Starbucks jumps in the distance education game by offering tuition payment at...

Starbucks jumps in the distance education game by offering tuition payment at ASU for employees

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Starbucks is in the news today for a deal that it has struck with Arizona State University’s online program. Employees who enroll as juniors and seniors can have their tuition paid by the coffee company if they enroll in Arizona State’s online program.

According to Ángel González of The Seattle Times:

“The so-called Starbucks College Achievement Plan is for employees who work at a company-operated store for an average of at least 20 hours a week, which Starbucks says covers the vast majority of its 135,000 U.S. staffers.

That includes staffers at Teavana, La Boulange, Evolution Fresh and Seattle’s Best Coffee stores.

Once in the program, they can choose from 40 majors. Employees don’t have to commit to stay with Starbucks after they graduate.

Starbucks declined to specify how much the program will cost, saying it’s too early to know how many people will enroll.

While the company and the university did not specify the cost of tuition for the Starbucks program, the Arizona State University website says tuition for its undergraduate online programs ranges from $480 to $543 per credit hour. Full-time students must take a minimum 12 credit hours in a semester, but typically many take as many as 16 credit hours.”

Starbucks had previously offered a tuition reimbursement program, where up to $1,000 of educational expenses could be paid in a calendar year.

The CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, has said that the new tuition reimbursement program through ASU is worth about $30,000 per employee.

What isn’t being mentioned in many of today’s articles about the Starbucks announcement is that for many students, especially low income students, online education is a mixed bag. Some students don’t have access to high speed internet and newer computers that would facilitate learning in distance courses, and many students who are in need of completing those final two years of undergraduate education may need extra support and training to make the most of an online learning experience.

For students who are already comfortable with conducting a lot of their business online and who are self-motivated, the Starbucks College Achievement Plan with ASU will probably be a good option.

Photo Credit: nerissa’s ring via Flickr

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