Starbucks Free College: Brewing Hope for Vets

Photo of author

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may receive a commission if you purchase using these links.

Since 2015, Starbucks has been supporting its veteran employees through the College Achievement Plan, covering full tuition costs and helping employees pursue their academic goals. But did you know that family members of veterans are also eligible for free college?

This program has been a lifeline for many veterans and eases the burden of student debt. In this article, I’ll be taking a deep dive into this program.

Educational Support

By expanding their program to provide scholarships to the children and spouses of veterans, Starbucks is helping to promote a culture of empowerment within military communities.

This commitment to education provides an invaluable opportunity to invest in the lives of veterans and their families, leveraging the power of education to create something even bigger and better: a whole network of support and opportunity.

Starbucks Continues To Honor Vets With Free College

As Nelson Mandela1 famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”

By investing in the power of education, Starbucks not only helps to elevate the lives of the people it serves, it also contributes to a culture of collective, far-reaching empowerment.

Who Qualifies?

To qualify, veteran employees must work a minimum of 20 hours per week at a Starbucks-owned establishment and should have served and been honorably discharged2 from the U.S. Armed Forces.

Family members, which can include a child, spouse, or domestic partner of the veteran employee, must not already possess a bachelor’s degree and must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process.

Coverage and Opportunities

At Arizona State University (ASU), there are more than 140 majors available for online bachelor’s degree programs. Those who receive benefits can have their tuition fully covered, along with the required fees charged by ASU.

A Veteran Father Walking His Daughter Into College

However, it’s important to keep in mind that expenses for textbooks and other living costs are not included in this coverage3.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that there is no requirement to continue working at Starbucks once the degree has been earned.

Starbucks also shows appreciation for its employees serving in the National Guard or Reserve by providing Military Service Pay. This benefit allows eligible U.S. employees to receive 80 hours of pay per year when their service duties require them to be absent from their positions at Starbucks.

Employment Opportunities

Starbucks made a promise in 2018 to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses, and they have gone above and beyond in fulfilling this pledge.

They achieved this by implementing military recruitment programs and collaborating with military bases, which has created a welcoming atmosphere for veterans and their families. Their efforts have helped ease the transition from military to civilian life.

Military Family Stores

Starbucks has set up over 100 Military Family Stores near significant military bases, providing a sense of community for active personnel, veterans, their families, and the surrounding communities1.

These stores serve as models for other Starbucks locations, encouraging initiatives to advance veteran causes and enhance the recruitment of veterans and their spouses.

Starbucks Free College 3


Beyond its internal commitment, Starbucks also actively collaborates with various veteran service organizations to improve the overall well-being of military communities.

The company’s efforts have touched over 900,000 veterans, spouses, and communities, demonstrated by its annual donation of over 6 million cups of coffee to military personnel and veterans.


Starbucks maintains its core value of giving back to the military community through The Starbucks Foundation, which has awarded Neighborhood Grants to local nonprofits that serve veterans and military communities.

Since 2019, more than 300 of these grants have significantly improved the lives of those who served the country.

Key Takeaways

  1. Starbucks offers free online bachelor’s degree tuition to eligible employees and their families.
  2. Over 140 majors are available for eligible family members without a bachelor’s degree. Mandatory fees are covered, but not textbooks or living expenses.
  3. Employees need to work 20 hours a week at Starbucks to be eligible for benefits. Family members must fill out the FAFSA application to receive benefits.
  4. Starbucks pledged to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses by 2018 and has established 30 Military Family Stores near U.S. bases to aid veterans’ transition to civilian life.


Starbucks places high value on its veteran employees and expresses gratitude through various education, employment, and community programs. Their unwavering dedication serves as a positive example for other businesses to emulate and fosters a lasting culture of support within military communities.

  1. ↩ī¸Ž


Avatar Of Kelsey Todd
With over two decades in the coffee industry, Kelsey is a seasoned professional barista with roots in Seattle and Santa Barbara. Accredited by The Coffee Association of America and a member of The Baristas Guild, he combines practical expertise with a profound understanding of coffee's history and cultural significance. Kelsey tries his best to balance family time with blogging time and fails miserably.

Leave a Comment