Starbucks has announced a program under which it will pick up college education expenses for its employees. Bloomberg reports that the company rolled out a plan to pay for most of the cost of getting a degree through Arizona State University online.
"Starbucks employees who work at least 20 hours a week and enroll in the university’s online bachelor’s degree will get $6,500 — about half of their tuition — for the first two years, the company said in a statement. They will then get full tuition for the final two," the story reports.
In a phone interview, Cliff Burrows, president of Starbucks’ Americas region, said: “We’ve always known that our partners work hard every day. This is the best way we can serve them.”
The report notes: "Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee-shop chain, has offered cafe workers restricted stock, known as Bean Stock, since 1991, and has a 401(k) matching program. Store employees get a free pound of coffee weekly, plus free beverages on work breaks and a 30 percent discount on Starbucks food, drinks and merchandise. The company previously offered as much as $1,000 a year in tuition reimbursement for employees who had worked at Starbucks at least one year."
Burrows said the program is an attempt to ease the financial burden associated with higher education. “This is the most significant investment we’ve made in our partners since the introduction of Bean Stock,” he added.
Student loans have been in focus lately, with word that student borrowers have piled up more than $1.2 trillion in debt. The report notes that the massive debt is "putting a drag on the economy because some young people avoid making big purchases or starting a business."
Bloomberg notes: "President Barack Obama issued an executive order on June 9 to expand a program easing student-loan payments. Still, on June 11, the U.S. Senate blocked a measure to let student-loan borrowers refinance their balances at lower interest rates."
Under the new program, Starbucks employees may take part in any of about 40 programs such as engineering, nursing and business, the report notes.
"Employees working in support centers and roasting facilities, as well as for the Teavana, La Boulange and Evolution Fresh brands, can participate. Workers won’t be required to stay at Starbucks for a specified period after being reimbursed for tuition," Bloomberg adds.