Starbucks to offer employees free tuition to complete online bachelor’s degree


Starbucks is planning to announce on Monday a new plan to offer full tuition reimbursement to thousands of  its employees to complete a bachelor’s degree online — with no mandate to stay with the company after graduation.

The Starbucks College Achievement Plan, in collaboration with Arizona State University, will be announced in New York by Starbucks chief Howard Schultz, along with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and ASU President Michael Crow. ASU has one of the country’s largest online degree programs, offering some 40 different majors for undergraduates.

Hoping to retain its workforce and save on hiring and training costs, Starbucks says it plans to subsidize an online bachelor’s degree program for its employees in the U.S. (Reuters)

 

Under the plan, some part-time and full-time employees of Starbucks will be eligible for differing amounts of tuition reimbursement. Here’s how the plan will work, according to a Starbucks press release:

Through this innovative collaboration, partners based in the U.S. working an average of 20 hours per week at any company-operated store (including Teavana®, La Boulange®, Evolution Fresh™ and Seattle’s Best Coffee® stores) may choose from more than 40 undergraduate degree programs taught by ASU’s award-winning faculty such as electrical engineering, education, business and retail management. Partners admitted to ASU as a junior or senior will earn full tuition reimbursement for each semester of full-time coursework they complete toward a bachelor’s degree. Freshmen and sophomores will be eligible for a partial tuition scholarship and need-based financial aid for two years of full-time study. Partners will have no commitment to remain at the company past graduation.

Under the plan, students will be given support through dedicated enrollment coaches, financial aid counselors and academic advisors, the release says.

Why is Starbucks doing this? Schultz explained in the statement:

“In the last few years, we have seen the fracturing of the American Dream. There’s no doubt, the inequality within the country has created a situation where many Americans are being left behind. The question for all of us is, should we accept that, or should we try and do something about it. . Supporting our partners’ [employees'] ambitions is the very best investment Starbucks can make. Everyone who works as hard as our partners do should have the opportunity to complete college, while balancing work, school and their personal lives.”

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · June 15