Dividend checks continue to get fatter as more companies jack up their distribution rates.

Readers of the Income Investor newsletter can certainly appreciate that kind of thinking. Let's take a closer look at some of the companies that inched their payouts higher this past week.

Let's start with Sara Lee (NYSE: SLE). The company behind Jimmy Dean sausages, Senseo single-cup coffee, and its namesake sweets treated its investors to a dividend boost during its annual shareholder meeting on Thursday. Sara Lee's new quarterly rate of $0.115 a share is a 5% improvement.

Cintas (Nasdaq: CTAS) is also dressing up its disbursements. It's a small move -- going from $0.48 a share every three months to $0.49 a share -- but the leased corporate uniform leader has bumped up its yield every single year since going public in 1983.

Strayer Education (Nasdaq: STRA) is also moving its shareowners to the head of the class. The for-profit post-secondary educator is graduating its quarterly distributions by 33% to $1.00 a share. The industry came under fire this summer when crummy repayment rates of student loans became public. Strayer doesn't appear to be fazed by the report. Revenue and enrollments continue to grow, and the company plans to open eight new campuses next year.

Finally, we have Legg Mason (NYSE: LM) managing a chunkier yield. The mutual fund giant is cranking up its quarterly payout by 50% to $0.06 a share. Legg Mason's star manager Bill Miller stumbled horrendously in 2008, but the company's funds have gone on to bounce back nicely with the general market.

It's encouraging to see companies improving their yields at a time when fixed income investments are on the floor. These companies join several energy-related partnerships -- Alliance Resource Partners (Nasdaq: ARLP), NuStar Energy (NYSE: NS), and Breitburn Energy Partners (Nasdaq: BBEP) -- in sending more of their money back to their shareowners in recent days.

Subscribers to the Income Investor newsletter can appreciate the companies sending more and more money to their investors. The newsletter singles out companies that are committed to growing their distributions with market-thumping results.

Want to see what is being recommended these days? Go ahead and give the newsletter service a shot with a 30-day trial subscription. Who knows? Maybe the next thing that will get hiked will be your interest.

Do higher dividends matter to you? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Cintas is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation and a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Alliance Resource Partners is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. The Fool owns shares of Legg Mason. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz pays attention to yield signs. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.