If you’re struggling to make ends meet in your current line of work, you may have considered switching to a tech career at some point. One popular way to leap into a lucrative career in web or software development is a coding boot camp.
But coding boot camp tuition costs an average of $13,584, 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 everything you need to know about this new policy, plus a list of short-, medium- and long-term boot camps featuring ISAs.
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:1
- ISAs vary by school, so it’s essential to understand how contracts work.
- 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 student loans for boot camp with companies such as Earnest (if they partner with your school), or scholarships for underrepresented populations.
Whatever you do, be sure to research a 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.
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
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
ISA: $16,910, paid in nine monthly installments after finding a full-time developer job
Deposit: $3,000 (refundable)
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 just nine months. You could specialize in data science, full-stack web development, iOS development or user experience design.
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 non-binary 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 for about six months and is followed by a five-month paid internship. You can also apply for a low-interest loan to help with living expenses.
Pursuit wants to bring more diversity to the field of programming. Its Access Code program lasts 10 to 12 months and offers two tracks: full-stack web and iOS.
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: 12% of your salary for three years, once you find a tech job that pays at least $60,000 annually
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 two-year 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 two-year “Product College” in San Francisco, you can focus on either mobile or web development. You won’t need to pay anything until you land a paid internship, followed by a job.
Make School stands out because it’s among schools featuring an ISA and a bachelor’s degree program. It also offers an additional income share agreement of $1,500 to help cover living expenses.
ISA: 20% of gross salary, when it reaches $60,000, for five years
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 (€8,500, or nearly $9,500) 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 €822 (about $916) for 36 months.
ISA: 7% to 9% of relevant income over €21,000 (about $23,400) for 10 years
This university made big waves when it opened in Silicon Valley. Funded by a French billionaire, 42 has no classes, no professors and no grades.
Its coding or software engineering curriculum takes three to five years to complete, including two mandatory internships. It charges no fees and no tuition, but you will have to cover your living expenses.
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 13% and 21%, respectively, between 2018 and 2028.
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.