Last month Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz made headlines when he announced that the coffee empire was going to cover college tuition for their employees.

But on closer inspection, it turns out that Starbucks isn't providing free tuition, rather Starbucks will reimburse employees for a certain number of credits completed at Arizona State University online.  

Starbucks employees, both full-time and part-time, will qualify for a small scholarship from ASU but they'll have to supplement it  with loans and their own wages earned at Starbucks.  

The PR for Starbucks has been great. (Who knew ASU would generate more buzz than Oprah and her signature Chai?) Even U.S Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave this partnership a resounding endorsement. Not only did he stand alongside Howard Schultz and Arizona State University President Michael Crow when they  announced this union, Duncan hailed itas an innovative model for providing an affordable education.

For a  reality check on what this model  means for Starbucks employees, and other workers around the country  who might be enrolled in similar plans, Jim and Margery invited Chiwen Bao onto Boston Public Radio.

Chiwen Bao is a visiting fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She spoke with Jim Braude and Margery Eagan about affordable education, and other issues where race, class, and gender intersect in the school room. Listen to the full segment below:

SHEWEN.mp3