Starbucks will announce a plan Monday to cover college tuition costs for its employees, if they enroll in Arizona State University's online degree program.
The company will cover partial costs for the first two years, supplemented with school and federal aid, and reimburse the full cost employees pay for the final two years of an online bachelor's program.
The plan comes with a few caveats, according to The New York Times: employees must work at least 20 hours per week at Starbucks and meet admission criteria for ASU. The online program at ASU admission requirements are the same as general admission, with average SAT reading and math scores of 508 and 491, respectively, an ACT score of 22, and a high school GPA of at least 3.0 necessary for acceptance.
While restricting this plan to one school might seem limiting, the Arizona State online program is a pretty good one. U.S. News ranks ASU's the ninth-best online bachelor's program in the country. Nearly 200 of the school's full-time faculty teach courses available online (the average teaching experience for online instructors is seven years), the program has a retention rate of roughly 80 percent, and a little more than one-third graduate in three years.
Starbucks isn't sure how many of its 135,000 employees will take them up on the offer, and isn't worried about cost, or the fact that earning a bachelor's degree will likely spur employees to find a better job. (Well, maybe.) CEO Howard Schultz told the Times that the program "would be accreted to our brand, our reputation and our business." If they get nothing else out of it, at least it's good publicity.
ASU's online program runs about $500 ($480-$543) per credit, according to ASU, and 120 credits are necessary for a bachelor's degree. Not a bad deal for students.