Starbucks Providing Employees New Benefit – Free College

A lot of Starbucks employees work there to make ends meet while going to college. Now, even more will undoubtedly be combining the two activities. Starbucks is introducing a new benefit for its employees; the company will provide college courses to staff free of charge.

The coffee company and Arizona State University (ASU) will be partnering on the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. The innovative program will allows thousands of Starbucks’ employees in the U.S. to complete their bachelor’s degrees online through Arizona State University with the coffee company reimbursing the tuition costs.

The Starbucks program is designed to provide a lifetime opportunity for thousands of full-time as well as part-time workers. The effort may create a prototype for helping college students complete degrees at a time when only half finish and those who do graduate are often deeply in debt.

The formal program will be introduced Monday by Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president and CEO, who will be hosting the company’s first U.S. Partner Family Forum in New York. Schultz will be joined by Dr. Michael M. Crow, ASU’s president, and Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, for the official announcement.

The new, free college benefit program will provide Starbucks employees/partners in the U.S. who work 20 hours per week on average at a company-operated store, including their Teavana, La Boulange, Seattle’s Best Coffee and Evolution Fresh stores, the opportunity to participate in more than 40 undergraduate degree programs at ASU. The degrees can be in education, electrical engineering, business and retail management, and other fields.

Starbucks’ staff who are admitted to ASU as a junior or senior will receive full tuition reimbursement for each full-time semester they complete toward their bachelor’s degree. Freshmen and sophomores are eligible for a partial scholarship as well as need-based financial aid for two years of full-time study. The company will not require employees who participate in the program to remain at the company past graduation.

“There’s no doubt, the inequality within the country has created a situation where many Americans are being left behind,” according to Schultz. “The question for all of us is, should we accept that, or should we try and do something about it,” he added. “Supporting our partners’ ambitions is the very best investment Starbucks can make.”

Starbucks’ investment is their attempt to support their employees and help the nearly 50 percent of college students who never finish remain on the course to a degree. The Starbucks College Achievement Plan was created to support all the working students on their payroll who need financing and comprehensive support to complete their degrees. It will undoubtedly make Starbucks even more appealing as an employer for those struggling to finish their education and encourage those already working their to remain with the company.

For ASU, the program creates greater awareness of their online programs and efforts to increase inclusivity and degree completion. “We are very pleased to collaborate with Starbucks,” said ASU president Crow, who commended their strong commitment to benefit their employees by providing this unique, new opportunity to finish college for free.

By Dyanne Weiss

New York Times
Wall Street Journal
Washington Post


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