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Starbucks Gives Free Tuition to Employees

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Forget the shot of espresso: As many as 135,000 Starbucks’ employees will have a shot at education today, with the help of the company’s College Achievement plan.

The new plan was unveiled on the heels of President Obama’s executive action last Monday to combat climbing student debt loans. Starbucks will partner with Arizona State University to offer full and partial scholarships to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the online program of their choice. There are 40 undergraduate majors within the ASU online degree program.

The College Achievement Plan is open to U.S.-based employees who do not have a bachelor’s degree and are working at the company’s support centers or other franchises including Seattle’s Best Coffee, Teavana, Evolution Fresh or La Boulange. To qualify, they must work at least 20 hours a week and meet the academic standards for admission to ASU.

Once they qualify, those who are admitted to ASU as freshmen and sophomores will get a partial scholarship from Starbucks along with need-based financial aid from the government and university towards their degree. Those who are admitted as juniors and seniors will get full tuition.

Once Starbucks employees complete their studies, there is no requirement to stay with the company or repay the money they’ve earned.

With tough economic times, this program will target the 100,000 young people employed at Starbucks — the majority of whom don’t have a college degree, according to Howard Schultz, president and CEO of Starbucks.

"There's no doubt, the inequality within the country has created a situation where many Americans are being left behind,” Schultz said in a statement. “Supporting our partners' ambitions is the very best investment Starbucks can make. Everyone who works as hard as our partners do should have the opportunity to complete college, while balancing work, school and their personal lives."

ASU and Starbucks anticipate a large enrollment in the College Achievement plan, which is set to begin this Fall. To learn more about the program, go to the Starbucks College Achievement Plan homepage.

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