Just one month after Starbucks and Arizona State University announced the expansion of a unique benefit to pay for partners (employees) college education, more than 1,800 have signed up.
“These impressive numbers reflect that the students recognize how a college degree can dramatically elevate the possibilities for their income and quality of life,” said ASU Provost Robert E. Page Jr. “The surge of applications also reflects that today’s students are adaptive learners for whom technology and innovative learning techniques enhance their capacity for knowledge.”
The Starbucks College Achievement Plan offers 100 percent tuition reimbursement for all four years of college. All benefits-eligible Starbucks partners working part time or full time may choose from 50 undergraduate degree programs through ASU Online, with no commitment to stay with the company post-graduation. Starbucks will invest $250 million to help at least 25,000 partners graduate by 2025. With this college program, Starbucks also aims to reach opportunity youth – a population of nearly 6 million people.
More than 2,200 partners have enrolled in the Starbucks College Achievement Plan to date, with 200 Starbucks partners expected to graduate from the program over the next year. Partners from every state have applied – with California, Washington, Arizona and Texas having the highest partner participation. The top degrees Starbucks partners are pursuing through the plan are psychology, organizational leadership, and health sciences.
Journey to a College Degree
Phoenix-area Starbucks store partners Stephanie Schreiner and Karli Stone will be among those receiving bachelor’s degrees at ASU’s spring commencement.
Schreiner started at Starbucks as a barista two years ago when she transferred to ASU’s campus program. When she heard about the launch of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, in June 2014, she switched over to the online program to take advantage of Starbucks full tuition benefit starting that fall.
“Enrolling in the Starbucks College Achievement Plan was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” said Schreiner. “ASU Online offered the opportunity to create my own schedule and have much more flexibility for the last year of school.”
Schreiner completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology while working 40-hour weeks at Starbucks. She wants to stay with the company and become a store manager – and she is also interested in human resources and communications. “I love customer service,” Schreiner said. “Starbucks has a lot of room to grow and I want to stay here.”
Starbucks shift supervisor Karli Stone also enrolled in the Starbucks College Achievement Plan soon after it was announced. She had spent more than three years in the ASU campus program, and transferred to the online degree option created with Starbucks for her final year. She took a full course load through the online program while working full-time at Starbucks.
“Right now, I plan to do counseling and I still have a place in my heart for that,” Stone said. “For now, I love Starbucks and I am passionate about it, so this is who I want to be and where I want to be.” Stone is working toward becoming an assistant store manager at a Phoenix-area Starbucks store and planning her wedding.
The Class of 2015
Partners who are graduating from the Starbucks College Achievement Plan will wear an ASU cap and gown and enjoy the full in-person “pomp and circumstance” of a university commencement ceremony this week. One thing they won’t share with peers graduating from colleges across the country is significant student loan debt.
Nationwide, other members of the class of 2015 will each graduate with $35,051 in student debt on average, according to an analysis of government data by Edvisors – a company that provides information to parents and students about college costs and financial aid. The 2015 figure is about $2,000 more than students who graduated last year.