March 29 (UPI) -- McDonald's announced Thursday it's tripling the money it spends to help employees with their college tuition -- a move driven by the federal government's tax overhaul.
The fast-food chain said in a statement it will allocate an additional $150 million over five years to its Archways to Opportunities assistance program.
"Our commitment to education reinforces our ongoing support of the people who play a crucial role in our journey to build a better McDonald's," McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook said.
"By offering restaurant employees more opportunities to further their education and pursue their career aspirations, we are helping them find their full potential, whether that's at McDonald's or elsewhere."
McDonald's said the investment will also provide almost 400,000 employees with more access to the program by making them eligible after just 90 days of employment -- down from nine months -- and dropping weekly shift minimums from 20 to 15 hours.
Workers may also be eligible for $2,500 per year to attend a trade school, community college or a four-year university -- an increase from $700. For managers, that amount jumps from $1,050 to $3,000.
The chain said the new benefits may also apply to employees' family members.
"By tripling tuition assistance, adding education benefits for family members and lowering eligibility requirements to the equivalent of a summer job, we are sending a signal that if you come work at your local McDonald's, we'll invest in your future," McDonald's executive David Fairhurst said.
The company said the added benefits were "accelerated by changes in U.S. tax law."