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Starbucks Offers Free Online College Classes to Employees

Want to get that bachelor's degree you’ve always wanted, but couldn’t afford? Become a barista. The Starbucks Corporation announced Monday that it's going to finance online degrees for employees via Arizona State University. The Starbucks College Achievement Plan, the first of its kind, will be available to U.S. Starbucks employees working at least 20 hours a week.


(Photo Credit: m01229/Flickr)

The offer is "no-strings attached," meaning that employees who partake have the freedom to pursue any major they choose and can leave Starbucks after getting their degree from Arizona State. Some companies offer similar opportunities, but include stipulations that exclude new employees, limit reimbursement to work-related courses, or expect employees to stay on board for years after.

Each employee admitted will have the first two years of college partially paid for and will receive full tuition reimbursement for the junior and senior years. Partial tuition scholarships and need-based financial aid will be available to help employees pay the balance during the freshman and sophomore years.

Employees that apply will need to have grades and test scores which meet Arizona State University’s admission requirements. Arizona State has one of the country’s largest online degree programs with more than 40 different undergraduate majors. Tuition at the school is around $500 per credit, with 120 credits required to earn a degree. Click here for information on Arizona State University's ROI.

It’s not yet known how many of the 135,000 United States employees will take advantage of the plan, but according to a New York Times article, Arizona State is preparing for the number to be in the thousands. According to a press release from the Starbucks Corporation, enrolled employees will have a dedicated enrollment coach, financial aid counselor, and academic advisor.

The Starbucks Corporation is also known for offering incentives to employees such as healthcare benefits, stock options, and pay that’s 3 percent above the market. Click here for the company’s profile.

In the press release, Starbucks President and CEO, Howard Schultz says the tuition plan is the company’s response to the growing inequality in America leaving many people behind.

Schultz says, “The question for all of us is, should we accept that, or should we try and do something about it.”

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