Starbucks to offer free tuition to employees

Starbucks employees are eligible for free college tuition, all thanks to the company’s newly-announced Starbucks College Achievement Program.

U.S.-based employees working 20 hours or more will be able to receive a full ride to Arizona State University’s online program. The program is available only for juniors and seniors, although freshman and sophomores are offered other scholarships that only cover tuition and fees in part. The program is geared toward helping students graduate debt-free.

“Starbucks decided human capital is one of the most important things they can invest in,” Arizona State University President Michael Crow said in an interview with USA Today. “Everybody is concerned about what are the ways to get through college.”

The program will also be available to other Starbucks-owned companies: Teavana, Evolution Fresh, La Boulange, Seattle’s Best Coffee and Tazo. According to Starbucks’s website, the idea behind the initiative is combatting the “skyrocketing” tuition increases that forces students to drop out of college by encouraging and helping its employees finish.

In a promotional video on Starbucks’s website, CEO Howard Schultz said the company “can’t wait for Washington” to do anything about rising tuition costs.

“There’s no doubt the inequality within the country has created a situation where many, many Americans are being left behind,” Schultz said. “The question I think for all of us is, ‘Should we accept that, or should we try to do something about it?’”

According to USA Today, ASU’s price per online credit hour ranges from $480 to $543. Business Insider reports ASU’s online courses are worth around $10,000 a year. Students can choose from 33 undergraduate programs from the university’s catalogue.

Research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows $85 billion is past due to the federal government in the form of student loans out of more than $870 billion which is outstanding.

Employees can enroll in the program starting Aug. 15. Classes begin Oct. 15

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