4 Things to Focus on When Saving for a Bootcamp
Thinking about your budget is not something most people enjoy. Money can be a hard topic to deal with, but it's an important factor to consider as you look at different coding bootcamps. With the average bootcamp costing upwards of $10,000 in tuition alone, we're talking about a significant financial investment—and not one you want to take lightly.
Be Smart about Financing This Time Around
Whether you've been to college or not, you probably know that traditional undergrads are notorious for taking out student loans without a complete understanding of the consequences of their debt. A lot of students are not aware of the other options available to them and after graduation, find themselves unable to get jobs that justify the amount of debt they now have to pay off.
Though the job market has been showing a steady demand for computer programmers, you should still be smart when it comes to figuring out how you'll pay for coding bootcamp. Knowing what matters to you, developing a clear strategy as it relates to money, and investigating all of your options will help you make sense of your finances.
Below are four steps to make this process easier for you--but before you jump in, here's a quick budgeting hack: Fullstack Academy & Grace Hopper Program are offering a $1,000 Early Application Scholarship for their October cohort. Applications are technically due by 8/26, but the deadline has been extended for SwitchUp readers, so that anyone who applies by Wednesday, 8/29 and enrolls by Wednesday, 9/12 is still eligible. $1000 off just for applying early? Make sure that goes at the top your list of financial strategies. Now for the rest of the list...
1. Identify the perfect bootcamp for you.
Finding the ideal place you want to land is the first step in figuring out what you need to do to get there. Before you even worry about cost, think about what matters to you and evaluate different coding bootcamps based on those merits. Questions to consider: What are you looking for in a coding bootcamp? Are you tied to a specific location? How will you learn best?
At Fullstack, we think the most important things to look at are curriculum, career success rates, and the support you'll receive both during the program and afterward. Our students choose us because they want to get hands-on, relevant experience; they love our strong hiring outcomes; and they relish being part of our tight-knit community.
2. Examine all financing options.
Once you've decided where you want to go, do your research on the following areas:
ScholarshipsAt Fullstack, we offer a variety of scholarships and need-based assistance. For example, every student attending our program in Chicago receives a $2,000 scholarship, and there are separate awards for women and veterans. There are also scholarships available from our partner organizations—like the Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship sponsored by Lesbians Who Tech, which covers 50% of bootcamp tuition for gender nonconforming and LGBTQ women who want to start careers in coding.
There is a lot of scholarship information out there that will help you make a list of and then apply for any scholarships you may be qualified for.
Payment Plans or Deferred-Tuition ModelsSome schools offer deferred-tuition plans, where you don't have to pay the full amount back until you meet certain criteria. At Fullstack's Grace Hopper Program, you pay $3,000 upon enrollment and don't owe anything more until you land your first job in the programming field.
Lending PartnersAs coding bootcamps increase in popularity, lending companies have scrambled to provide attractive deals and financing for students. In many cases, this means better terms and a deferral period following graduation. Fullstack Academy works with Skills Fund to lower borrower interest rates by taking on some of the loan risk ourselves. As more Fullstack students get lucrative jobs and pay off their loans on time, Skills Fund becomes increasingly confident about lending to future Fullstack applicants and as a result, will finance more applicants at better rates.
Ask the coding bootcamp you're interested in which lending partners they recommend.
Another option is to investigate part-time coding bootcamps. These will allow you to continue working at least part-time and, in many cases, full-time throughout school. Fullstack offers a part-time Flex Immersive Program on evenings and weekends to accommodate students with day jobs. The program covers the same information as the full-time immersive over a longer time period.
If you still have questions after looking into these financing options, contact the school staff to help you. The most important thing is to be proactive about getting information so you can apply for any aid you qualify for.
3. Don't forget about living expenses.
It can be easy to focus only on tuition costs, but remember that you'll be without a job for at least the duration of the full-time program, not to mention your time spent job searching after graduation. This means you'll need to account for all living expenses during those months.
To start, get an idea of what you're currently spending. Make a spreadsheet with all of your expenses: Start with fixed bills like rent and then track your spending over the last couple of months to determine what you spend each month on variable costs like transportation, groceries, utility bills, etc. Next, review your spreadsheet. Are there any areas where you can cut back on your spending? Are you paying for memberships you don't really need or use? Can you make lunch more often and eat out less?
Once you've trimmed the fat, use this final monthly expense number to calculate how much you'll need for, say, nine months (3 months of program + a buffer of 6 months for job searching). This, plus actual tuition, is your true total expense for coding bootcamp.
4. Be strategic with enrollment dates.
So you've been accepted to coding bootcamp. That's great! The work doesn't stop here, though. Think about choosing a start date that gives you time to save up enough to fill the gaps between any aid you may have received. At Fullstack, we accept students on a rolling basis, which means you can join any cohort starting within 6 months of your acceptance. The best case scenario is one in which you apply early, are accepted, and then have at least a few months to save before you start bootcamp.
With the right planning, your dreams of attending coding bootcamp can become reality. Taking the time to be clear about what you're looking for, researching financial aid options, and coming up with a realistic budget are all critical during this process. Budgeting for bootcamp is doable—just take it one step at a time and ask for help when you need it.