Starbucks to pay for employees' college tuition

Company will cover online courses at Arizona State

NEW YORK CITY - Aside from a steady paycheck and some benefits, what has your employer done for you lately? Starbucks is sending its workers to college for free.

The Starbucks College Achievement Plan was announced at an event in New York City on Monday morning.

The program will offer its U.S. employees a free ride to take online courses at Arizona State University, en route to finishing a bachelor’s degree. Starbucks executive Andrew Alfano described the announcement as “very exciting,” to an enthusiastic crowd which included United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

So what’s the catch?

Starbucks will completely cover tuition costs for employees that have completed at least two years of college credit, have earned test scores equivalent to ASU’s standards and work at least 20 hours per week. The company will partially cover tuition for employees that haven’t completed two years of courses, according to ASU’s website.

Students in the program will also be provided with a “dedicated enrollment coach, financial aid counselor and academic advisor,” according to ASU.

The company, which made $14.9 billion in 2013, employs over 100,000 young people, according to CEO Howard Schultz. “Many of them don’t have a college degree,” Schultz said in a promotional video.

Schultz believes the partnership will benefit the company by providing employees an incentive to stay. “It’ll increase performance and retain better people,” he told the New York Times.

With the move, Starbucks joins the approximately 54 percent of American employers offering educational assistance to employees, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Arizona State University offers more than 40 undergraduate programs, which eligible Starbucks employees will be able to choose as majors, according to the university. It’s not clear how much money this move will cost Starbucks in the long run but yearly tuition for online courses at ASU costs about $11,000.

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