If you’re looking for a new career with a company that pays well, learning how to code might be for you.
The median pay for web developers is $66,130, a significant increase over the national median salary of $37,040 for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The field is also expected to grow faster than other industries, which means your chances of finding a job — and staying employed — are better than if you were in another field.
Becoming a developer doesn’t require a degree from an expensive design school or advanced training. In fact, many coders start their first jobs with just a high school diploma or a certificate from a coding boot camp.
However, coding programs can be expensive. If you’re trying to figure out how to get student loans so you can boost your earning potential, here’s everything you need to know.
What is a coding boot camp?
Although many people dream of changing careers, the cost of returning to college and getting a new degree or specialized training can be intimidating. But coding boot camps provide you with the training you need at a fraction of the cost of a traditional four-year degree.
A coding boot camp is an intensive training program for web or software developers. Boot camp organizations like Bloc, the Flatiron School, and General Assembly prepare you for a high-earning career in just a few months. Upon graduation, you’ll be ready for an entry-level job as a coder.
How to get student loans for coding boot camp
Many boot camp programs are run by private, for-profit organizations. That can be problematic, as that means many of them are not eligible for federal financial aid. However, there are other ways to get student loans for coding boot camp.
1. Research the federal EQUIP program
In 2016, the U.S. Department of Education announced the launch of the Educational Quality through Innovation Partnerships (EQUIP) program. EQUIP is a pilot program that allows low-income students to qualify for federal financial aid to pay for non-traditional education programs like coding boot camps.
Students who qualify for EQUIP can access all forms of federal aid: including student loans and grants. As a low-income student, you could receive a Pell Grant for coding boot camp.
After graduation, you’ll be able to take advantage of federal aid benefits, such as income-driven repayment (IDR) plans for federal student loans and even loan forgiveness programs.
To get financial aid, make sure you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA for coding boot camp is the same as the application for aid for regular schools.
Currently, only eight schools are in the EQUIP program. You can see each program and their application criteria on the Department of Education’s website.
2. Take out a private student loan
If you don’t qualify for federal financial aid, another way to pay for school is to take out a private student loan.
Many traditional banks and financial institutions do not let borrowers take out student loans for non-traditional programs, but there are now lenders available who cater specifically to coding boot camp students.
Boot camp lenders tend to offer higher interest rates and stricter repayment terms than federal loans, and they’re ineligible for IDR plans. Also, the loans usually only cover the cost of tuition; you’ll have to find other ways to pay for things like living expenses.
If you take out a private loan and cannot find a job after completing the program, you’ll still have to repay the loan. Make sure you research your school’s job placement success rate and are positive this is a career you want before applying for a loan.
If you keep those caveats in mind, private student loans can be a useful tool to help you get the education you need to launch your new career. Two boot camp lenders to consider are Pave and the Skills Fund.
Other ways to pay for school
If you cannot find a company that will approve you for a student loan for your chosen program, don’t give up hope; there are other strategies you can use to pay for school.
1. Research payment plans
Some schools offer payment plans for students. Coding boot camps like Bloc allow you to break up your payments over the course of several months rather than paying everything at once. Bloc also offers extensions, if needed.
You’ll still have to find the cash on your own, but having more time to pay your tuition bill gives you a chance to save for it.
2. Consider a personal loan
Another way to finance your education is to take out a personal loan from a bank or financial institution. Personal loans usually have higher interest rates and shorter repayment periods than student loans, but they have fewer restrictions on how you can use the money. Personal loans allow you to borrow what you need quickly to start your program.
If you’re not currently working or if you have poor credit, you might need a cosigner — a friend or relative with excellent credit and a stable salary — to sign the application with you. Having a cosigner increases your chances of getting approved for a loan and receiving a competitive interest rate.
3. Check out guaranteed-hire schools
Many coding boot camps, such as the Flatiron School, stand by the quality of the programs they offer. They’re so confident that what you learn will be valuable that they offer a tuition-guarantee. If you meet certain criteria, these schools will reimburse your tuition fees if you fail to get a job within six months of graduation.
A tuition-guarantee reduces some of the risks of paying for a coding boot camp. You can be confident that if the program is ineffective and you struggle to find a job, you won’t be out thousands.
Advancing your career
If you’ve decided to switch careers, figuring out how to get student loans and pay for school can be challenging. Thankfully, the industry is growing, and more lenders are willing to work with boot camp students.
By doing some research and identifying all of your options, you can find a way to finance your education that fits your needs.
And if you’re looking for a reputable coding boot camp, check out this list of continuing education programs.
Honey Smith contributed to this article.
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