Federal Student Loans Expand To Cover Some Coding Boot Camps

October 14, 2015

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET with details about partnering with colleges

Starting soon, students will be able to use federal loans to pay for certain coding boot camps, the immersive web development courses that promise to make students into programming experts in just a few months.

The experimental program will allow traditional accredited colleges to partner with coding boot camps and other short-term certification programs. Because they’re attached to colleges, the U.S. Department of Education will be able to evaluate their effectiveness. Colleges can begin applying today.

The price tag for coding boot camps can be as much as $20,000, but the allure of high paying tech jobs has attracted an estimated 16,000 students this year alone. Enrollment in these programs is soaring, but the hefty cost means camps have been popular mostly among those privileged enough to afford the risk.

Although the courses are unaccredited, the people behind them say the price is worth it. They say 90 percent or more of graduates are landing jobs. Now, traditional colleges will be able to select a coding partner and a third-party organization to monitor its effectiveness. The chosen coding camp will then be eligible for federally subsidized loans. While it’s unclear how many coding camps will be involved at first, it’s a step toward making them more accessible.

What does this all mean? For that, take a look back to the work our own Anya Kamenetz has done on this unconventional form of higher education in the past year. She looked into the “microcredentials” boot camps began offering last October as a way for students to prove their new skills and then took us into the life of a student enrolled in a camp in December. And last summer, she reported on an option for financing the fast-track programs: high-interest loans from private lenders.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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