The Definitive Guide to Coding Bootcamp Financing

Everything you need to know about financing your coding bootcamp education

Article Summary

Most coding bootcamp students can’t qualify for federal student aid or traditional private student loans. However, other financing options are available. This article provides a comprehensive discussion of coding bootcamp financing options, such as personal loans, scholarships, crowdfunding, credit cards, and income share agreements.

In our increasingly digital world, the demand for skilled computer programmers continues to rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of software developers will grow by 22% between 2019 and 2029.

One response to that growing demand has been the proliferation of coding bootcamps. Nearly 100 coding bootcamps cropped up around the world from 2012 to 2016. Years later, there is no sign that such schools will become less numerous any time soon.

Coding bootcamps and federal student aid programs

Most coding bootcamps, including those offered by community colleges, are actually managed by private companies. This means they are not overseen by the government and students cannot qualify for federal student aid programs, such as Pell Grant, or federal student loans.

To complicate things further, most bootcamp students cannot qualify for traditional private student loans because these only consider students that attend accredited two- or four-year college programs.

The good news is there are other options available for financing coding bootcamps.

How much do coding bootcamps cost?

Though bootcamps began as for-profit businesses unaffiliated with traditional postsecondary institutions, nearly 50 bootcamps had partnered with universities by 2020. The average bootcamp costs about $14,000 and lasts around 14 weeks. This high price offers high rewards. The average starting salary for coding bootcamp graduates is $69,000. (Source)

Such coding bootcamps equip students for today’s tech job market with intensive training in digital skills such as web development and UX/UI design. Although no training program can guarantee employment, 79% of coding bootcamp graduates indicate they’ve found employment as programmers, and alumni of some programs report even better results. The in-field employment rate reported by graduates of one General Assembly program, for instance, is 91.4%. (Source)

But what if you don’t have $14,000 lying around to pay for the program?

Not to worry, there are ways to make it happen, and below are some of them. Before discussing coding bootcamp loans and other financing options you have to pay back, we’ll look at some of your other options.

Pay for coding bootcamps without borrowing

Most people trying to figure out how to pay for a coding bootcamp think first of what loans they might qualify for. Though learning about the available loans is a great idea and something we’ll talk about shortly, you may be able to reduce how much you spend on your coding program by taking advantage of funding opportunities offering money you don’t have to pay back.

Coding bootcamp scholarships and the GI Bill

Several bootcamps offer scholarships to individuals in groups they believe are underrepresented in the industry. Though this typically means women and members of ethnic or racial minorities, some bootcamps offer scholarships to members of groups unrelated to these traditional categories. For instance, some bootcamps offer scholarships to individuals who identify as LGBTQ+.

If you don’t qualify for special treatment as a member of one of these groups, you may still be able to profit from your group identification — provided the group you identify with is a branch of the U.S. military. Many schools now accept the GI Bill, which is helping more veterans to begin new tech careers.

If you’ve never been in the military and don’t fit into a group being offered special scholarships for these training programs, you might still qualify for a scholarship based on merit or financial need. A local career resources center or similar agency may be able to help you learn about current opportunities.

Scholarships, then, can be a valuable resource for financing many coding bootcamps. Though the value of grants and scholarships for a traditional college education is well known (they cover about a third of college costs), the availability of scholarships for non-traditional programs is something many bootcamp students might overlook. Before you take out a loan to fund your school of choice, make sure you take advantage of any scholarship opportunities available to you. You’ll end up paying less for your career training if you do.

By the way, if you’re going to college and want to use your education to help people reach their financial goals, check out SuperMoney’s Financial Literacy scholarship program. It awards $2,500 a year to a student who wants to help Americans improve their financial wellness through continued education.

Employer sponsorships

Will the skillset you acquire from the coding bootcamp be of value to your current or future employer? If so, you can approach them and request a sponsorship.

Some students can make the case that the skills learned at a bootcamp will add value to their employer. While only a small percentage of immersive students get funded this way, employer sponsorships are becoming more common for part-time bootcamp students who can continue to work while in a program.

Crowdfunding

Another possible alternative to loans for coding bootcamps is a crowdfunding campaign, the twenty-first century’s way to ask family, friends, and strangers for money.

Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and GoFundMe allow you to tell others why you need their help and how much you need. If your campaign promotion proves effective, “the crowd” comes together to contribute and help you reach your goal.

This method may not work if you don’t have a knack for self-promotion, marketing, and persuasive storytelling. If you do have this knack, though, crowdfunding could significantly reduce how much money you have to borrow when paying for coding bootcamp.

Government programs

“I know someone who got a federal grant to pay for college,” you say. “Can I get a piece of that action to pay for my coding bootcamp?”

In a traditional college program, filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) could qualify you for some grant money if your income is low. But traditional education grants like that are not (yet) provided for coding bootcamps.

Not only will filling out a FAFSA not get you any grant funding for your coding bootcamp, but it also won’t get you a federal student loan with the superior APR (annual percentage rate) and more manageable payments such can provide. So the answer to the question “Does financial aid cover coding bootcamp?” is “no” if you have federal financial aid in mind.

While the government has yet to create any programs providing or backing bootcamp loans, federal, state, and local career-training programs do arise from time to time. Check with the school or schools you’re considering and your local career center, and appropriate government offices to make sure you know all your options. (Private industry organizations, like your local chamber of commerce, may also know a lot about current government programs. Your local career center may have ties with local companies and be able to put you in touch with the private industry organizations near you.)

Coding bootcamps want your business and will do all they can to make sure you know about all the financing options that they know about. And elected representatives at all levels of government dedicate a good portion of their staff members’ time and energy to something called “constituent services.” These services can include telling you about government-funded career training opportunities in your area.

But before you check with your bootcamp or elected reps, read on to learn about a couple of these programs.

EQUIP

In August of 2016, the U.S. Department of Education announced the start of the Educational Quality through Innovation Partnerships (EQUIP) pilot program, providing a detailed fact sheet and causing both excitement and controversy (Source).

Here’s how the Department currently describes the program: “These partnerships will allow students — particularly low-income students — to access federal student aid for the first time to enroll in programs offered by non-traditional training providers, in partnership with colleges and universities, including coding bootcamps, online courses, and employer organizations. The goals of the experiment are to (1) test new ways of allowing Americans from all backgrounds to access innovative learning and training opportunities that lead to good jobs, but that fall outside the current financial aid system; and (2) strengthen approaches for outcomes-based quality assurance processes that focus on student learning and other outcomes. The experiment aims to promote and measure college access, affordability, and student outcomes.” (Source)

As of mid-2021, it appears that only one of the applicants, a partnership focused on criminal justice and business, has been fully approved and started accepting students.

Of the remaining seven programs, four partner with coding bootcamps. The coding bootcamps participating include:

  • Epicodus,
  • The Flatiron School,
  • MakerSquare, and
  • Zip Code Wilmington.

Upon full approval, they will be able to provide federal financial aid, including government-backed loans, to qualifying students. If any of them is among the coding bootcamps you’re considering, be sure to ask them about the status of their EQUIP application.

The Workforce Services Division of the California Employment Development Department

If you live in California, this is one of the government programs you might learn about at your local career center. If you are unemployed or underemployed, and if your existing skillset doesn’t seem likely to land you a job making what you did when you were last fully employed, the Workforce Services Division of the Employment Development Department may cover your bootcamp costs — if funds are available. State funding and federal and private grants may affect what funding’s available at a given time, so the best way to find out what you might be eligible for is to contact the agency.

If you reside in another state, check whether similar programs are available where you live. State and local governments benefit from broadening the tax base, so new programs to get unemployed people back to work, and to get underemployed people fully employed, arise often.

Even if you don’t qualify for federal loans for coding or other government-funded financial aid or a government-funded training program — or if you prefer a nongovernmental solution — you still have plenty of options. For instance, online loans for coding bootcamps are available now, and many offer competitive rates.

online loans for coding bootcamps are available now, and many offer competitive rates”

Loans for coding bootcamps

Coding bootcamp students have typically not had access to traditional funding sources, but the situation is improving. Private lenders, such as Earnest and Skills Fund, offer competitive student loan rates to those attending coding bootcamps. Some work exclusively with coding bootcamp attendees and have partnerships with the major training institutions. Further, the bootcamps themselves have introduced new options to help students with cost.

So if your question is, “Can you get a student loan for coding bootcamp?” the answer is “yes,” though the loan you get might not be what you usually think of when you think “student loan.”

Can the FAFSA help me pay for coding bootcamp?

More ways to pay for coding bootcamp become available all the time. In addition to scholarship opportunities, a bootcamp loan will prove a viable option for many.

When the subject of student loans comes up, the first type of loan that many people think of is the sort you get as part of a federal financial aid package. If you’ve completed any postsecondary education, you know that filling out a FAFSA allows you to apply for federal grants and loans to pay for a college education.

Since the rates and terms of federal student loans are typically better than what you can get from a private lender, assuming you’ve got the credit score to land a private loan, you’d sure love paying for your coding bootcamp with a federal loan. Can you get a bootcamp loan via the FAFSA?

Sadly, no. Though the financing options for coding career training get better all the time, those options still don’t include student loans via the FAFSA. For now, those seeking student loans for coding bootcamps must look elsewhere.

Is there any federal financial aid for coding bootcamp? If not, what are my options?

So, filling out the FAFSA won’t get you a federal loan with the superior APR and more manageable payments such can provide. But are there any federal loans available for coding bootcamp? Not yet. However, don’t get discouraged.

Here’s the quick list of four alternatives we’ll highlight:

  1. Bootcamp payment programs
  2. Bootcamp lenders
  3. Personal loans
  4. Credit cards

Read on to learn more about these funding options and which will work best for you.

Bootcamp payment programs

Bootcamps themselves have introduced new options to help students with cost. Some programs, like App Academy, do not require tuition upfront. Instead, students pay back a percentage of their salary after they land a job. Here’s how this “deferred tuition” plan works. You put down a $5,000 refundable deposit, then you don’t pay the remaining $23,000 until you get hired and earn over $50,000 per year. Another hybrid option enables you to pay a portion upfront and the remaining $14,000 after you land a job.

Income share agreements

Income share agreements are another alternative financing option that is becoming increasingly popular. This is where students pay a percentage of their salary after they land a job if their salary exceeds a certain threshold. With an Income Share Agreement, both the school and the student share the risk. Align is a good example of a lender with an Income Share Agreement model.

Deferred tuition plans and income share agreements are “loans” of a sort (benefit now, pay expenses later), but without a fixed interest rate. They can be very helpful, reducing the need for a traditional loan.

Bootcamp lenders

If you need more than what is available from the company running the program, many bootcamps partner with lenders that finance the costs for qualifying students. Increasingly, bootcamp students are taking out private loans to finance their education. As the number of bootcamp attendees grows, private lenders have become adept at offering attractive terms.

For example, some lenders offer deferred payment plans that allow students to pay interest only while they are in the program and for a short period thereafter. This allows students to delay serious costs until they land a job.

The lenders will each have their own underwriting guidelines (over which bootcamps have no control), so you must qualify to get the funding. If you can get approved, it’s a great route to take.

Typically, the loans come with repayment periods ranging from one to five years and an APR based on your creditworthiness.

It’s a good idea to shop around and compare the total costs with each lender so you can pick the best one.

Personal loans for coding bootcamps

You can also apply for a personal loan from a private lender and use it for whatever purpose you want, including to pay for a coding bootcamp. As with loans from lenders that partner with bootcamps, you will have to apply and get approved.

Different personal loans come with different rates, fees, and requirements, so check out the best personal loans to ensure that you choose the best option.

Again, be sure to compare various lenders and their offerings to ensure you meet the eligibility requirements and get a good deal. Take note of each lender’s loan amount limits, repayment periods, interest rates, fees, and flexible payment options.

Personal loans for coding bootcamps have an additional advantage over student loans made specifically for bootcamps: you may be able to find longer repayment terms.

Credit cards for coding school

Good old credit cards may be able to cover the bill, as well. If you have a fair amount of credit established, you will likely get a credit card limit high enough to cover the costs.

The problem is, credit cards often have higher interest rates than installment loans. That could end up costing you if you carry a large balance for too long.

However, you can get interest-free financing if you qualify for a 0% interest introductory period. The no-interest period typically lasts six months or more (as many as 21 months with the Citi Simplicity card). A sufficiently long 0% APR period may give you enough time to complete your 14-week course, get a job, and pay the card off with absolutely no interest.

If you can’t pay it off in full by the time your interest rate jumps up, you could transfer the balance to another card with an introductory rate or pay it off with a personal loan.

Key To-Do List

To recap, here are several key items for your bootcamp-financing to-do list:

  • Find out if you qualify for scholarships.
  • Check into government programs. We tell you about some, but new ones show up all the time.
  • If you’re a veteran, make sure to check if you can use your GI Bill benefits for your coding bootcamp.
  • Ask your school about deferred tuition, income share agreements, and other arrangements.
  • Look into personal loans and 0% APR introductory-rate credit cards.
  • Consider crowdfunding if you have a knack for storytelling and winning over crowds.

Find the right coding bootcamp financing for you

If you’re determined to attend a coding bootcamp, don’t let the price tag stop you. There are many options to help you take the first step toward a lucrative career. Software development is on the upward swing, and it’s a good time to get in if you have the interest.

Ready to start shopping? SuperMoney’s loan offer engine can help you find the best rates available.

Sources Cited
  1. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Software Developers — U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  2. Coding Bootcamps in 2021: Your Complete Guide to the World of Bootcamps — Course Report
  3. How Our Immersive Graduates Get Jobs: GA’S Outcomes Report 2018–2019 — General Assembly
  4. FACT SHEET: ED Launches Initiative for Low-Income Students to Access New Generation of Higher Education Providers — U.S. Department of Education, via The Internet Archive
  5. ‘Safe Space’ for Experimentation or Dangerous ‘Loophole’? — Inside Higher Ed
  6. Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) — U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology