career assessment and working with a college career counselor, career coach, or other career services professional to expand on those results can add real value.

“Self-assessment based largely on what the computer program identifies you as can be misleading, frustrating, and downright false,” says Kennedy. “Career counselors and educational consultants are trained to interpret these assessments and are skilled in presenting them in a customized manner.”

The team at MCPT excels in working with students who may want to learn more about how to get the most out of an assessment.

“While the assessment tools are efficient and highly respected in our field, the value of those assessments comes from our customized processing of the results with each person,” says Kennedy.

It’s never too late to take a career assessment. And it’s even more beneficial to complete a career assessment and get further analysis and guidance by partnering with a career professional who can help you plan your career based on the results of these assessments. Like Kennedy said, learning is lifelong. A thorough career assessment with a qualified counselor can be very helpful.

“For most people, the task of career exploration will not end with high school graduation, or with college graduation,” says Kennedy. “The tools of career assessment can aid you in your career exploration and decisions throughout your lifetime.”

For more tips on career assessments and other job search advice, stay connected by following College Recruiter on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Stephanie Kennedy, co-founder of My College Planning Team

Stephanie Kennedy, co-founder of My College Planning Team

Stephanie Kennedy is co-founder of My College Planning Team. She holds a M.S. in Counseling and College Student Development. A former admissions counselor, her team now helps students identify their passions and find the colleges that are the best fit academically, socially, and with career focus. Kennedy has worked at the University of Miami, Northeastern University, Texas A&M University, Stonehill College, and others. She has read hundreds of college applications and assisted thousands of students in their college adjustment and educational path. With her hands-on perspective, she guides students and families in a successful college search that goes far beyond the acceptance letter.

 

Posted November 24, 2014 by

Really Costly Mistakes That Parents Tend To Make When Saving Money For College

Jeremy Biberdorf

Jeremy Biberdorf

Based on how many children you have, the expenses associated with college are the most expensive except retirement payments. With this in mind, it is obvious that problems can appear and mistakes can be done. The huge problem is that most people do not actually consider subscribing to the top finance blogs and this automatically means a lack of knowledge, which can lead to mistakes. Learn all that you can about the topic and never make the following mistakes when saving money for college. (more…)

Posted May 29, 2014 by

Interview of Leela Srinivasan of LinkedIn at the College Recruiting Bootcamp

In this interview by Lydia Abbot of LinkedIn at the May 5, 2014 College Recruiting Bootcamp, Leela Srinivasan discusses how students are using LinkedIn and how those differ from more experienced professionals. Two interesting differences are that Millennials care more about compensation yet less about work-life balance than do older workers. Males are less concerned than females about having bad relationships with their supervisors.

The College Recruiting Bootcamp was organized by College Recruiter and co-hosted by LinkedIn at its headquarters in Mountain View, California. Over 100 corporate university relations leaders attended and more than 3,000 registered for the livestream. The Bootcamp was designed to help these staffing leaders more efficiently and effectively hire college and university students and recent graduates.
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