Only after you've accumulated 56 hours of credit (at or acceptable to ASU) will Starbucks pay your full tuition.
To acquire those 56 credits through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan will cost somewhere between $20,966 and $23,718. It seems like a lot, but that's a discounted tuition, 78% of what a non-Starbucks employee would pay. (ASU-Online credits vary by course, from $480 to $543 per credit hour, or $374.4 to $423.54 with the Starbucks discount.)
To acquire those credits at your local community college, assuming that you live in district? $7,364 (our local community college charges residents $131.50/credit hour).
Of course, in both cases, what you pay may be less than the sticker price. ASU/Starbucks assume that you will apply for any federal aid you're eligible for, like military education grants and Pell grants (which, if you're supporting yourself at Starbucks, you're probably eligible for). You are also eligible for such grant support at your local community college.
Assuming that your eligibility for federal aid will help to bring the cost of the ASU/Starbucks degree in line with the cost of a local community college education, the advantages of the ASU/Starbucks degree are as follows:
- You know that all your credits will count towards the 56 required for full tuition reimbursement to kick in. There's always a chance that some of your community college credits will not transfer.
- ASU-Online/Starbucks is acquiring a good deal of name recognition. People outside of your community may not have heard of your community college.
- Everything is online. At no point you will you have to (or even be able to) get in a car to take a final exam, talk face-to-face to sort out a financial aid mix-up, take a course that's only available in brick-and-mortar form.
- There will be a seamless similarity in the format of your classes. Since ASU-Online is partnership between Arizona State University and Pearson, an education and media company, any individuality in course content and design will be filtered through the Pearson learning management system and Pearson course products.
- You will receive a lot of encouragement to remain at ASU-Online until the completion of your degree. As a profit-generating venture, ASU-Online and Pearson have an interest in retaining as many students as possible.
- You will be a conduit by which any federal grant money you're eligible for will help to improve the bottom line at Pearson.
The advantages of the local community college are as follows:
- The community college is not subsidized by a purveyor of online learning management systems, so it recognizes that some students learn more effectively in face-to-face classes. You will be encouraged to assess your own learning needs and decide whether an online format is the best way to meet your goals.
- Even if you are a good candidate for online learning, where the subject matter can be more effectively taught in a hands-on manner, you can get face-to-face instruction, and you have the option of taking courses in fields that don't lend themselves well to online teaching.
- Because your community college offers a limited number of four-year degrees, you will be encouraged to think broadly about how and where to transfer those credits that you've paid for. Further online education at a for-profit institution might help you achieve your goals, but then, it might not.
- Your federal aid dollars will be used within your community.