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Starbucks Plans to Pay Employees' Tuition for ASU Online

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Some Starbucks workers will be able to get a degree from Arizona State University for free.

ASU and Starbucks made the joint announcement today, in an arrangement that goes beyond a typical corporate tuition-reimbursement program.

According to details released by the company, it will reimburse the full costs of tuition for an ASU online degree, if the employee is a college junior or senior who works at least 20 hours per week. Freshmen will receive partial tuition reimbursement.

"Partners will have no commitment to remain at Starbucks past graduation," the Starbucks explainer says. There's no caveat saying that the degree needs to be relevant to the person's job, which is a typical requirement for corporate tuition reimbursement.

This is worth nearly $6,000 per semester for those juniors and seniors working at Starbucks. For ASU's online degree program, in-state students pay the same as out-of-state students, between $480 and $543 per credit hour. The cost is roughly the same as an on-campus student with in-state tuition, and less than half the average cost of an on-campus student paying out-of-state tuition, according to ASU's tuition figures.

A Q&A document posted by Starbucks explains that company chose ASU for this partnership as "the only University that could stand side-by-side with Starbucks to offer a high-quality education, at scale, to all of our U.S. partners."

According to Starbucks, more than 70 percent of its employees are students or aspiring students.

In a company press release, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says, "The Starbucks College Achievement Plan 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 the conscience of Starbucks."

Here's a promotional video from ASU and Starbucks that features a fair deal of crying:

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