Starbucks Tuition Program Would Still Require Up-Front Payments From Students

Seth Richardson | Contributor

Despite nearly universal praise for Starbucks regarding its tuition assistance program it unveiled Monday, the company still found critics, according to the New York Times. (Related: Starbucks Offers Free Tuition For Employees)

The program, which is still obviously in its infancy, is drawing the ire of critics who say the program forces students to pay too much out-of-pocket up front to be effective. To qualify for the program, a student needs to finish 21 credits out of the 120 needed to graduate before he or she sees any reimbursement.

The Times reports Arizona State University usually charges between $480 and $543 per credit. This brings the out-of-pocket cost to more than $10,000.

“Given the upfront cost, it pushes a lot of risk onto the student,” Rachel Fishman said in a blog post on New America Ed Central.

However Starbucks would pay some of the cost up front bringing the total to just more than half that. ASU said they would also work with students in obtaining loans until the reimbursement comes.

Students with at least half the amount of credits for graduation will receive full reimbursement.

The program also covers only 40 majors, much less than regular schools, but still more than none at all.

Even Fishman wasn’t wholly critical of the program.

“The fact that Starbucks is willing to help its employees get a bachelor’s degree is laudable — especially considering that once a student obtains the degree, he does not have to stay with Starbucks,” she said in the blog.

But instead of touting it as a failure, Fishman said she thinks the program needs to do more, such as extend to community college tuition and serve the worker more upfront.

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