Starbucks: We'll Put Workers All the Way Through College

Company doubles down on free online tuition program
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2015 11:59 PM CDT
Updated Apr 7, 2015 1:00 AM CDT
Starbucks: We'll Put Workers All the Way Through College
Starbucks has expanded its program to help its baristas earn online degrees.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Working at Starbucks can now be a road to a free college education, with no requirement for baristas to stick around once they earn their degrees, the company says. The coffee chain—which launched the free tuition program less than a year ago—says it will now cover the cost of an entire four years of college for workers who enroll in Arizona State University's online program, Reuters reports. Starbucks says workers will now be reimbursed for tuition at the end of every semester, CNN reports. "The unfortunate reality is that too many Americans can no longer afford a college degree, particularly disadvantaged young people," says CEO Howard Schultz, who predicts the company will spend $250 million on the program over the next decade.

The offer is open to all employees who work at least 20 hours a week, and Starbucks says around 2,000 workers are already taking part in its free tuition program. The only catch appears to be that, unlike tuition reimbursement plans at other firms, this program is limited to a single university's online program, Quartz reports. Still, analysts say it looks like a pretty smart move from the company after its widely mocked campaign to start conversations about race relations. "Compared to the Race Together idea, which was as half-baked as it gets, this idea is a home run on several levels," the CEO of brand consultancy AgileCat tells USA Today. "It's a big bounce back for Starbucks." (Families making less than $125,000 a year no longer have to contribute to tuition at Stanford.)

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