Starbucks offers education discounts for baristas - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Starbucks offers education discounts for baristas

Posted: Updated:

By CANDICE CHOI A

NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks is giving its baristas a shot at an online college degree, an unusual benefit in an industry where higher education is often out of reach for workers.

The coffee chain is partnering with Arizona State University to make an online undergraduate degree available at a steep discount to any of its 135,000 U.S. employees who work at least 20 hours a week.

The program underscores the predicament of many workers who earn low wages, don't have much job security and often hold down more than one job. It also highlights the stark disparities in advancement opportunities between the rich and poor, and how a traditional college education remains a near impossibility for so many.

At an event in New York City on Monday, CEO Howard Schultz told an audience of about 340 Starbucks workers and their guests that the issue was personal because he was the first in his family to attend college.

"I could care less about marketing. This is not about PR," he said of the cynicism he's already encountered about the program.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan also appeared on stage to tell the crowd that education has become increasingly crucial to succeed, given the disappearance of blue-collar jobs that pay well. Duncan urged workers to show other companies why they should follow in Starbucks' footsteps.

"Think of the example you can set for the rest of the nation," Duncan said. "If you guys can do this well ... you're going to change the trajectory of the entire country."

Tuition and room and board has climbed over the years, reaching an average of $18,400 last year for local students at public schools, or $40,900 for private universities, according to the College Board. With prices rising, student loan debt has tripled since 2003 and is now the highest form of household debt after mortgages, according to the Federal Reserve Board of New York.

Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University, said college has moved in a direction "where it's all about exclusion" and that public universities need a new approach to making education accessible. He shot down the notion that an online education is an easy way out.

Starbucks Corp., based in Seattle, said it doesn't know how many workers will apply for its prokgram or how much it will cost over time.

One Starbucks employee from Los Angeles, Michael Bojorquez Echeverria, said he works up to 75 hours a week, including at another job, and attends community college at no cost. But he plans to apply for the Starbucks program because he thinks it will offer greater financial security.

He said he will miss is the socializing that comes with attending school in person. "But hey, if they're going to be paying my fees, I can manage," he said.

Zee Lemke, a Starbucks worker and union organizer in Madison, Wisconsin, said she thought the program could benefit some workers. But she also noted the limitations of the program, since the only option is to earn a degree from a single university's online program.

"Actual in-class experience matters," Lemke said.

Starbucks said workers will have the freedom to pick from 40 educational programs. And they won't be required to stay with the company in exchange for their education.

As with most matters involving financial aid, the terms of the Starbucks program are complicated and would vary depending on the worker's situation. For the freshman and sophomore years, students would pay a greatly reduced tuition after factoring in a scholarship from Starbucks and ASU and financial aid, such as Pell grants.

It would work in much the same way for the junior and senior years, except that Starbucks would reimburse any money that workers pay out of pocket.

That means employees who already have two years of college under their belts would be able to finish school at no cost.

Online tuition at ASU can vary but is about $10,000 a year. Most Starbucks workers would likely qualify for a Pell grant, which can be as high as $5,730 a year. Starbucks did not say how much money it is contributing to the scholarship it's providing with ASU.

Arizona State University's online program, which already has an enrollment of more than 10,000, stands to benefit from the students Starbucks will send its way.

There have been other efforts at offering low-wage workers education benefits. In 2010, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. started offering partial tuition grants for workers at American Public University, a for-profit, online school.

Starbucks also already has program that reimburses workers for up to $1,000 a year at City University of Seattle or at Strayer University. The company said that will be phased out by 2015 in favor of the new program.

Workers would have to meet the same admission standards as other ASU students. Only workers at Starbucks' 8,200 company-operated stores would be eligible. Another 4,500 Starbucks locations are operated by franchisees.

The program is also available to Starbucks' other chains, including Teavana tea shops and Seattle's Best.

___

Follow Candice Choi at www.twitter.com/candicechoi

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • 'Get on Up' and James Brown's Harlem legacy

    'Get on Up' and James Brown's Harlem legacy

    Friday, August 1 2014 5:55 PM EDT2014-08-01 21:55:13 GMT
    "Get on Up" is in theaters now. The film chronicles the career of James Brown, who had a special connection to Harlem and New York. Billy Mitchell is the in-house historian at the historic Apollo Theater. He says the Apollo was a second home to Brown, as it was here where he became an international superstar who appealed to all. But Brown's NYC legacy stretches even further.
    "Get on Up" is in theaters now. The film chronicles the career of James Brown, who had a special connection to Harlem and New York. Billy Mitchell is the in-house historian at the historic Apollo Theater. He says the Apollo was a second home to Brown, as it was here where he became an international superstar who appealed to all. But Brown's NYC legacy stretches even further.
  • Dog found in abandoned home cleaned up and adopted

    Dog found in abandoned home cleaned up and adopted

    Friday, August 1 2014 5:51 PM EDT2014-08-01 21:51:00 GMT
    A 6-year-old Shih Tzu mix that was found in an abandoned home in Lindenhurst two weeks ago now has a new home with a new family. Ziggy has been has been cleaned up and has undergone physical therapy. Babylon town employees took three and a half hours to remove nearly four pounds of matted hair after they found him. Ziggy's fur was so matted and his nails so overgrown that he could barely walk.
    A 6-year-old Shih Tzu mix that was found in an abandoned home in Lindenhurst two weeks ago now has a new home with a new family. Ziggy has been has been cleaned up and has undergone physical therapy. Babylon town employees took three and a half hours to remove nearly four pounds of matted hair after they found him. Ziggy's fur was so matted and his nails so overgrown that he could barely walk.
  • Massive emergency drill in New York City

    Massive emergency drill in New York City

    Friday, August 1 2014 5:14 PM EDT2014-08-01 21:14:45 GMT
    The New York City Department of Health conducted a massive emergency preparedness drill at 30 facilities across the city on Friday. They tested the delivery of emergency medications in the event of a biological attack, such as anthrax, or other large-scale public health emergency in the city. The majority of the deliveries will take place to public school buildings.
    The New York City Department of Health conducted a massive emergency preparedness drill at 30 facilities across the city on Friday. They tested the delivery of emergency medications in the event of a biological attack, such as anthrax, or other large-scale public health emergency in the city. The majority of the deliveries will take place to public school buildings.
Powered by WorldNow

WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
485 S. Highland St.
Memphis, TN 38111

Main Station: (901) 320-1313
Newsroom: (901) 320-1340

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices