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Arizona State, Starbucks expand partnership for academically ineligible employees

FILE - In this Friday, April 27, 2012 file photo, Starbucks barista Linsey Pringle prepares a cup of coffee at a Starbucks Corp. store in Seattle. Starbucks on Monday, June 16, 2014 announced a new partnership with Arizona State University to make online degrees available to its 135,000 U.S. employees who work at least 20 hours a week. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

PHOENIX — In an effort to offer more employees a chance to earn a degree, Arizona State University and Starbucks announced Wednesday it will expand its partnership.

Under the newly-expanded program Pathway To Admission, Starbucks employees will be able to earn admission to the university by completing courses offered through ASU’s online Global Freshman Academy.

This will give employees the opportunity to earn a degree through Arizona State University, even if they do not qualify for admission, ASU Now reported.

Employees will have the opportunity to take first-year courses through the Global Freshman Academy. Starbucks will cover the cost of the courses, but employees will have to pay a $49 fee for each class.

If employees pass their classes with a C or above, they can transfer the credit to ASU, where they can continue their education through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.

The Pathway to Admission program expands upon the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, which allows employees to earn a degree through ASU Online by completely reimbursing their tuition.

Officials said more than 8,600 employees have pursued degrees through the plan since its launch in June 2014 and more than 1,000 employees are expected to graduate with a degree by the end of 2017.

The announcement was made Wednesday by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who introduced the program as the company’s “responsibility.”

“Regardless of your test scores, regardless of your history, everyone at Starbucks is now going to have access to a free college education,” Schultz said during the announcement, according to ASU Now.

Schultz said the new program will aim to help Starbucks reach its goal of graduating 25,000 employees by 2025, ASU Now reported.

The partnership between Schultz and Arizona State University does not end here: The Starbucks CEO will speak at the university’s spring commencement in May.

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