Starbucks to Workers: We'll Pay for College

Firm says it will pay $30K per worker for online tuition

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 16, 2014 2:40 AM CDT | Updated Jun 16, 2014 5:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Starbucks workers who don't want to be baristas forever will be able to get a college education courtesy of the coffee chain. The company says it is offering all 135,000 of its US employees who work at least 20 hours a week the opportunity to be reimbursed for two full years of classes in Arizona State University's online studies program, CNN reports. Starbucks says people taking the program will be free to study whatever they want—and to leave the company whenever they want. It's not clear how much the tuition reimbursement will cost the company, but execs say the benefits will add up to around $30,000 for every worker taking part.

Even if many workers do end up leaving with their newly earned degrees, their experience "would be accreted to our brand, our reputation and our business," Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz tells the New York Times. "I believe it will lower attrition, it’ll increase performance, it'll attract and retain better people." The terms of the tuition reimbursement program are complicated and will vary from worker to worker, the AP finds, but the company says it will cover full tuition for those workers who have already completed two years of higher education and will cover part of the cost for others.

Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company, speaks in front of an image of the Starbucks logo.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Baristas prepare iced and hot drinks at a Starbucks Corp. store in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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For many of these Starbucks employees, an online university education is the only reasonable way they’re going to get a bachelor’s degree. - Jamie P. Merisotis, president of the Lumina Foundation education group

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