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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Tracewell

Coffee, Cash, and College


Prospective college students have some unique options these days when it comes to creative financing of their future dreams. A growing number of employers are offering free college tuition to their employees, and the incentive of a Bachelor’s degree just for continuing to be a valued employee is attracting thousands of students.


Starbucks is the original leader in this generous tuition assistance movement, and its relationship with Arizona State University’s online degree programs is a stellar example. Baristas everywhere are whipping up lattes, collecting cash, and graduating from college debt-free.


Go to college, on us. Receive 100% coverage at Arizona State University with the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. — Starbucks

Why: Starbucks has a long history of innovation in industry and their bachelor’s degree partnership with Arizona State University was just another step toward their mission of developing and supporting their employees' skills. With the rising costs of college, baristas and workers were eager to find opportunities to become college graduates and improve their futures.


Who: Any Starbucks employee who’s worked at least 160 hours over the course of two consecutive months is eligible for the ASU tuition program.


Benefits eligibility is determined by your work state, the hours for which you are paid, your position, and your length of employment. You can learn about benefits eligibility here.

How: Apply to Arizona State University through a special Starbucks portal, not the general admission application or the Common App. Here, students build their profiles and ensure they’re part of the free tuition program. Starbucks even provides students with a success coach to walk them through the process!

Is this for me? It’s important to check out the degrees offered by ASU online and see if any of the programs align with your career goals, planned college major, and general interests. There’s a broad offering (over 60 bachelor's degrees to choose from), mostly in the fields of business, human resources, management, finance, and design. A limitation to understand is that the Starbucks/ASU partnership only applies to an online bachelor’s degree. If you’re hoping to live on campus and have the full college experience, you’ll need to consider another pathway to college.


Starbucks is the early leader in the free tuition for employees movement, but other companies have taken note of their success, especially in the current market of employee shortages, and are offering similar options. Target, Walmart, Amazon, Home Depot, and UPS are other large companies jumping into the free-college frenzy. Waste Management has even offered to pay for college degrees and professional certificates for employees as well as their spouses and children. Check their lists of which colleges and programs are included in their education assistance benefits programs. Many students need to work while attending college anyway, so it’s a win-win situation.


Why not consider this innovative way to further your education, save money, and reach your goals?

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