Getting a bachelor’s degree isn’t always the best way to get a better job.
As a result, vocational programs called “boot camps” are making it easier for coders, designers, and data scientists to get an immersive experience that can help them get a better job. The accelerated programs are fast-paced and effective.
Boot camps aren’t cheap, though. Skills Fund is a company that’s dedicated to helping students afford the experience and make it worth their while.
Why boot camps?
Going to college isn’t for everyone. For some, the best way they learn is by actually doing the job. Boot camps, or accelerated academic programs, are generally a non-accredited form of higher education. “Boot camps offer a fully immersive, intensive, and focused skills training,” says Lauren Bauml, vice president of marketing at Skills Fund.
“A good boot camp will ensure your training provides hard and soft skill development to match the needs of local employers, will equip you with robust career services to prepare you for the job search, and offer an extensive employer network to begin in-field employment shortly after program completion,” she adds.
The statistics show that they work, too. According to Switchup.org, 63% of boot camp graduates reported a salary increase of $22,700 within six months, on average.
About Skills Fund
Skills Fund was founded in 2015 when Rick O’Donnell and Joseph Kozusko saw that traditional higher education was failing students. Despite the ever-increasing student loan balances, universities weren’t putting much thought into helping students take the next step.
When technology boot camps came along, O’Donnell and Kozusko created Skills Fund to help students find the best boot camp options and to pay for the education.
The company works with Iowa Student Loan, a non-profit lender who helps Skills Fund provide what Bauml calls “the anti-loan.”
“When working with Skills Fund,” she says, “students can take the complexities and challenges of traditional student loans and throw the negative experience out of the window, as our offering is radically different.”
Skills Fund boot camp financing
Skills Fund takes the guesswork out of the whole process of finding and attending a boot camp. You start by searching for a school. You can choose from one of the following options:
- User experience / User interface design
- Data science and other skills
Within those options, you can get even more specific in what you want to do. For example, within coding, you can learn the skills to become a junior web developer, web developer or software engineer.
When you pick a school, you’ll see all the terms of the program and the loan. The whole process is incredibly transparent, leaving you with no questions unanswered before you go through with it.
What are Skills Fund’s interest rate and terms?
With many student loan companies, it’s not uncommon to run into teaser rates and hidden fees. “At Skills Fund, we changed the equation and offered one universal interest rate for all approved students,” says Bauml.
She says, “There’s no teaser rates, no cosigner incentives, or ranges of rates depending on your creditworthiness.”
You don’t have to go searching for the interest rate and fees, either. “We disclose our origination fee, interest rate, and general APR to you on your school’s partnership website,” she adds.
What are Skills Fund’s credit score and other eligibility criteria?
Because Skills Fund works with several different schools, the eligibility criteria could be different depending on the school you choose. “Across all partner schools, as long as a student is a US citizen or green card holder, has fair credit or better, hasn’t defaulted on a student loan nor filed for bankruptcy,” says Bauml, “they will most likely be approved for their Skills Fund loan.”
If you can’t get approved on your own, you can also amend your application with a cosigner for reconsideration.
One special thing of note is that Skills Fund doesn’t consider your income or employment when underwriting your loan. This makes it easier to get approved if you’re between jobs or working your way up from the bottom.
How does the Skills Fund application process work?
If you’re interested in finding a boot camp and getting a loan through Skills Fund, here’s how the application process works:
Narrow down your school search. Choose your desired skill or simply search all the schools or break them down by region to find one close to you
Choose your school from the many options available. You’ll see some close to home as well as some in different states. You’ll also get an idea of how long the boot camps last, what topics they cover, and what the Skills Fund loan will help you pay for.
Review the loan terms and speak with an advisor who can help answer any questions you might have.
Then, select your program and start the application process.
Enter your personal information to get access to the secure application page.
Share other information about yourself, including your ID information, citizenship status, address, and employment. You’ll also share information about the boot camp you wish to attend.
State whether or not you’re planning to apply with a cosigner and share your income and desired loan amount. Then, choose the terms of your loan.
Provide three references that Skills Fund can contact, preferably someone who does not currently live with you.
Review and submit your application. Once it’s processed, you’ll be asked to sign it electronically, and Skills Fund will get back to you with a decision within minutes.
Skills Fund contact information
If you have any questions about boot camps or Skills Fund’s program, you can contact Skills Fund directly. Skills Fund doesn’t list a phone number on its website, but you can reach out to its customer service team at CustomerTrust@Skills.Fund.
Should you finance your boot camp with Skills Fund?
The best thing about Skills Fund is its transparency. If you want to know all of the information upfront, that’s what you’ll get.
“No other lender offers both quality assurance and full loan transparency for all students,” says Bauml, “and we’re proud to reinvent a model which incentivizes the school, lender, and quality assurance entity to keep their eyes on the greatest prize — a student’s short and long-term success.”
Click here to learn more about Skills Fund. Compare the rates and terms of Skills Fund to what other lenders are offering before you apply. SuperMoney’s student loans review page makes it easy to compare rates and terms.