Starbucks Had A Hard Time Selling Baristas On Its College Tuition Program

04/29/2015 02:14 pm ET | Updated Apr 29, 2015

At the beginning of April, Starbucks announced an expansion of its college tuition assistance program, which now covers four years of schooling instead of just two through a partnership with Arizona State University's online degree program. According to Starbucks, at least 2,000 people have already enrolled in the program, but not all baristas have embraced the program with open arms.

Amanda Ripley, who spoke with a number of Starbucks employees for her cover story in May's issue of The Atlantic, told HuffPost Live that many baristas thought the program was too good to be true at first.

"One of the biggest challenges that the company had was convincing their employees that this was real, that there was no sort of secret clause that would make them have to work at Starbucks forever, or put them in a huge amount of debt," Ripley recalled.

Ripley said the concern speaks to the "general cynicism" and "distrust" that people feel towards large corporations and higher education overall, particularly because many baristas, like other Americans, have had "fraught" and "complicated" college experiences.

"Colleges and corporations have done themselves no favors in how they treat their employees and how they treat their students, and so I think that's a real problem," Ripley said. "Starbucks had to do a lot of work with Arizona State to try to build trust and build credibility and convince people that, 'Hey, this is real! We are serious. We really want you to succeed.' It took more effort and time than they expected."

Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation about Starbucks' college tuition reimbursement initiative here.

Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live's new morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!

Also on HuffPost:

  • Yeşilköy — Turkey
    From the outside, this location looks like a big, beautiful house in an affluent neighborhood — and that’s because it is. Nestled in a wealthy Istanbul neighborhood, this spacious, high-ceilinged Starbucks serves kahve — a fine Turkish coffee — and has luxurious views of the Sea of Marmara from its wide balcony. Click Here to see More of the World’s Coolest Starbucks Photo Credit: © Flickr / Dean Shareski
  • Ketchum — Idaho
    You’ll find this rustic Starbucks inside an old church just a stone’s throw from popular ski spot Sun Valley. Designers utilized natural stone and wood to give the location an outdoorsy, ski lodge feel. Photo Credit: © Starbucks
  • Canal Street — New Orleans
    This location attempts to take visitors back in time by adopting the feel of a turn-of-the-century apothecary store. The company also employed local sculptor David Borgerding to create amazing chandeliers from repurposed horns and wrought-iron gates. Photo Credit: © Starbucks Click Here to see More of the World’s Coolest Starbucks
  • Boulevard des Capucines — Paris
    Marie Antoinette would feel right at home eating cake beneath multiple crystal chandeliers and gilded ceilings in what just might be the most beautiful Starbucks in the most beautiful city in the world. Photo Credit: ©
  • Sharm El Sheikh — Egypt
    The domed exterior of this Starbucks gives this decidedly American corporation an old-world makeover. Inside, however, you can still grab a familiar strawberry Frappuccino before you walk the banks of the nearby Red Sea. Click Here to see More of the World’s Coolest Starbucks Photo Credit: ©
Suggest a correction