Thursday, June 19, 2014

Starbucks To Pay For Barista Degrees?

I thought they all had "humanities" or "communications" degrees already :-)

Turns out that there's less here than meets the eye in Starbucks' recent announcement:
It turns out Starbucks isn't contributing any upfront scholarship money to an online college degree program it introduced this week.

The Seattle-based company unveiled a program Monday that included a scholarship it described as "an investment" between Starbucks and Arizona State University. The program is designed to allow Starbucks workers to earn an online degree at the school at a steeply discounted rate.

Initially, Starbucks said that workers would be able to offset the costs through an upfront scholarship it was providing with Arizona State, but declined to say exactly how much of the cost it was shouldering. The chain estimated the scholarship would average about $6,500 over two years to cover tuition of about $20,000.

Following the announcement, however, Arizona State University President Michael Crow told The Chronicle of Higher Education that Starbucks is not contributing any money toward the scholarship. Instead, Arizona State will essentially charge workers less than the sticker price for online tuition. Much of the remainder would likely be covered by federal aid since most Starbucks workers don't earn a lot of money.

Workers would pay whatever costs remained out of pocket for the first two years, and Starbucks would bear no costs.
If there's a hero here, it's more likely ASU and definitely not Starbucks.


PeggyU said...

If there's a hero here, it's most likely the tax payer, since the remainder would be covered by federal aid!

maxutils said...

I really wanted to let this one slide, without comment, but Peggy U ... I can't. First, Darren ... I'll let the Barista joke slide, even though it's an old joke (Q"What do you call a graduated psychology or any other LA major you don't care for A: Barista") But you took an on line course to get your masters' ... and I won't criticize that either, because unlike so many teachers seeking the pay bump, you took a real course related to your field ... and I know you have the integrity to have done all the work yourself. But after doing that? It's not really cool to mock other on-line programs. And Starbucks? sure, they cut a deal with a university that was willing to play -- and maybe it's not the greatest thing they could do for their employees, but it's SOMETHING. And Peggy U -- I don't even understand your comment. If the exact same student had done the exact same thing without Starbucks, they would have still been able to obtain Federal 'aid' which isn't really aid -- it's loans. But the amount needed would be larger. In addition? The fact that ASU just got a huge shot of revenue from Starbucks that costs them virtually no extra costs means that Arizonans now will face lower fees. I thought we financial conservatives liked less government and more private enterprise ... but go ahead, mock away.

Darren said...

Max, Jesus Christ, your reading comprehension skills are pathetic. How, and on what planet, did you draw the conclusion that I'm criticizing the online program?

Go read what I wrote, and what I quoted, AGAIN, this time for understanding, and then come back.

maxutils said...

I read an comprehended what *you* wrote just fine. You made the joke with the appropriate smiley face, and then closed with one sentence "If there's a hero here, it's ASU, and definitely not Starbucks." But ... that's not true. Starbucks initiated the program, and is taking money from its coffers to subsidize its employees' education ... ASU is accepting a guaranteed stream of revenue for something which costs them almost nothing. As I pointed out. ASU might be 'heroic', I guess ...but they are just trying to maximize 'profit' -- although as a public institution, they don't get to make profit. Starbucks, on the other hand, is giving up potential profit to help their Baristas an education which will likely encourage them to leave their firm. Why is that less heroic? Just because they're putting limits on it? They aren't required to do anything.

Darren said...

My joke had nothing to do with online degrees. I don't know where you got that from.

And you're correct that Starbucks doesn't have to do anything, but given what I read *in the linked article*, I'm not convinced Starbucks deserves the fellatio it's getting in the press:

"To cover the remainder in the freshman and sophomore years, workers would apply for financial aid, such as Pell grants, and pay for the rest either out of pocket or by taking out loans. Starbucks would bear no costs in those years.

"For the junior and senior years, Starbucks would reimburse workers for whatever tuition they had to cover either upfront or through loans, once they complete 21 credits."

Read more here:

21 credits, isn't that almost an entire year? Out of 2?

allen (in Michigan) said...

I'm not all that convinced there are any good guys here.

College tuitions have spiraled so far out of control that, even with the idiotic college loan programs to suck in the unwary, there are lots of kids who simply can't afford to go to college. There's also enough noise about former students stuck under mountains of debt that the enthusiasm for a degree is dampened.

Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit has had an on-going series posts about the closing of a whole slew of small colleges. Especially small law schools but even the big, name schools are seeing a drop-off in applications. I wonder to what extent this phenomena's motivated ASU?

PeggyU said...

I'm with Allen. Maxutils, I wasn't attempting to "mock" anyone, just to point out that everything is subsidized in the end, so it's difficult to sort out who is really being generous here. It isn't a matter of Starbucks simply giving its employees scholarships. I certainly don't have a problem with a business treating its employees well.

Schools get federal and state subsidies so that they can lower their tuition costs but that's not news. And you're right, the students would get federal financial aid even if it didn't come via ASU. Some of that would be loans and some grants, which are not paid back. However, Starbucks no doubt receives some tax benefit for this participation and also earns the good will of its employees, so it does reap some benefit.

I happen to think that subsidizing education drives up the cost, so I'm not in favor of it - no matter how warm and fuzzy it looks in stories like this. In the end, I don't know that they are doing students a real favor because actual costs are hidden. I think people would be better consumers of education services if they saw the true cost.

maxutils said...

Darren - I got the joke, and yes I realized it targeted any 'useless' major, not online degrees. Although I would toss most of those degrees into the same heap.
Allen- I agree with you that the rise in tuitions is the fundamental problem. It would be useful to figure out why--my suspicion is that the number of slots in universities has not risen to meet the demand of the 'everyone must go to college or they're a failure' fad.
Peggy - Looking at it that way, I see your point, and I apologize for being snippy. However ... my point was that those same students COULD fund the whole thing through federal aid and loans ... so anything Starbucks does potentially lessens taxpayer burden, and therefore is better for taxpayers ... unless you assume that the people taking advantage would never have done that otherwise. So ... Starbucks may not be a hero, but they're at least a good guy.

Ellen K said...

On the other hand, the much maligned ChikFilA has been running a scholarship program for years. Students who have worked for a year can apply. There are also programs for couples, and programs for children at various camps owned by ChikFilA. My oldest two were proud recipients of these scholarships. And they could use them for any college they chose.