The Seattle-based company this week unveiled a benefit that is designed to let college juniors and seniors complete their degrees at Arizona State, with all of the costs covered. For the freshman and sophomores years, workers would pay a reduced tuition.
A major aspect of the program is an upfront scholarship that Starbucks said is an investment between itself and Arizona State. When asked how much of that scholarship portion the company is providing, Starbucks initially said financial terms weren’t being disclosed.
Following the announcement, however, Arizona State University President Michael Crow told The Chronicle of Higher Education that Starbucks is not contributing any money toward the scholarship portion. Instead, Arizona State will essentially charge workers less than the sticker price for online tuition.
Starbucks confirmed Thursday that the scholarship is a reduced tuition rate from Arizona State. It estimates the reduction in tuition would average about $6,500 over two years for total tuition of $30,000 for the freshman and sophomore years. For the junior and senior years, Starbucks said the discount provided by Arizona State would amount to about $12,600 of the $30,000 total.
The program, which has been widely praised because education benefits are rare for low-wage workers, brought attention to the struggles people face in paying for college. It is unusual because workers can pick from 40 different degree programs and aren’t required to stay with Starbucks after they complete their degrees.
Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of EdVisors.com, a website about paying for college, said the program could benefit all parties involved.
Workers could get a chance at a degree from Arizona State University at a reduced rate. Arizona State could get a revenue boost from federal aid and out-of-pocket costs. And Starbucks could attract a better pool of workers and burnish its corporate image.