Starbucks Expands College Tuition Program for Workers

Coffee chain agrees to offer free college tuition for four years instead of two

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In June 2014, Starbucks announced a partnership with Arizona State University (ASU) that would allow the Seattle-based coffee company to assist with paying for the college education of its employees who work at least 20 hours a week. Now, the coffee chain is expanding upon this partnership and offering free college tuition to its employees for four years instead of its original two year agreement.

Under the expanded program, Starbucks will provide eligible full-time and part-time workers full tuition coverage for a four-year bachelor’s degree through Arizona’s online program. The average cost to earn a four-year degree at ASU is $60,000, with the coffee chain saying it will invest $250 million or more to help at least 25,000 employees graduate college by 2025. The beverage brand has also agreed to offer employees faster tuition reimbursement, where they will get a refund back after every semester rather than after completing 21 credits.

[Related: Starbucks and USA Today Team Up to Tackle Race]

“By giving our partners access to four years of full tuition coverage, we provide them with a critical tool for a lifelong opportunity,” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in a statement. “We’re stronger as a nation when everyone is afforded a pathway to success.”

The announcement of Starbucks expanded college tuition program comes just on the heels of the company receiving a mixture of backlash and support for their “Race Together” program that stimulates conversation about America’s racial division.

So far, nearly 2,000 Starbucks employees have already enrolled in the program, which offers 49 undergraduate degree programs through ASU online.

Source: USA Today