Starbucks employees offered free tuition at Arizona State U

Starbucks is offering to pay some or all tuition at Arizona State University for any 20+ hour/week employees, with no requirement that these employees remain with the company after attaining their degrees (employees who already have two years' credit get the remainder free; others will pay part, but are eligible for grants and aid). ASU has a very large online education offering, and Starbucks employees surveyed by the company often cite a desire to finish their degrees.

In a low-wage service industry, Starbucks has for decades been unusual, doing things such as providing health insurance, even for part-timers, and giving its employees stock options. (Like other food and drink chains, it has also been accused of using improper tactics in fighting unionization drives.) Whether in spite of those perks or because of them, the company has been highly successful; its stock, which closed Friday at $74.69, has grown in value more than a hundredfold since it went public in 1992.

The president of Arizona State, Michael M. Crow, something of an evangelist for online education, was scheduled to join Mr. Schultz and Arne Duncan, the education secretary, to announce the program on Monday in Manhattan. Arizona State has one of the largest online degree programs in the United States, with 11,000 students and 40 undergraduate majors, and one of the most highly regarded.

The university and the company say they do not know how many Starbucks employees will take advantage of the program, which includes help with paperwork and academic advising, but they expect thousands to enroll, and Mr. Crow said Arizona State has prepared for a major surge in enrollment. Tuition for Arizona State’s online undergraduate courses is usually about $500 per credit, and it takes 120 credits to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Starbucks to Provide Free College Education to Thousands of Workers [Richard Pérez-Peña, NYT]

(via Hacker News)

(Image: Explore, Kevin Dooley, CC-BY)

Notable Replies

  1. Oh great. As if my barista wasn't already over-educated. Just give me my coffee, tattoo-lady with a master's degree in French literature, and stop talking to me about your parody book of Baudelaire poetry entitled Caffeinenivrez-Vous....

  2. Online education is a terrible fit for many of the students who will be trying to take advantage of this opportunity. For low-income and first-generation college students, online education is often nothing but endless frustration and washouts, because they need the structure, relationships, and support systems that you can only get on campus. Not to mention the personal connections and mentoring that are most likely to help lead to jobs.

  3. Don’t Drink Starbucks Free College PR Stunt

    Starbucks is switching out their traditional partial tuition reimbursement program to one that forces their employees to attend one college— and an online college at that— if they want to get help paying for college.

  4. So, they'll be learning Russian first, it appears.

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