Code Schools Offering Income Share Agreements, Increased Flexibility for Students

Posted By Terri Williams on April 4, 2016 at 12:09 pm
Code Schools Offering Income Share Agreements, Increased Flexibility for Students

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, software developers earn a median annual salary of $97,990 (or $47.11 per hour), and demand for these professionals is growing by 17% – which is faster than the average 7% growth rate projected for other professions.

Nevertheless, the cost of obtaining the credentials necessary to pursue a career as a software developer is staggering. Across all majors, the average U.S. college student shells out anywhere from $19,000 to $30,000 a year in tuition and fees.

But suppose you were free to study without this crushing financial weight on your shoulders? Instead, your tuition would be deferred until you secured a job as a software developer. It may sound too good to be true, but GoodCall spoke with two schools that offer income share agreements, with no upfront tuition or fees.

Keep reading to learn more about these schools, including the advantages and disadvantages of such programs as well as another innovative option that could help you avoid student loan debt.

App Academy

App Academy was founded by Kush Patel and Ned Ruggeri. After graduating from the University of Chicago, Patel pursued a financial career at a hedge fund, and Ruggeri worked in engineering as a part of Google’s search team. However, Daniel Filous, director of marketing at App Academy, tells GoodCall, “Both Ned and Kush felt similarly regarding the imbalance of incentive structures for higher education, and as the disparity grew between supply and demand for software engineers, they worked to find a solution.” And that solution was App Academy, “a web development training and job placement program where tuition is directly tied to outcomes,” explains Filous. Currently, App Academy offers 12-week coding boot camps in San Francisco and New York.

So what are the advantages of attending App Academy? Everything they do is based on one goal: helping each student obtain gainful employment as a professional software developer. “We look at the market, understand exactly what skills and knowledge are required for people to build successful careers and teach to those concepts,” according to Filous. In addition to a traditional academic approach, the program uses project-oriented teaching. “Each day, students gain experience writing a significant amount of code, building on new concepts they learn each day,” explains Filous, who adds that App Academy’s instructional staff is made up of software engineers who understand the industry and are abreast of cutting edge technology.

And, since students don’t pay anything until they find a job, they can rest assured that App Academy is doing everything it can to prepare them to be successful as a software developer. When graduates gain employment as a software developer, they pay the school a percentage of their first year’s salary.

While there are several organizations that are similar to App Academy, Filious notes, “App Academy was one of the first web development training programs in the world and the first to have a completely success-based tuition model.” And he says the program’s job placement rates and average salaries consistently rank among the top in the industry. App Academy graduates have a 98% hire rate and earn an average salary ranging from $89,000 in New York to $105,000 in San Francisco.

Viking Code School

Viking Code School has an ambitious mission: “To launch a million high-growth careers by making life-changing education accessible to anyone with the motivation and capability to seize it.” And while that may sound like a lofty vision, the school has one significant advantage over its competitors. The 16-week program is offered online.

Viking Code School’s founder, Erik Trautman, tells GoodCall, “Because we are both remote and offer the deferred fee, it makes us the most accessible program of this quality currently available.” Actually, Viking Code School does not charge tuition at all; instead it charges a placement fee when graduates get a job, which is approximately 18% of the first year’s salary. However, the fee varies by income level. For example, a graduate with a job paying between $30,000 and $50,000 pays a prorated amount. And for those who accept jobs paying less than $30,000 a year, the fee is waived.

Although the school’s software engineering students are working and learning remotely, they collaborate on projects using screen sharing, video, and chat, and the school also has high-availability instructors who are usually accessible within minutes of initiating contact.

Trautman says the program moves at a fast pace and isn’t a good fit for everyone, so there is a rigorous application process to determine the applicant’s suitability for the program. “We’re constantly looking to expand our reach so we can achieve our mission to launch a million high-growth careers, so we have a number of additional options in the pipeline for students who don’t fit the profile of our immersive program.”

Code School

Code School is also an online program, but it has the distinct advantage of being self-paced. It doesn’t offer deferred tuition or deferred fees; however, students only pay $29 a month, which provides access to over 50 courses and close to 200 screencasts. Code School originally started in 2011 as a side project of Envy Labs, a web development shop. Nick Roberts tells GoodCall, “The goal was to create easy to understand tutorials around web technologies like Ruby on Rails and the tutorials became popular and the business grew organically because of the demand for self-paced and easy to follow programming tutorials.”

Code School takes a hands-on approach to learning. Roberts explains, “We marry video instruction with in-browser coding challenges so that you’re able to code your application in real time while watching video instruction.” Students get to see their results in the browser to determine if their code is working, which eliminates the need to compile and then run the application every time they change something.

Code School allows students to learn whenever they have time between their other obligations. But, since students work at their own pace, Roberts says they need to be self-motivated to work toward accomplishing their own programming goals. “While we do our best to guide users through content, there’s still a learning curve to being able to create practical web applications.”

Roberts also says that Code School is more of a “reference library” than a traditional school, and adds, “Lots of traditional coding boot camps use Code School as part of their curriculum – like a ‘textbook’ for learning.”

The flexibility offered by Code School, App Academy and Viking Code School, along with other coding schools, represents a step forward in helping to fill the growing demand for software developers and engineers, while increasing access for students of diverse economic backgrounds to get into high-demand, high-paying jobs without taking on the burden of student loan debt.

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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