— With tuitions ever rising and student debt exploding
to $1.45 trillion, there has been increased pressure on
schools to demonstrate their value based on their
success in placing graduates in good-paying jobs.
for-profit computer-coding boot camp in Philadelphia,
the local branch of the New York Code and Design
Academy, has taken the bull by the horns. In October, it
began offering students a you-can’t-lose financing
promise called an income share agreement.
ISA puts the burden back on the school to do its job, to
turn out skilled graduates who can apply what they’ve
learned to actually make a living," said school
founder and CEO Jeremy Snepar. "When, and only
when, you start to make a minimum salary of $40,000, you
start to pay us back — with 8 percent taken out of
payback clock continues to run for 48 months maximum, or
until the student has returned just what was borrowed
with no interest, whichever comes first. "We’re
saying, if you don’t get a fair return on your
investment, then we haven’t done our job and you
shouldn’t owe us anything," Snepar said.
the odds are running in Snepar’s favor and those of
his backing group, Strayer Education, which acquired all
six outposts (New York, Jersey City, Philadelphia,
Washington, Salt Lake City, and Amsterdam) of New York
Code and Design Academy in January 2016 and hosts the
Philly branch at 1601 Cherry St.
ISA is being offered to students enrolled in the
Philadelphia and Salt Lake City branches of NYCDA’s
web development intensive program — a 12-week, early
morning-to-late night deep dive into coding languages,
"Full Stack" website construction, and UI
(User Interface) design that carries a $15,000 price
25 students currently in the Philadelphia program went
for the can’t-lose financing deal.
"works out to $1,250 a week, $31.25 an hour,"
Pramod Abicandani, an electronics and
computer-technology professor until recently based at
Drexel University, said when asked to assess the
program. "If they do all the things mentioned on
their website — the weekly programmatic breakdown —
then this is a good deal on all counts."
onetime investment analyst for Lehman Bros., Snepar said
he first saw the need for specialty schools "when I
was helping start-ups raise capital, largely so they
could hire more developers."
with the average starting salary for a coder in the
$60,000 to $65,000 range, "there’s a lot of
incentive to take this crash course, which taught me a
lot more about coding than I did studying electrical
engineering in college and grad school, and then graphic
design in an associate degree program," said boot
camp grad Chuong Nguyen of South Philadelphia. Now a
front-end web designer for New Hope’s Vantage Lab, the
Vietnam-born, Paris-raised Nguyen said he was hired
"two weeks after finishing the NYCDA course."
the other hand, Erin Mahon didn’t connect with a job
(at digital-marketing agency Brolik) for more than a
year after first matriculating in the program.
"Honestly, I didn’t feel all that satisfied about
my abilities after the course sessions. So I shared that
with the school administrators, and they were wonderful,
said I could retake the whole course, plus separate,
specialized evening classes, for no additional
coding is largely a mind-set and self-confidence game,
said former NYCDA instructor Jonathan Wexler, now a
senior software engineer for Bloomberg Law. "The
school puts a lot of emphasis on team building,
feedback, and collaboration, the community aspects of
development, which are often missing when you take
coding courses online at a Cousera, Udacity or Team
STORY CAN END HERE)
ISA program functions as a great equalizer for potential
attendees, said Snepar: An applicant’s past
achievements, native talent, and potential (judged in
pre-entry screenings) rule objectively; credit history
is not a factor at all. ISA also functions as a serious
marketing differentiator for NYCDA.
Academy set up shop in February, and Trilogy Education
Services now runs a 24-week Coding Boot Camp under the
auspices of Penn Arts and Sciences. Likewise on the
scene are Coded by U and branches of Apprentice.io,
American Graphics Institute and Horizons Academy.
consolidation is being felt. Dev Bootcamp (backed by
test-prep company Kaplan Inc.) and the Iron Yard (backed
by the University of Phoenix’s parent) are shutting
down this year. New York’s Flatiron School was
recently bought by WeWorks.
an ISA-style solution for responsible education funding
has earned attention at Purdue University and MissionU,
a San Francisco-based one-year feeder program for tech
industries that takes 15 percent of a grad’s salary
for three years as long as she makes more than $50,000
this year, Indiana Rep. Todd Young and Florida Sen.
Marco Rubio proposed (for naught) the "Investing in
Student Success Act of 2017" that would have
designated an ISA as a "qualified education
loan," with payments tax-deductible, like
student-loan payments. The latter are now on the
chopping block in the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act"
passed last week by the House.