8 Coding Boot Camps That Defer Tuition Until You Find a Job

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Coding boot camp tuition costs an average of $13,584, according to Course Report, which means it’s not a cheap option for many of us. Fortunately, some boot camps have introduced a deferred tuition solution — also known as an income share agreement (ISA).

Here’s our guide on what you need to know about this new policy, plus a list of short-, medium- and long-term deferred tuition coding boot camps to consider:

The basics of deferred tuition coding boot camps

Coding boot camps that offer ISAs don’t require you to pay for your education until you find a job — after which you’ll be asked to pay a percentage of your salary.

“Deferred tuition schools reduce the barrier to entry for students who can’t afford $15,000 to $20,000 up front in tuition, which means more diverse applicant pools — and that’s always a good thing,” said Liz Eggleston, co-founder of Course Report, a hub of coding boot camp information.

Since schools don’t get paid unless you find a job (though this job can be either inside or outside of the industry in which you studied), it gives them a strong incentive to offer a solid education.

Although it sounds like a win-win scenario, there are a few things to be aware of when it comes to deferred tuition coding boot camps:

  • ISAs vary by school, so it’s essential to understand how contracts work, including ISA repayment protections.
  • You’ll still need to cover your living expenses, perhaps via a private student loan.
  • Some require an upfront deposit to ensure you won’t back out, although the deposit could be applied as a credit toward your deferred tuition before or after you leave school.

Eggleston also warned: “Because a school only gets paid when a student is placed in a job, students should expect to be held to a high standard in class. Think regular assessments you can’t fail without being asked to leave. So attrition is higher.”

Alternatives to income share agreements

If that won’t work for you, there are other ways to afford a coding boot camp. For instance, you can look into coding boot camp loans with companies such as Earnest (if they partner with your school), or scholarships for underrepresented populations.

Whatever you do, be sure to research a coding boot camp before applying, as quality varies widely. Some boot camps offer low-quality instruction, while others inflate the number of graduates who have been hired after graduation.

Searching for reviews on sites like Course Report and SwitchUp, as well as talking to a coding boot camp’s alumni, should help you determine if it’s legitimate or not.

Short-term coding boot camps with deferred tuition

The three choices below are traditional coding boot camps: Short-term commitments where you give it your all (typically 50 to 80 hours a week).

1. App Academy

Probably the most well-known of the ISA-offering boot camps, App Academy offers 16-week programs in New York and San Francisco. You’ll focus on Ruby, Rails, JavaScript and React.

ISA: Up to 28% of your first year’s salary or as much as 23% if you make an upfront, partial tuition payment

Deposit: $3,000 (refundable)

2. The Grace Hopper Program

With the goal of reducing tech’s gender gap, The Grace Hopper Program is a subset of Fullstack Academy for students who identify as female, transgender or nonbinary. The program, which focuses on full-stack JavaScript, consists of a four-week remote class followed by 13 weeks of in-person training in New York City.

ISA: $16,910, paid in nine monthly installments after finding a full-time developer job

Deposit: $3,000 (refundable)

Medium-term coding boot camps with deferred tuition

Longer than a boot camp, but much shorter than a traditional university, here are three innovative medium-term options for learning to code.

3. Lambda School

The online-only Lambda program lasts as little as six months. You could specialize in data science or full-stack web development.

The school stands out, in part, for its support. You’ll be flanked by instructors, student success advisors, career coaches and mentors — and you’ll join a study group of six to eight students that will meet daily.

ISA: Share 17% of your income for two years (or until you pay of $30,000), once you start making $50,000 per year

4. Ada Developers Academy

Created for women and nonbinary people, Seattle’s Ada Developers Academy is technically not tuition-deferred; it’s tuition-free.

Its full-time classroom training focuses on full-stack web development and is followed by a five-month paid internship. You can also apply for a low-interest loan to help with living expenses.

ISA: $0

5. Pursuit

Pursuit wants to bring more diversity to the field of programming. Its Access Code program lasts 10 to 12 months and offers a full-stack web track.

To apply and attend, you must be a resident of the New York metropolitan area and earn no more than $45,000 per year. Women, underrepresented minorities and those without a college degree are encouraged to apply.

ISA: 5 to 15% of your salary for three years, once you find a tech job that pays at least $50,000 annually

Long-term coding boot camps with deferred tuition

More like alternatives to universities, the coding schools below last for two years. Unlike with traditional universities, though, you’ll most likely graduate without any student loan debt.

6. Holberton School

The Holberton School has campuses located in San Francisco, New Haven, Conn., and Tulsa, Okla., as well as internationally. Its curriculum consists of nine months of on-site training, following a variety of specialty tracks, from machine learning to full-stack web development. Students could also elect to opt out of specialization and enter the workforce early.

ISA: 17% of your salary for up to 42 months, depending on income

7. Make School

At Make School’s “Product College” in San Francisco, you can receive a bachelor’s degree in applied computer science in 2 ½ years. You won’t need to pay anything until you land a paid internship, followed by a job.

Make School stands out because for a reason beyond its bachelor’s degree: It has shifted from relying on income-share agreements to connecting students with federal financial aid, including loans, and even private loans before ISAs. And yet, thanks to its “Extended Income-Based Repayment plan,” Make School students who borrow still won’t have to make payments on the federal or private loans until they find work.

Repayment protection: No payments until you earn $20,000 or more income

8. CODE University

CODE is an alternative bachelor’s degree program in Berlin that offers three different tracks: software engineering, interaction design and product management. You graduate when you’ve achieved proficiency, typically after six semesters.

Although no deposit is required, non-EU residents will likely have to show a hefty savings account to obtain a student visa. If you have some financial flexibility, you’re not locked into signing an ISA: You also could pay monthly tuition of €910 (about $1,105) for 36 months.

ISA: 13.5% of relevant income over €27,000 (about $32,790) for eight years

Whether a deferred tuition coding boot camp is right for you

It’s easy to see why coding boot camps are a booming business. They promise a relatively fast education toward fast-growing careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted demand for web developers and software developers would grow by 8% and 22%, respectively, between 2019 and 2029.

That being said, boot camps aren’t for everybody. Before diving in, make sure you actually enjoy coding by taking free classes online.

Also, if you do decide to apply, research schools carefully — and don’t forget to check out deferred tuition coding boot camps like the ones above. While ISAs aren’t good fits for all careers, they could be helpful if you’re going into the technology field.

Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.