ASU Online, Starbucks expand partnership to cover bachelor's degrees

Company plans for 25,000 workers to graduate by 2025

Starbucks will expand its partnership with Arizona State University (ASU) Online to provide four years of tuition reimbursement to eligible employees, the coffee giant announced Monday.

In June 2014, Starbucks began offering full- and part-time employees a new benefits package: two years of tuition reimbursement for those who enroll in ASU's online studies program. Now, Starbucks has doubled that offer to a full four years. The company says it will invest about $250 million to help at least 25,000 employees graduate in the next decade.

Program details

Any employee at a company-owned store who works at least 20 hours per week is eligible. Workers pay tuition upfront, although ASU reduced the price by about 42% for participants and many are expected to qualify for federal aid. On average, four years of tuition at ASU Online costs about $60,000. Students may apply for reimbursements after each semester.

Additionally, they have no obligation to stay with Starbucks post-graduation.

Since the launch of the first iteration of the program in June, nearly 2,000 Starbucks employees have enrolled in ASU Online. Currently, about 144,000 workers qualify for the free tuition, says a company spokesperson, and about 70% do not hold undergraduate degrees.

ASU provides financial aid, enrollment, and academic advisers to support the students and helps them reach graduation, according to Starbucks.

"We're stronger as a nation when everyone is afforded a pathway to success," says Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO (Horovitz, USA Today, 4/7; AP/Yahoo News, 4/7, CNNMoney, 6/16/2014).

The takeaway: Starbucks announced Monday it will expand its employee tuition reimbursement program at Arizona State University Online from two to four years.

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