Starbucks Offers Free College Education to Workers

Monday, June 16, 2014

Customers relax and drink their beverages at a Starbucks Coffee shop on January 28, 2009 in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty)

Is the ultimate job perk a college education?

Starbucks has announced that it will provide a free online college education to thousands of its workers, without requiring that they remain with the company.

The deal involves Arizona State University and is open to any of the company’s 135,000 employees in the U.S.

There are two provisions: Workers need to put in at least 20 hours a week and have the grades and test scores to gain admission to Arizona State.

But this is an online offer, so what's it really worth? Charlie Herman, business and economics editor for Takeaway co-producer WNYC, weighs in.

What do you think? Vote below in our poll.


Charlie Herman


T.J. Raphael

Comments [7]

NABNYC from SoCal

The U.S. spends EIGHT HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS a year on our public education system (according to USC, link below). Wall Street and the tech industry, supported by the politicians they own in both parties, want to see public education ended and replaced with a for-profit private education system.

Students will be told to stay home and watch TV to "see" their lessons. Parents are already being told that this will allow their kids to get a better education, while keeping them safe from pedophiles, gun violence, and people who sell drugs at schools. The for-profit corporate/Wall Street education will, of course, cost a tiny fraction of the money that will be paid to them. The difference, the "profit," will go into the pockets of tech, Wall Street, and the politicians they own.

Of course the children will be denied a real education. In addition, they will be denied any concept of being part of a community, which is good for the same money-players, who want people to be contract workers, non-union, and isolated. Either the big-money people are paying Starbucks to do this, to spread the idea that online education is "cool," or the owner of Starbucks has already invested. In either event, and for the record, few people are able to complete any comprehensive education program online. You need teachers and other students to make the experience worthwhile. Amount spent on education in the U.S. per year:

Jun. 17 2014 12:58 PM

Hey wait a minute: Is this only for "young" workers at Starbucks?
There are a lot of people who are over the age of 30, much older such as in their 40s and 50s who would like to go back to school and are intelligent and would contribute to society and the economy if they could finish school or go to college for the first time when they did not have a chance to do so anytime previously.

Starbucks can get some good PR and assist an underrepresented consensus at the same time.

Jun. 17 2014 12:56 PM
Mabel from NYC

Unfortunately Starbucks is discontinuing their current tuition reimbursement program that, while small, applied to any college. In lieu of additional financial aid, employees may be better off taking classes at a local community college and transferring to ASU when they attain junior standing. I applaud the effort and hope it is widely used.

Jun. 17 2014 10:05 AM
ben from New City

I've read elsewhere, in more detail, that it is assisted, not free, unless one is already a junior or senior.

Jun. 17 2014 09:38 AM
Bala Subramanian from USA

The question that need asking is, is college education necessarily needed/good for humanity; especially the kind that only delivers and provides a mere delivery receipt? Knowledge gained without its application, is knowledge ungained, is that not true? In my view as a society we need to figure out how to apply what we already know, rather than trying to deliver something to more people what will not be utilized by them anyway.Does that make sense?

Jun. 17 2014 09:37 AM
Ron Savarese from New York, New York

Having worked for an organization that in 1980 offered this same opportunity, this is win, win, win!
The ROI should be obvious to all and I do hope many more "for profit" corporations will follow this example. I now hold a PhD and thank my humble beginnings for that life's opportunity. Let sit down and discuss this further over coffee!

Jun. 17 2014 08:58 AM

America needs to provide assistance to our young people--either forgiveness of loans over 20,000 and at a much lower interest or educating them would even be better.!!!!!!

Jun. 16 2014 03:54 PM

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