As technology evolves into a foundational aspect of businesses operating around the world, companies are constantly seeking out qualified tech workers to fill positions. In 2019, CNBC reported more than 700,000 open technology positions in the U.S. alone from organizations in need of trained and educated employees in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and analytics. This high number of job openings has motivated some to learn coding as part of their professional skillset. Coding bootcamps can help in starting or bettering an individual’s technology career, positioning them for the growing number of jobs available here and abroad.
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How to Pay for a Coding Bootcamp
Currently, no federal student loans help cover the cost of a short-term coding bootcamp, but private student loans are an option. Other financial resources, including federal aid programs and employer sponsorships can help cover the cost.
Although federal student loans aren’t an option for paying for the tuition of coding bootcamps, government programs exist to cover the upfront cost of tuition. First, the Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships, or EQUIP, program is an initiative developed through the Office of Educational Technology.
EQUIP is a test program designed to provide low-income students the ability to complete a coding bootcamp and pay for it using federal financial aid. Students must be using federal financial aid for the first time, and be attending a program with a partner university in the EQUIP program to be eligible. The school’s financial aid department can provide information on how to apply for aid to cover the coding bootcamp tuition. With this financial assistance, students completing a bootcamp have access to the benefits provided by federal student loans, including various repayment programs, deferment and forbearance, and protections under the law.
The GI Bill is a benefit designed specifically for veterans of military service in the U.S., focused on covering the costs of higher education and training. Over the last several years, coding bootcamps have joined the list of eligible training programs to be covered in part or in full by the GI bill. Qualified veterans may receive both tuition and living expenses when attending an eligible coding bootcamp to further their technology skills or lay the groundwork for a new career. Veterans can determine their eligibility for GI Bill educational benefits online or by visiting a Veterans service organization.
Aside from these federal benefits for select groups of students, no other financial aid options exist on the federal level for coding bootcamps.
Private Student Loans
A handful of private student loan lenders offer qualified borrowers financing options for attending a coding bootcamp. Private student loans require a borrower to have a strong credit history and score, as well as verifiable income that may need to meet a minimum threshold. When credit isn’t strong, a co-signer may be added to the loan application to improve the chances of getting approved.
If you are approved for a private student loan, the lender provides options for how much you can borrow, the repayment terms available, and the fixed or variable interest rate charged on the loan.
Typical repayment terms for private student loans range from five to 15 years, but because of the low cost of coding bootcamp compared to a full degree program, repayment terms may be limited to one or two years. In addition to understanding the repayment term, borrowers need to recognize that interest is charged on the loan from the day the funds are received. Interest rates can range from the low single digits to nearly double digits, depending on credit score. The higher the interest rate, the higher the total cost of borrowing for coding bootcamp. However, private student loans can be a smart choice for covering the cost of coding bootcamp when other resources are not available.
Some employers may help cover the cost of attending a coding bootcamp as well. Because completing intensive training in coding can help benefit both you as the employee and the employer, companies recognize that paying for a coding bootcamp may generate a return on their investment. Employer sponsorships are not available with every business, nor are they structured the same across the board. Employees may need to work for a company for a certain period before becoming eligible for a sponsorship, or they may need to commit to working for the employer for several months or years after completion to ensure benefits do not need to be repaid.
Employees can check with their employer to see if sponsorship for coding bootcamp is a possibility, and what the specific terms are for accepting that benefit.
Is Coding Bootcamp Worth It?
Before jumping on the coding bootcamp bandwagon, it’s necessary to understand what the return on investment could be for your career. According to a report on bootcamp graduates, 66 percent reported full-time employment using the skills they learned in coding bootcamp after graduation. The average salary for those with full-time positions came in at just over $67,000 per year. For a $10,000 to $20,000 investment, coding bootcamp may be worth the cost in the end.
However, those interested in coding bootcamp need to understand their financing options if paying for tuition out-of-pocket isn’t an option. Be sure to select financing that includes flexible repayment terms that fit within your budget, and be selective with the coding school you attend from the start. Completion of coding bootcamp should result in a boost to your skillset and your career prospects in a short period of time after graduation.