April 6, 2015 Partner (Employee) Experience

Starbucks and ASU Offer Four Years of College with Full Tuition Coverage

The expanded Starbucks College Achievement Plan will be offered to more than 140,000 full-time and part-time partners (employees) and will also provide a remarkable additional benefit to the 10,000 Opportunity Youth Starbucks has committed to hire

Full tuition coverage is now available for all four years of college with access to 49 online degree programs, with no commitment to stay with Starbucks post-graduation

Nearly 2,000 partners successfully enrolled to date, Starbucks commits to at least 25,000 graduates by 2025.  Over ten years, Starbucks estimated investment could reach up to $250 million or more

SEATTLE and TEMPE, ARIZ.; April 6, 2015 – Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX) and Arizona State University (ASU) today announced that Starbucks College Achievement Plan, first introduced in June 2014, will now offer 100 percent tuition coverage for every eligible U.S. Starbucks partner (employee). As part of its commitment to redefine the role and responsibility of a public company, Starbucks developed this program in partnership with ASU to create additional pathways to opportunity for its partners. Full tuition coverage was previously available to juniors and seniors, but now all eligible part-time or full-time partners can apply for and complete all four years of a bachelor’s degree through ASU’s top-ranked online degree program. In addition to partners receiving full tuition coverage, the company is offering faster tuition reimbursement - now at the end of each semester.   

"Everyone deserves a chance at the American dream," said Howard Schultz, chairman and ceo of Starbucks. "The unfortunate reality is that too many Americans can no longer afford a college degree, particularly disadvantaged young people, and others are saddled with burdensome education debt. By giving our partners access to four years of full tuition coverage, we will provide them a critical tool for lifelong opportunity. We're stronger as a nation when everyone is afforded a pathway to success."

Nearly 2,000 Starbucks partners have already enrolled in the program, and this significant expansion will offer a top-notch education to all full-time and part-time partners, with the opportunity to choose from 49 undergraduate degree programs through ASU Online. The company will invest up to $250 million or more to help at least 25,000 partners graduate by 2025.

Over the next three years, Starbucks has also committed to hiring 10,000 “Opportunity Youth,” a population of nearly six million disconnected youth between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not working or in school. With the right skills and training, Starbucks believes Opportunity Youth represent a huge, untapped talent pool for American businesses, and through employment and access to higher education, hopes to help create a sustainable future for these young Americans.

“The College Achievement Plan has been a powerful demonstration of what is possible when an enlightened and innovative corporation joins forces with a forward-thinking research university,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “This program is a clear expression of Starbucks commitment to its partners and ASU’s continuing mission to provide access to higher education to all qualified students.”

United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, looks to this innovative model from Starbucks and ASU as an example for other industries and businesses. “Howard Schultz and Arizona State University President Michael Crow continue to do incredible work together,” said Secretary Duncan. “Today’s announcement from Starbucks and ASU is another win for students.  Partnerships like this one show how innovative strategies can expand access to college for thousands of students.  I hope more institutions and companies will take their lead to collaborate on ways we can all do more to make higher education more attainable and affordable.”

The value of higher education

There is a clear and demonstrated value of having a college degree, both the opportunity it affords and the measureable impact on earning potential throughout a lifetime.

The disparity between what U.S. college and high school graduates earn has more than doubled in the past 30 years (1). A typical bachelor's degree recipient can expect to earn 66 percent more (compared with a high-school graduate) over a 40-year career (2).

The benefits are not limited to wages alone. On virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment—from personal earnings to job satisfaction to the percentage employed full time—young college graduates are outperforming their peers with less education (3).  And, people with a college degree tend to be healthier, and they exercise more (4).

Those with college educations are even shown to live longer than their peers. Between 1990 and 2008, the life expectancy gap between the most and least educated Americans grew from 13 to 14 years among males and from 8 to 10 years among females. This gap has been widening since the 1960s. At age 25, U.S. adults with a college degree can expect to live nine years longer than those with only a high school diploma (5).

A college education promotes civic and community involvement. An individual with a bachelor’s degree is twice as likely to volunteer as a high school graduate (6), and adults with a higher level of education are twice as likely to vote as those with lower education levels.

College education is crucial to getting a middle-class job – millennials with only a high school degree are more than three times as likely to be unemployed as those with a college degree (7).

The fastest-growing jobs in America all require a college degree. By 2018, 63 percent of all jobs in the economy will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school (8).

As an independent, private foundation, Lumina Foundation is committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with post-secondary credentials, and applauds this innovative program from Starbucks and ASU. “The value of a college degree only continues to increase. But so do the costs of achieving that degree,” said Lumina Foundation President and CEO Jamie Merisotis. “Starbucks is not only recognizing the value of higher education, but is actively addressing the disparity in opportunity to achieve a college degree. By investing directly in their partners, they are also investing in the long-term success of their company and the nation.” 

In addition to benefitting the individual, educated and employed individuals have a positive impact on the national economy. Persistent high unemployment among young people adds up to $25 billion a year in uncollected taxes. One unemployed 18-24-year-old costs federal and state governments more than $4,100 a year in forgone tax revenue and benefits received (9). Educating America’s young people and giving them the best opportunity for a sustainable future and continued employment is a benefit to our economy and society. 

The benefit for Starbucks partners

Through this innovative collaboration, all benefits-eligible partners in the U.S., including Teavana®, La Boulange®, and Evolution Fresh™ partners, who do not already have a college degree, may choose from 49 undergraduate degree programs taught by ASU’s award-winning faculty such as electrical engineering, education, business and retail management. Partners will have no commitment to remain at the company past graduation. This is in addition to the full comprehensive package of benefits that Starbucks offers to its partners – including healthcare coverage, company stock for eligible partners and 401(k) matching.  Starbucks is one of the only retailers to offer a stock program that includes part-time retail hourly partners. 

ASU's online degree programs offer the highest quality and most flexibility, ensuring the best chances for success in achieving a degree. Each course is fully designed to make the most of online learning, and ASU’s highly-engaged faculty are retrained for effective online teaching. ASU is a leader in employing innovative educational technology to deliver tailored academic support. They also invest in the student support services that are critical to reducing drop-out rates, and are ranked first in student services by US News & World Report. The diplomas ASU awards to online students are identical to their on-campus degrees, and their session-to-session student retention rates and graduation rates are extremely strong.  

“I know that there is an entire company standing behind me saying ‘You can do this.’ And that is an incredible feeling,” said Markelle Cullom-Herbison, a three-year Starbucks partner enrolled in ASU Online through the College Achievement Plan. “For me, working at Starbucks is the opportunity for a better future.”

Additional details on this announcement, as well as downloadable photo and video assets – including stories from partners currently enrolled in the College Achievement Plan – are all available on the Starbucks Newsroom http://news.starbucks.com/collegeplan

About Starbucks

Since 1971, Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting high-quality arabica coffee. Today, with stores around the globe, the company is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. Through our unwavering commitment to excellence and our guiding principles, we bring the unique Starbucks Experience to life for every customer through every cup. To share in the experience, please visit us in our stores or online at http://news.starbucks.com

About Arizona State University

Arizona State University is one of the nation’s leading public research universities and is ranked among the top 100 universities in the world. Known for innovation and entrepreneurism, ASU has pioneered the model for a New American University with a focus on accessibility and quality education, training students to learn for a lifetime. According to its mission, ASU “will be measured not by who we exclude, but rather by who we include and how they succeed; pursuing research and discovery that benefits the public good; assuming major responsibility for the economic, social, and cultural vitality and health and well-being of the community.”

(1) David H. Autor, Associate Department Head, MIT Department of Economics and author 

(2) U.S. Department of Labor 

(3) Pew Research Center

(4) The College Board 

(5) Center on Society and Health 

(6) Bureau of Labor Statistics, (2015), Volunteering in the United States, 2014 

(7) Baum, S., Jennifer, M., Payea, K., (2013); Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current population, Pew Research Center

(8) Carnevale, Smith and Strohl, “Help Wanted” at 13. full article 

(9) In This Together: The Hidden Cost of Young Adult Unemployment (January 2014)

For more information on this news release, contact us