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Could Starbucks Pay Your College Tuition?

World’s largest coffee chain to pay for employees’ online courses.

Credit: Starbucks.
Credit: Starbucks.

By Eleanor Stanford 

“What can I get started for you today?” How about a four-year education, Starbucks.

The coffee company will provide free college courses for thousands of its baristas, it announced Monday.

Starbucks employs 135,000 people across America - and 70 percent of them don’t have a college degree. With the new Starbucks College Achievement Plan, employees working 20 hours a week or more will be able to choose from 40 online course options at Arizona State, long a fierce advocate for online degrees.

For a barista who already has two years of college credit or more, Starbucks will pay for all their tuition, and credit can be transferred from other colleges. For employees with fewer college credits their employer will offer partial scholarship and need-based financial aid.

The arrangement is especially unusual as Starbucks won’t require employees to stay with the company after their studies. Instead, the company presented the arrangement as a route to higher wage employment for employees who would otherwise struggle to get an undergraduate degree.

“I believe it will lower attrition, it’ll increase performance, it’ll attract and retain better people, ” Howard D. Schultz, the company’s chairman and chief executive, told The New York Times in an interview.

The new benefit system is equal to about $30,000 per employee, said Starbucks spokesman Jim Olson.


If you’re a Starbucks employee, are you impressed by the Starbucks College Achievement Plan? Can you imagine taking online college courses? Let us know in the Comments section.

The Beast ! June 18, 2014 at 05:59 PM
All this will do is DIS-CREDIT a degree from the University of Arizona. It will now be viewed as "Oh you got one of those Starbucks online degrees". SMH what's next !
The Beast ! June 18, 2014 at 06:01 PM
Instead of working hard in high school I will just go work at Starbucks and get one of those UofA online degree's. What a MESS !
MFriedrich June 18, 2014 at 06:40 PM
One thing's for sure, Starbucks' timing on this is awful. Everybody knows that higher education pricing is at unsustainable bubble levels. Let this idea detonate in your brains for a second: Business Admin college grads are now leaving campus with $80-$100K+ in student loan debt and up to $10K in credit card debt. Unsustainable. If I were a H.S. grad right now (2014) I would instead teach myself programming, data analysis and project management skills and then operate as a consultant. Secondly, if you're a male in the US, do not get married. The costs and risks of doing so (no fault divorce, child custody, alimony, wealth destruction, etc.) completely outweigh any stated or implied benefits, unless you are incredibly ridiculously lucky. most of us are not. You're way better off just going to work at Starbucks.
fact checker June 18, 2014 at 11:41 PM
M...I disagree. For the very reasons you mention the timing couldn't be better. I believe their offer is based on employees who first complete 2 years at a community college. They selected ASU after researching to find out that their online degrees are highly regarded. Not everyone can teach themselves without online support in the fields you mentioned. Good for Starbucks. They also offer ownership and health benefits to even their part time employees. A great business model.
The Beast ! June 19, 2014 at 01:14 PM
ASU already has 72,000 students. Not sure what type of quality education comes from a student body that big or a strickly an online degree

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