BEND, OR -- Starbucks announced this week plans to expand the tuition reimbursement program, to provide four years of paid college for employees through Arizona State University's online campus. There are stipulations -- employees must not already have a four-year degree, and workers at Starbucks' inside grocery stores don't qualify.
KBND News spoke with Starbucks customers at the Cascade Village Shopping Center in Bend, Tuesday. Virginia Sponsler of Bend says she likes the idea of patronizing a business that supports its employees.
"Well, I think Starbucks is a good employer and it's an excellent plan," Sponsler says. "I'm in agreement that you don't have to pay it back or work for Starbucks after you graduate. Anything that promotes work and opportunities while going to school, I think that's great."
Another customer, Liz Karkula, agrees. "I think when companies treat their employees right, that makes me want to support that company," Karkula says. "Working so hard to get my education, I definitely support that."
Until now, Starbucks only offered two years of undergraduate tuition reimbursement. Nikki Zink of Bend says her sister works for Starbucks in California and is already planning to take advantage of the program. "I think it's a wonderful program! I don't know the criteria for them. [My sister] just texted me and said she's going back to school -- she wants to study health sciences."
The company's CEO expects to spend at least $250 million to help 25,000 employees get their Bachelor's degree from ASU in the next 10 years.