Starbucks Offers Employees Steep Discounts for Online Classes

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As with most matters involving financial aid, the terms of the new program are somewhat complicated and will vary depending on each worker’s situation.

Tuition for an online degree at ASU is about $10,000 a year, roughly the same for its traditional educational programs. For the freshmen and sophomore years, Starbucks and Arizona State say they will put around $6,500 on average toward the estimated $20,000 in total tuition.

To cover the remaining $13,500, workers would apply for financial aid. Since Starbucks workers don’t earn a lot of money, many would likely qualify for a Pell grant, said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of, a website about paying for college. If a worker qualified for a full Pell grant of $5,730 a year — or $11,460 over the two years — he or she would theoretically be left with about $2,040 to pay out of pocket.

The program would work similarly for the junior and senior years, except that Starbucks would reimburse any money workers end up having to pay out of pocket. Starbucks said most of its workers have already started school, so could potentially finish off their degrees at no cost if they applied for the program. The company says the program will be available to workers at its other chains as well, including Teavana tea shops and Seattle’s Best.

The program is available only to workers at Starbucks’ 8,200 company-operated locations. Another 4,500 U.S. locations are operated by franchisees.

Kantrowitz said the new program at Starbucks has the potential to benefit all parties involved. Workers will get a chance to earn a degree in a relatively affordable way, and Starbucks could attract a better pool of workers. Arizona State University will also have a major employer potentially sending lots of students its way.

“It’s a way to expand revenue,” he said of the online programs offered by traditional, brick-and-mortar universities.

Enrollment for Arizona State University’s online program already stands at around 10,000.

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