By Kevin Juhasz for HackReactor.com
The United States has entered another period where events are leading to large changes. Jobs are recovering from the pandemic, but unemployment is still high, and how things will fall back into place remains unknown. It’s times like these that people see as an opportunity to expand their horizons or are forced to change directions in their careers.
The result of this is an uptick in the need for education, including college and coding bootcamps. Both of these are valuable tools for expanding your knowledge and increasing your value and worth. Paying for these options are very different.
Even though education has evolved rapidly over the last few decades, much of the funding for education remains stubbornly entrenched in the past. Federal funding, with a few exceptions, cannot be used for coding bootcamps because of archaic requirements. There are private lenders who can assist, but the majority are stuck in the past and only loan to students attending two- and four-year programs.
If you’re planning on using a bootcamp, whether online or in-person, you’re going to take a different approach than grants or subsidized student loans and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Below is a look at how to pay for your coding bootcamp.
This might be tough for some students, but if you have the means to pay for your bootcamp in full, this is certainly the best option. No applications, no stress, no interest. Pay, learn, done.
“We do a split payment [at Galvanize and Hack Reactor], as well,” said Michael Frank, Enrollment Operations Manager at Galvanize. “The student can pay 50% up-front and 50% halfway through the program. That’s still out-of-pocket.”
This is one of the best ways to fund your bootcamp, if you're eligible, since it’s pretty much free money. Bootcamps themselves offer a few scholarships to students each session, and some of those will cover your full tuition costs. In addition to school-specific scholarships, there are a handful of private scholarships available. Both these avenues have scholarships that are geared toward women, minorities, and veterans. The amount of work for this aid is going to vary. Some scholarships require a simple application, some require essays, and others require you to provide proof of need. One thing they all have in common is that the competition is stiff.
“What I tell students is to definitely apply for the scholarships, but don’t bank on it, because it’s pretty competitive,” Frank said.
While the public sector is less apt to offer financial assistance, the same cannot be said for the private sector. Many companies are much more flexible when it comes to continuing education for their employees, especially if they know the assistance will provide future benefits. Check with your employer's HR department to see what benefits might be available for your bootcamp. This is another form of aid that is great, but it isn’t very common. When it comes to coding, a company is more likely to hire a bootcamp to come to their location and teach several employees at once.
this can be a savior for students struggling to pay, but it’s also an area where students should proceed with caution. Income-share agreements will require no money to a few thousand dollars down, then take a portion of your income once you achieve a certain salary. However, these agreements can have students paying a much higher price for tuition than going with a loan, so it’s important that you look at the details of any agreement. Look for bootcamps that have a decent salary requirement and a monetary cap.
The Galvanize income share agreement, for example, has the best rates in the industry and only requires 10% of your income once you reach a salary of $60,000/year. The amount you pay is capped at 1.4x your tuition or four years of payments; whichever comes first. There are some less-friendly agreements out there that require you to pay for a specific amount of time with no cap. If you get a good job or move up quickly, and you’re stuck with that agreement, you could end up paying for your bootcamp several times over.
“With us, you don’t pay anything until you get a job with a certain salary,” Frank said. “Then you pay a percentage until you get to the payment cap you agreed upon with the school. The downside to ISAs is it’s typically a little more expensive. You can consider it a combination of a financial option and an insurance option.”
This is another option where students will need to proceed with caution, because the cost can be burdensome, depending on the interest rates and restrictions. Check with your bootcamp first, as many partner with private lenders to provide assistance. These lenders will not only help with your tuition costs but living costs also. Access to this funding is also dependent on your credit score.
“One of the downsides to those (loan) programs is they have fairly high interest rates, and they typically require you to start paying shortly after graduation,” Frank added. “However, it tends to be a little less than income share agreements.”
This is the rarest of all options, and it’s unlikely you’ll find many bootcamps that offer an employment guarantee option. This option is simple – if you can’t find a job within a certain time frame, six months for instance- then the bootcamp will refund your tuition. This is another option that is going to have strict conditions, so it’s best to read the fine print.
Whichever option you choose, it’s important not to rush into your funding decisions. While researching which bootcamps are best for your goals and your situation, make sure you do thorough research on your funding options. Try your best to find options that will mean less money out of your pocket, and study very carefully any options that require additional pay and interest.
“Explore all your options,” Frank suggested. “See what works best for you.”