By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about Starbucks offering its employees discounted tuition to Arizona State for an online degree. While this may seem like an incredibly selfless thing for a corporation to do, it turns out that Starbucks won’t be footing much, if any, of the bill.
“Initially, Starbucks said that workers would be able to offset the costs through an upfront scholarship it was providing with Arizona State, but declined to say exactly how much of the cost it was shouldering. The chain estimated that the scholarship would average about $6,500 over two years to cover tuition of about $20,000.
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. Instead, Arizona State will essentially charge workers less than the sticker price for online tuition. Much of the remainder would likely be covered by federal aid since most Starbucks workers don’t earn a lot of money.”
“Right now, about 70% of Starbucks workers are either trying to complete a college degree or want to, making a tuition-reimbursement program seem like an excellent fit for Starbucks “partners” (their empowering name for workers). More than 130,000 staffers currently clocking at least 20 hours per week might qualify for the plan, through which they could earn their degrees from ASU’s burgeoning online undergraduate program.
For individual students, the mechanics of the program may be state-of-the-art, but the finances are surprisingly conventional. For the first two years of their education, Starbucks students will qualify for a small scholarship from ASU, but the balance of their tuition payments will have to come from loans and students’ own financial resources (aka their take-home pay as baristas). Students who are finishing up the final portion of their coursework – the equivalent of their junior and senior years – will be reimbursed for about $480 to $540 per credit, which is much pricier than the typical community college tuition.”
“Of course, it’s not a bad thing for companies to offer an education benefit to employees. But perhaps a less convoluted way for Starbucks to make college affordable would be to pay its workers enough to enable them to actually afford tuition. Of course, then Starbucks wouldn’t be able to brand itself as an educational game-changer: it would just be a decent place to work.”
Sure, it’s always a plus for companies to provide employees with some semblance of higher education opportunities, but I’m afraid that Starbucks’ new ploy isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. It certainly doesn’t alleviate the financial burdens most students face.
Candice Choi, “Starbucks degree program not as simple as it seems,” Komonews.com
Michelle Chen, “Why Starbucks Baristas Should Be Wary of the Education the Company Is Offering Them,” AlterNet
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