Starbucks' Brand of Tuition Assistance Offers Bachelor's Degrees for Military, Veterans and Families

The Starbucks College Achievement Plan is a powerful benefit of working for the company. (Courtesy of Starbucks)

At a time when the U.S. Army is cutting education benefits and the future of military tuition assistance is uncertain, there are still civilian companies who want to make sure that veterans and other military-connected Americans get the benefit of a four-year degree.

Starbucks, a longtime supporter of military and veteran causes, just graduated the latest class of students from its Starbucks College Achievement Plan, one of the many benefits of working for the company. A partnership with Arizona State University provides Starbucks employees with their first bachelor's degree 100% tuition free, graduating more than 13,000 employees -- 200 of which are military -- who took advantage of the program since its inception.

Access to the Starbucks College Achievement Plan is probably one of the best benefits of working for the company, but for military families in particular it's more than just a perk; it's something that can extend to family members as well. Students still need to pay for books and supplies, but tuition is (again) free and ASU's 150-plus degree programs are available online.

Enya is a Starbucks employee, Navy veteran and military spouse who earned a bachelor's degree with the Starbucks College Achievement Plan and will use her GI Bill for a higher degree. (Courtesy of Starbucks).

For Starbucks employees, using the Starbucks College Achievement Plan is simple. Fill out an information request online, and an ASU counselor will reach out to get the admissions and financial aid process started. Military dependents and children of veteran Starbucks employees should call 844-ASU-SBUX (278-7289) and mention their status as a military-connected family member to start the process.

Starbucks gets its ideas for programs and benefits that support the military community from its veteran employee resource group (ERG), called the Starbucks Armed Forces Network. Many corporations have ERGs for employees from underserved and minority populations who work to inform the employer about the best way to support them. An employer with an all-veteran ERG is not only a hallmark of a military-friendly company, it means they often have high job satisfaction and veteran employee retention rates.

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The Starbucks Armed Forces Network has come up with many great ways to support the company's military employees. The company offers a special relocation policy for spouses and reservists, offers free mental health counseling sessions through a special provider, and has designated more than 250 of its locations as Military Family Stores where veterans and families can meet and have a chance to connect with each other, even if they're far from home. They also have the goal of hiring at least 5,000 vets and military spouses every year in the United States.

Starbucks (somehow, somewhere) picked up an undeserved reputation for not supporting the U.S. military, a notion the company has tried to dispel for more than two decades. Now, a new generation of veterans and family members who live free of student debt could finally put the rumor to bed.

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