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Venti scholarship hold the commitment: Starbucks tuition plan not what it seems

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Remember how excited everybody got last week when Starbucks announced it would be helping its employees pay for college? Well, turns out Starbucks left out some pretty significant details. The program we were all told about was a scholarship based stipend with a steep tuition discount offered to Starbucks employees so they could take classes at Arizona State University and hopefully attain a degree with a lot less student loan debt.

However shortly following last Monday’s announcement the president of Arizona State, Michael Crow came forward to The Chronicle of Higher Education saying that Starbucks actually isn't putting forth any money towards the scholarship at all. The actual deal is that Arizona State will allow Starbucks employees, and only Starbucks employees to take advantage of a slight tuition discount at their school. The rest of the tuition money would have to come out of the student's own pocket or more realistically from federal aid and loans.

Starbucks will be picking up none of the tuition costs for its employees so Arizona State is the charitable organization here, not Starbucks. What Starbucks did get out of this is a whole ton of good publicity and free advertising for almost nothing. The scholarship program is incredibly generous on the part of ASU especially since recipients aren't required to stay employed by Starbucks to keep receiving their awards.

The provisions of the program do state that Starbucks would reimburse its employees for their out of pocket tuition costs but not until their junior and senior years and only once they have 21 college credits completed- so that's better than nothing but certainly not what they previously advertised here:

“In a first of its kind collaboration with Arizona State University, we’re offering partners the opportunity to finish their bachelor’s degree with full tuition reimbursement.”

Despite the general underhandedness of Starbucks' marketing team its a convoluted step in the right direction as the average American college student graduates with around $30,000 in student loan debt before interest starts piling up paired with entering a less than desirable job market. So should Starbucks be doing more like they originally promised? Or this caveat a fair one?


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