Starbucks Doubles Plan to Pay Employees’ College Tuition to Cover All Four Years

A pedestrian walks by a Starbucks Coffee shop on January 22, 201, in San Francisco. (Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)
A pedestrian walks by a Starbucks Coffee shop on January 22, 201, in San Francisco.
(Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)

Starbucks soon may find itself almost as famous for college diplomas as it is for java.

The coffee giant late Monday announced it was doubling its free college tuition plan for employees to cover a full four years of college instead of two. It also will offer employees faster tuition reimbursement — after every semester instead of after completing 21 class credits.

The program, in partnership with Arizona State University, offers all eligible full-time and part-time employees full tuition coverage for a four-year bachelor’s degree though ASU’s online degree program. Starbucks says it will invest up to $250 million or more to help at least 25,000 employees graduate by 2025.

The average tuition cost for four years at ASU Online is $60,000.

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

At a time when college tuition costs have escalated into the stratosphere, the announcement is potentially a major professional and morale booster for thousands of Starbucks employees. More than 144,000 employees would currently qualify for the free tuition, says Starbucks spokeswoman Linda Mills.

College tuition costs jumped about 3% in the 2014-15 school year, with in-state tuition at four-year public schools averaging $9,139 for the school year and out-of-state tuition at public schools averaging $22,958, reports the College Board. Tuition at private, non-profit schools averaged $31,231, the College Board estimates.

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SOURCE: USA Today – Bruce Horovitz