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The Cost of Coding Bootcamps: Your Complete Guide

October 10, 2021

American workers are driving the largest movement out of jobs in over twenty years. 4.3 million Americans left their jobs in August of 2021, kicking off what analysts and pundits are dubbing “The Great Resignation.” This movement - catalyzed by the global pandemic - is allowing people to reappraise the skills and salaries needed to build a life for themselves and their families. The movement is preceded by a massive capital investment into coding bootcamp startups - on-ground and remote programs that teach aspiring developers a new skill set in an accelerated amount of time - in response to significant market demand for software developers and coding professionals.

Coding bootcamps are exploding. Over the next four years, the programming bootcamp market is expected to swell to a staggering $724 million with a compounded annual growth rate of 17%. Students are eagerly filling up the applicant pools to learn web development and software engineering, anticipating that their participation in a programming bootcamp will yield serious long-term value for their careers.

Understanding any return on investment requires understanding the cost of that investment. This article will guide you through the most frequently asked questions on the costs of a coding bootcamp: what to know about the student loan/personal loan, what to watch out for when evaluating an income share agreement (ISA), what are the calculations and how to weigh deferred tuition, where to look for a scholarship, and tips for comparing the costs of tuition for different coding schools.

Deciding to attend a coding bootcamp is an investment in time and money that we encourage our prospective attendees not to take lightly. Best Coding Bootcamps believes in providing all the information needed for you to feel confident in moving forward with your coding journey.

Before Your Coding Bootcamp Cost Comparison

Evaluating a coding bootcamp is a bit like buying a car: before you go into the dealership, you need to know your priorities and the questions to ask. Most people are looking at new vs. used, miles, trims, trunk space, safety ratings, and more. Those are important features, but they aren’t the motivator for why you need a car in the first place. Perhaps you’re taking family vacations and need space, or you’re looking for the best resale value since you’ll be moving to a walking-friendly city. These are your real motivations for purchase.

Choosing the right coding bootcamp requires the same mindset. Before looking at what curricula are available for your education, you first need to answer “Why am I considering a future as a software engineer?” and “What do I want to specialize in?”

For many people looking to become a web developer, the career opportunity is the decision point. Who can blame them? Demand for software engineers with experience in specific coding languages is red hot. Developer salaries are experiencing significant growth in an economy where one of the biggest concerns is inflation. The idea of being compensated well above the median salary of the United States and that the growth is outpacing inflation seems like a financial no-brainer.

Others see the opportunity for specialization. A coding bootcamp traditionally allows its students to take courses in data science, cybersecurity, UX/UI design, frontend or backend development, and full-stack development. Considering what field you want to pursue and putting energy into mastering those parts of the curriculum will inform how you see the cost of a coding bootcamp. More importantly, it will help you compare the value between at least two of them. A program with high tuition but a stellar reputation for placing data science professionals in reputable companies may be more valuable than a coding course with lower tuition that doesn’t have the job placement credentials you may want.

Cost of a Coding Bootcamp: High Level

Let’s begin our cost discussion with one of the most widely asked questions: What does the average coding bootcamp in America cost? According to Nerd Wallet, the average cost for a bootcamp globally is close to $13,584. This is a good place to start thinking from around your investment, but there’s two key things we want our students to remember:

  • Averages can be skewed. Because the tuition range of coding bootcamps are high (from free coding bootcamp courses to the highest tier), an “average tuition” metric can be inflated or deflated by a few outliers. Being matched to specific bootcamps will help you get a more accurate view into your actual cost of tuition.
  • Costs will vary based on your payment option. Several factors will play into your overall total tuition cost. If you’re paying for your coding education fully up front, the cost of a bootcamp will be more or less the list price. If you’re funding the education through a scholarship, financial aid, private loan, or income sharing agreement (ISA), the total cost will certainly be different.

Taking this information into account as you prepare your questions for the bootcamp’s advisors will leave you more prepared to have a meaningful conversation around your full-time or part-time program.

Coding Bootcamp Scholarships

One of the best ways to reduce the cost of learning a programming language is through scholarships. Similar to the process of enrolling in a bachelor’s degree, many schools, foundations, and companies set up scholarships to help ease the cost of tuition. A coding bootcamp scholarship is no different. They’re built to increase the representation of traditionally underrepresented audiences in software engineering roles and help solve some of the most glaring challenges caused by lack of diversity: broken algorithms, introducing unintentional bias into machine learning, and missed insights that affect the bottom line. Fortunately, we’re seeing more need-based, BIPOC, and military scholarships to improve equity and plug glaring holes in the computer science field.

Income Share Agreements

Another way prospective coding bootcamp graduates pay for their program is through deferring tuition with an income share agreement or ISA. ISA’s allow a student to contract with coding schools and agree to pay a percentage of their annual income back to the school after securing a job. Bootcamp graduates who typically do the best with an income share agreement accept full-time roles in lower-cost cities so paying back their bootcamp tuition will still leave room to pay living expenses and build savings.

This could be useful for students who are not in a position to pay the full principal up front, but you must do the financial calculation first. Suppose you land a job as a software engineer and make $60,000 per year after completing an online bootcamp from Coding Dojo. If you live in a city with a lower cost of living and you've secured a full-time job, this might be a favorable arrangement for you. However, if you're making the same salary in a city with a high cost of living, you may struggle to repay the coding bootcamp cost after the monthly tuition is taken out of your salary and still have to pay living expenses. (Rents aren't exactly dropping in cities across the U.S.).

For bootcamp grads, it’s important to remember that ISAs are not financial aid or an interest-free instrument. They are a form of loan, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is coming down hard on companies that say otherwise.

Coding Bootcamp Loans

Due to the meteoric rise of coding bootcamps, several companies have emerged as popular loan providers for prospective graduates. As with a government or private loan during undergraduate study, it’s critical that students perform their due diligence on the repayment terms, principal, and interest rates of the loan they are contractually committing to repaying. The Student Borrower Protection Center recently released a report that underlines the importance of understanding the terms. Remember that most of these are personal loans, not student loans. This is not the same process as students who apply for a master’s or bachelor’s degree from a traditional institution. Here is a list of providers that offer personal loans for coding bootcamp tuition:

  • Ascent describes itself as a private loan organization that puts students first by providing student loans for college and consumer loans for bootcamps. They tout their flexible loan options as a difference-maker and publicly commit to transparency around their loans. (Their sales and marketing team makes it a point to differentiate their private student loans from their consumer bootcamp loans in their FAQ).
  • Meritize is another private lender offering personal student loans for coding bootcamp tuition. They also partner with many coding bootcamp programs and are increasingly popular, however, as of the publication of this article they have some work to do on the transparency front. While Ascent provides a detailed explanation of their loan provisions for bootcamp tuitions, Meritize has a smaller FAQ page with many sections simply directing students to call the phone number. As with all coding bootcamp options, we recommend students sit with a financial planner to project out their repayment plans.
  • Upstart is a coding bootcamp lender that works with select programs across the country. They offer a personal loan to students who show acceptance to these programs (including Coding Dojo, Fullstack Academy, Turing, Hack Reactor, and others). Upstart also lists their minimum credit requirements as well as the full list of coding bootcamp partners on their website.
  • Climb Credit also provides coding bootcamp loans for students enrolled in an in-person or online coding bootcamp. Like Upstart, they work with a select list of coding schools and also offer loan programs for living expenses while you attend the bootcamp. However, notice that the interest rates and APR listed on the website are higher than some of the other bootcamp loan providers listed above.

If you decide to take out a personal loan for a coding bootcamp, don’t commit to one of these providers simply because they are listed on the program’s website. Shop around and negotiate for the best rates after making sure repaying principal and interest is achievable once you become a coding bootcamp graduate.

Conclusion: Budget for the boot camp you are most likely to attend

A coding education, for many people, is a transformational experience to put them on a trajectory for a rewarding career in software development. Being able to plan for the total cost of tuition (minus financial aid and scholarships) while factoring in potential interest from private loans and ISAs is an undervalued step in the process. Looking at cost averages isn’t enough.

Fortunately, having a tool to match you with coding bootcamps gives you a much better idea of your overall tuition cost. Best Coding Bootcamps’ detailed database of bootcamps can match you to the right boot camp for all of your needs, including the tuition you’re able to handle. Get matched and find a bootcamp tailored to your experience, interest, and price point.