This news will probably justify the expense of your next Frappuccino.
In a surprising announcement, Starbucks is giving an amazing new perk to its workers across the country: A free college education.
The New York Times reports that the coffee powerhouse will pay tuition for any of its 135,000 employees to attend online college classes at Arizona State University as part of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.
Incredibly, workers don’t even have to remain with Starbucks after receiving their degree — encouraging them to leave coffee-making for better jobs. Starbucks president and CEO Howard D. Schultz told the newspaper that he wants employee success to be “accreted to our brand, our reputation and our business,” and adds, “I believe it will lower attrition, it’ll increase performance, it’ll attract and retain better people.”
To qualify, an employee must work at least 20 hours a week at Starbucks and have the test scores necessary for admission into ASU. Employees who’ve already completed two years of college credits will have their tuition fully paid for. For those with less than two years of college, the company will pay partial tuition costs.
The company is also providing a dedicated enrollment coach, financial aid counselor, and academic advisor.
The fact is, the American education system is flawed; our $1.2 trillion student loan crisis proves it. These days, you need a college degree in order to land a competitive, well-paid job — but too many people have to go into a mountain of debt to obtain a degree. As Schultz says in the video below, “the last few years in America, we have certainly seen a fracturing of what I’d loosely describe as the American dream or the American promise.”
He continues, “there’s no doubt the inequality within the country has created a situation where many, many Americans are being left behind. And the question I think for all of us is, ‘Should we accept that, or should we try to do something about it?'”
According to the Times report, “70 percent of Starbucks workers do not have a degree but want to earn one; some have never gone to college, some have gone but dropped out, and others are in school, but have found it slow going.”
While employer-paid college tuition isn’t something new, it’s not very common. And programs like this are unheard of. Most companies want their workers to study subjects that will suit the company’s needs, while Starbucks allows employees to choose from 40 of ASU’s educational programs, from retail management to electrical engineering. (It’s also worth mentioning that the very successful global coffee company also offers health care for all employees — full- and part-time — and gives stock options, too).
As we previously reported, Shultz is the quintessential social innovator and philanthropist. This past March, he donated an extraordinary $30 million to help with the rehabilitation of our returning soldiers, putting the money towards research into brain trauma and PTSD — ailments that thousands of warriors suffer from.
Let’s go ahead and say it: Best boss ever.