Starbucks has revamped the college plan it offers U.S. employees to cover full tuition for all four years of college in Arizona State University’s online program. The plan, also underwritten by ASU, previously paid for the last two years of college.

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Starbucks has revamped the college plan it offers U.S. employees in order to cover full tuition for all four years of college in Arizona State University’s online program.

The plan, also underwritten by ASU, previously paid for the last two years of college, while freshmen and sophomores had access to partial scholarships and financial aid.

Starbucks, which aims to graduate 25,000 of its employees by 2025, says the program may end up costing it up to $250 million over that period.

The program was launched last June.CEO Howard Schultz said he wanted to alleviate the burden that forced many young people to drop out of college.

The idea won praise but also was criticized as the initial barrage of publicity didn’t spell out a lot of the details behind the program. It later emerged that ASU was providing a substantial discount.

Under Schultz’s guidance, the coffee giant has increasingly sought to address political and social issues in recent years. Many have nothing to do with its core business of selling coffee.

But some, like the college plan, reinforce both its brand positioning and its allure to employees, especially at a time when retail rivals like Wal-Mart and McDonald’s are beginning to increase salaries.

The expansion of the college plan comes in the wake of a major Starbucks campaign to address racism in the U.S., which includes a promise to hire 10,000 at-risk youth who are neither working nor in school.

The college program works like this: When students enroll, they receive a scholarship funded by ASU that’s worth 42 percent of their tuition cost, estimated at around $15,000 a year.

Students can also apply for financial aid; many low-income students are eligible. Starbucks chips in with the rest, up to 58 percent of the full tuition for those not receiving financial aid.

In the original incarnation of the program, Starbucks reimbursed juniors and seniors after they completed 21 credits, which usually takes a year. Now the company is offering all students reimbursement at the end of each semester.

Starbucks employs about 140,000 people in the U.S. So far 2,000 have enrolled in the program. The reimbursement for freshman and sophomore years has been available since March 16.