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Starbucks College Achievement Plan gives workers online path to degree

Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

"Starbucks believes in the promise and pursuit of the American Dream," the coffee company recently announced.

To help their employees build that dream, Starbucks will cover their tuition at top-ranked Arizona State University's (ASU) online undergraduate degree program.

“ASU...delivers high-quality, rigorous curriculum taught by world-class faculty. Our goal is to ensure that anyone who is motivated to pursue a bachelor’s degree, but needs an adaptable and flexible format, has the opportunity to achieve his or her educational and career goals,” said Phil Regier, dean and executive vice provost of ASU Online.

Students can choose among 40 ASU online programs. Starbucks will provide their employees with full reimbursement of tuition expenses, and furthermore, give them personal support from an enrollment coach, a financial aid counselor and an academic advisor.

Noting that 70% of their employees are students or aspiring students and that nearly half of today's college students drop out for both personal and financial reasons, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said, "I truly believe that education is the way to opportunities and a better life."

"Without a college education I wouldn't be here today," added Schultz, a first-generation college student from a low-income family who attended Northern Michigan University on a football scholarship.

"The Starbucks College Achievement Plan," said Schultz, "is part of the answer to the question 'What is the role and responsibility of a public company,' and for me it demonstrates the heart and conscious of Starbucks."

"This is going to give (our employees) hope, opportunity and the freedom to believe in themselves and their careers for the long term," said Schultz.

The College Achievement Plan is available to any employees working 20 hours or more at company-operated Starbucks, plants or support centers who need to complete the last one or two years of their undergraduate degree.

Students who are just beginning their college careers will receive aid as well: Starbucks will contribute partial scholarships to cover approximately $6500 of the $20,000 needed for two years of full-time tuition; for needy students, most of the remainder would likely be covered by federal Pell Grants.

Watch Schultz's live announcement in New York City June 16, attended by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and over 300 Starbucks employees and their families here.

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