Today, Starbucks definitely has my attention and my respect. As a parent who three years from now will be watching her oldest graduate from high school and begin his college career not long after, the cost of college is on my mind frequently. Starbucks has announced it’s offering full- and part-time workers two years of free college tuition at Arizona State University’s online program beginning this fall, and this could be a game changer for many who thought a bachelor's degree was financially out of reach.

The Starbucks College Achievement Plan is designed to help students get out of college without debt, something that is increasingly crippling college graduates and dropouts, including sending them into bankruptcy. ASU President Michael Crow said the partnership between Starbucks and his university is designed to alleviate that.

"Starbucks decided human capital is one of the most important things they can invest in," Crow said. "Everybody is concerned about what are the ways to get through college."
I am blown away by the first details of this plan coming out. All Starbucks employees who work at least 20 hours are eligible if they don’t already have a bachelor’s degree. Juniors and seniors will earn full tuition reimbursement for each year of coursework they complete that counts toward a bachelor’s in more than 40 undergrad programs. Freshman and sophomores can apply for a partial scholarship and need-based financial aid.

That’s impressive enough, but there's more. Anyone who takes advantage of this program has no commitment to remain at Starbucks past graduation. Starbucks employees will also receive a dedicated enrollment coach, financial aid counselor and academic advisor.

This video about the Starbucks College Achievement Plan should give you goose bumps, possibly even bring you to tears, when you see and hear some of the employees (and their parents) who now see a bright future ahead of them because of this program. Starbuck’s CEO Howard Shultz is interviewed halfway through the video, and you will want to cheer when you hear him say why the company is doing this.

I love that Shultz wants to serve his employees as well as his customers and believes that businesses and business leaders “must do more for their people and more for the communities we serve.”

I wonder how many graduating seniors and others who didn’t think college was in their reach are heading to their local Starbucks today and filling out an job application?

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