Does Starbucks Pay for College? Yes, Here’s How.

A growing list of companies pay employees' college tuition bills — the world's leading coffee chain is one of them.
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  • Full- and part-time Starbucks employees can attend Arizona State University online for free.
  • Just three months' work unlocks this benefit for U.S. workers without bachelor's degrees.
  • While the program partners with a single school, it covers over 140 diverse programs.

A long list of U.S. companies, including Amazon, Apple, Disney, Ford, Home Depot, Microsoft, as well as a certain Seattle-based coffee corporation, offer college tuition reimbursement to employees.

That long list has grown longer in the last year alone, but Starbucks was among the first to extend the benefit to all employees back in 2014. It runs one of the most generous programs: Work part-time for a U.S. Starbucks or Starbucks-owned business for three months and you qualify — plus, there's no requirement to remain with Starbucks post-graduation.

The Starbucks College Achievement Plan (SCAP) covers 100% of tuition and fees for over 140 online undergraduate degrees at Arizona State University. While other companies limit covered programs based on market or company needs, SCAP includes the full spectrum of ASU disciplines, from the arts and humanities to STEM and IT.

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Companies have long reimbursed white-collar employees who pick up extra credentials or higher degrees, with the understanding that their continued education directly benefits the employer. Only recently have these education benefits been extended to "frontline workers."

The current wave of employer-paid college programs focuses on workers without bachelor's degrees. At Starbucks, all part- and full-time U.S. employees seeking bachelor's degrees for the first time are eligible.

The benefits of free college programs appear to go both ways. Employees are empowered to advance while avoiding debt; meanwhile, employers are better able to attract and retain quality help. Participating employees stay on longer in order to make use of the benefit.

Starbucks' College Program

All current U.S. employees, regardless of role, are eligible for SCAP. Tuition and fees are covered, but other educational expenses — like textbooks, devices, and supplies — are not. However, other financial aid may help out with these costs.

The program's only stipulations are remaining employed at Starbucks and not already holding a bachelor's degree. Employees currently attending college elsewhere may transfer to ASU to take advantage of the program.

For former military service members, Starbucks pushes the perks even further. A veteran employed at Starbucks may extend SCAP benefits to a dependent family member.

Steps to Participating in Starbucks College Achievement Plan (SCAP)

  1. 1

    Work Part-Time for Starbucks for 3 Months

    Employees must work a minimum of 240 hours over three consecutive months — which amounts to 20 hours a week — then work another month to establish eligibility. You're approved to apply on the first day of the second month.

  2. 2

    Apply to Arizona State University

    Apply to ASU online undergraduate programs at starbucks.asu.edu. There, you'll submit official transcripts from high school and any previous colleges. Need help? Enrollment coaching is available at (844) ASU-SBUX.

    For those not sure what to study, ASU has designed an interactive game to gauge prospective students' interest in data, things, people, and ideas to find their right major.

  3. 3

    Fill Out the FAFSA

    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) provides government agencies and colleges with students' financial information in order to award need-based scholarships and grants. All SCAP students are required to fill out the FAFSA for every year they participate — in part because Starbucks isn't the only entity footing the bill.

    Each semester, SCAP students have their tuition covered first through ASU College Achievement Plan (CAP) Scholarships, then by any applicable need-based federal aid grants, and thirdly by the Starbucks Tuition Benefit.

  4. 4

    Once Admitted, Register for Classes

    The ASU admittance process is the same for all students, whether or not Starbucks will be paying their way. The final step for admitted students is to enroll for classes. ASU has more start dates per year than most schools: Two in the fall semester, two in the spring semester, and two in the summer semester. Aim to apply at least a month before you wish to start classes.

    And for students who aren't admitted? There's another way. Starbucks helps employees who aren't initially admitted into ASU due to past academic performance — like low grades in high school — through the Pathway to Admission program. The program pays for up to 10 college-level courses. Use these courses to establish a GPA of 2.75 or better and earn admission to ASU.

According to the American Council of Education, some 20% of graduate students and 6% of undergraduates receive financial assistance from their employers to attend school. Starbucks is doing its part to push these numbers even higher: the company set a goal of producing 25,000 graduates by 2025.