Online college will be free for Starbucks workers

Not all Starbucks baristas have a bachelor’s degree in film studies. Seventy percent want a degree, but haven’t completed college. Now, those who work at least 20 hours a week will be able to take online courses to complete a bachelor’s degree on the company’s dime. Starbucks has partnered with Arizona State’s online program, which offers 40 majors.

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  1. Now, if Starbucks would monitor the course offerings for quality assurance real change in education might be possible.

    The key would be to deny support for course where the professors don’t stay on topic or the course material isn’t rigorous enough.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      I made a snarky comment when I first heard this, to the point that I was surprised they didn’t all already have degrees. I should have known. What is truly surprising is that so many do.
      If Sbux restricts the aid to students in certain majors, that could be a game-changer. Not that they will, but they’re in a position to.
      I may have misplaced a comma, but my quick mental math put the potential expense at about $4 billion. Anybody know if that’s right?

      • Mark Roulo says:

        “I may have misplaced a comma, but my quick mental math put the potential expense at about $4 billion. Anybody know if that’s right?”

        135,000 total Starbucks employees, so about 100,000 who don’t have degrees and might be interested.
        $500 per unit from ASU-Online, but you still have to get admitted (so SAT scores must be good enough … or whatever).
        What assumptions are you making about how many Starbucks employees can get in to ASU (required to take the classes … this isn’t open admission)? How many of them work 20+ hours/week? How many of them have completed more than two years of college (below this, Starbucks helps, but doesn’t pay the whole thing)? How many units/quarter per student are you assuming?

        • Richard Aubrey says:

          A news report said there were about 135,000 eligible and the program would cost $30k each. I presumed all would take advantage of it in order to see the max exposure.
          The reality would be less, of course, but somebody upstairs should be figuring the reality with some generous fudge factors. I expect most employees with even a minimal eligibility would take a run at it. That might mean a course or two, or an enrollment and drop out. So the total cost will be less.
          I was interested in the max exposure–used to be in insurance.

          • Mark Roulo says:

            My guess is:
            (1) Most of the 100K or 135K have less than 2 years of college, so they’ll not be costing Starbucks $30K/year. Probably much less.
            (2) Very few employees will sign up for a full college load. Many of those will drop back once they try to work and finish 15 units at one time.
            (3) A lot of the employees won’t be admitted to ASU.
            Put these all together and Starbucks isn’t going to be on the hook for $4B/year. Probably less than 10% of that. And keep in mind that Starbucks can alter the program if it is costing too much money.

          • Richard Aubrey says:

            Mark. I figured $4 billion total, not per year. So Sbux must be figuring there’s a hell of a lot of margin in brown water, or the offer isn’t going very far in the real world.
            I don’t frequent Sbux. Didn’t like it when it was new and all the wannabe elititists used it in every third sentence. Now that the rest of the population is in there, the wannabes have to signify their wonderfulness some other way.
            Be interesting to know how many can’t, as opposed to don’t apply, get into ASU. ASU might pare back the minimums just a bit, to clear the tracks for the gravy train.