Enter the $2,000 Nitro Scholarship now! Apply in 3 Minutes!

One Totally Legit Way to Go to Online College for Free in 2020

If you're not thrilled about the prospect of having to pay full tuition for online classes in the fall, you should know there's a way that you can take full-credit online college courses for FREE. How? By nabbing a part-time job at Starbucks. 

New Call-to-action

Not only does Starbucks offer generous tuition reimbursement to all benefits-eligible employees, there are are also few restrictions in what you can study—that is, as long as you choose something from Arizona State University's (ASU) extensive list of online offerings. Let's dig into the details of how this program works. 

1. Get hired at Starbucks

So ... chances are there a lot of Starbucks stores within a reasonable commute to most cities and suburbs. Call around or stop in and find out which ones are hiring. 

2. Become benefits-eligible

One totally amazing thing about Starbucks is that they offer benefits, including health insurance and tuition reimbursement, to part-time employees as well as full-time employees. 

Full-time employees are eligible for full benefits after two months. Part-time employees are eligible after working 160 hours over a two-month consecutive period. That comes out to about 80 hours a month, or 20 hours a week.

3. Check out the Starbucks College Achievement Plan

Here's where things start to get really good: Starbucks employees who do not yet have bachelor's degrees are eligible to take classes online through Arizona State University. 

Unlike many employers, Starbucks doesn't limit what you can major in. That means you're generally eligible for reimbursement for any of ASU's online bachelor's programs.  If you're already enrolled at another college, you may be able to transfer those credits to ASU.

Current Starbucks partners can sign up here

4. Apply for financial aid

Starbucks will only reimburse for tuition not covered by federal financial aid. That means you'll need to apply for the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, to find out how much assistance you're eligible for. 

All Starbucks employees will receive a scholarship from ASU good for 42% of their total tuition. Anything not covered by this scholarship or financial aid will be reimbursed by Starbucks. 

5. Enroll at Arizona State University (ASU)

ASU is a fully accredited college, meaning that your degree should be recognized within professional industries, as well as by other colleges if you should choose to transfer credits or go on to a graduate degree. 

Plus, ASU was ranked as one of America’s Top Colleges by Forbes magazine and as the #1 most innovative school in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

To use your tuition reimbursement, enroll in one of ASU's many online bachelor degree programs. There are 80 programs to choose from, including:

  • Healthy Lifestyles Coaching (Health Sciences) (BS)
  • Economics (BS) - Liberal Arts
  • Technical Communication (BS)
  • Anthropology (BA)
  • Biochemistry (BS)
  • History (BA)
  • Art (Digital Photography) (BFA)
  • Technological Entrepreneurship and Management (BS)
  • Community Advocacy and Social Policy (BA)
  • Health Sciences (BAS)
  • Psychology - Forensic Psychology (BA)
  • Information Technology (BS)
  • Digital Audiences (BS)
  • Interdisciplinary Studies - Organizational Studies (BA)
  • Health Education and Health Promotion (BS)
  • Internet & Web Development (Applied Science BAS)
  • Psychology - Forensic Psychology (BS)
  • Interdisciplinary Studies (BA)
  • Supply Chain Management (BS)
  • Business - Global Leadership (BA)
  • Psychology (BS)
  • Operations Management (Applied Science BAS)
  • Biological Sciences (BS)
  • Justice Studies (BS)
  • Business - Sustainability (BA) 
  • Business - Tourism (BA)
  • Art History (BA)
  • Health Entrepreneurship and Innovation (BAS)
  • Liberal Studies (BLS)
  • Business - Global Logistics Management (BA)
  • Marketing (BS)
  • Business - Communication (BA)
  • Health Entrepreneurship and Innovation (BS)
  • Mass Communication and Media Studies (BA)
  • Global Health (BA)
  • Management (BS)
  • Communication (BS)
  • Applied Leadership (BAS)
  • Nursing - RN to BSN
  • Business - Retail Management (BA)
  • Business Data Analytics (BS)
  • Criminology and Criminal Justice (BS)
  • Technical Communication - User Experience (BS)
  • Organizational Leadership (BA)
  • Women and Gender Studies (BA)
  • Community Health (BS)
  • Educational Studies (BAE)
  • International Public Health (BIPH)
  • Philosophy (BA)
  • Geography (BS)
  • Health Care Coordination (BS)
  • Electrical Engineering (BSE)
  • Electrical Engineering - Electric Power and Energy Systems (BSE)
  • Speech and Hearing Science (BS)
  • Political Science (BA)
  • Geography (BA)
  • Business - Business Administration (BA)
  • Engineering Management (BSE)
  • English (BA)
  • Geographic Information Science (BS)
  • Political Science (BS)
  • Sustainability (BA)
  • Sustainability (BS)
  • Family & Human Development (BS)
  • Religious Studies - Religion, Culture and Public Life (BA)
  • Psychology (BA)
  • Urban Planning (BSP)
  • Philosophy (Morality, Politics and Law) (BA)
  • Film & Media Studies (BA)
  • Computer Information Systems (BS)
  • Sociology (BS)
  • Public Service and Public Policy (BS)
  • Nutrition (BS)
  • Business - Food Industry Management (BA)
  • Tourism and Recreation Management (BS)
  • Software Engineering (BS)
  • Public Service and Public Policy - Emergency Management Homeland Security (BS)
  • Global Studies (BA)
  • Graphic Information Technology (BS)
  • Economics (BS) - Business
  • Spanish (BA)
  • Integrative Health (BS)
  • Business - Corporate Accounting (BA)

You'll need to pay up-front for any costs not covered by financial aid or your ASU scholarship. Reimbursement funds will be added to your paycheck at the end of each semester.

Remember, as far as tuition, you'll only be responsible for initial payments that are not covered by FAFSA or your guaranteed scholarship from ASU for a 42% reduction in tuition rates. If you're unable to make those payments, a financial aid counselor from ASU can help you finance those costs until you get reimbursed. That may involve taking out a loan until the semester is over. (And if you do take out a loan, be sure to pay it off as soon as your reimbursement check comes so you don't wind up paying interest and diluting your benefit.)

While books and special course fees are not directly reimbursed, many students are able to use federal financial aid to pay for those items. 

Additional benefits and perks

Adult learners

This program isn't just for recent high-school grads. If you're an adult learner who needs help some filling in gaps before you go for your bachelor's degree, Starbucks and ASU have a special program for you to help get you college ready. 

Transfer students

If you've already completed some college courses and want to continue through ASU, you can transfer applicable credits and begin enjoying your reimbursement benefit as soon as you're eligible.

Freebies and discounts

Whether or not you use the tuition reimbursement benefit, Starbucks still has all kinds of goodies their employees can enjoy. How does a free bag of coffee every week sound? You'll be caffeinated enough to zing right through your semester. Employees also get a free beverage AND a free food item every shift, plus a 30% discount on other items. 

What's next?

If you're unsure about going to college online, check out our post on 8 Reasons Why Online Education is Better than Traditional.

About the author