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As demand rises for technological skills, traditional computer science education can struggle to produce enough graduates to fill market needs. Bootcamps address this workforce gap by teaching those skills in a shorter, more intensive format than traditional college programs.
Bootcamps can save money compared to earning a college degree, but learners should bear in mind that these programs do not qualify for federal financial aid. However, a bootcamp education can lead to increased salary potential, delivering a positive future return on investment. Continue reading to explore the cost of coding bootcamps and how they compare to traditional degrees.
The Cost of a Coding Bootcamp by Type
Coding bootcamps costs vary by program format, length, and course load. A 2017 RTI Press study reported a median tuition of $13,500 for full-time comprehensive career preparation programs (CCPPs). In addition to CCPPs, many coding schools offer standalone courses focused on specific skills.
Shorter CCPPs typically last 1-8 weeks but may not provide the same career preparation standard as longer camps. These lower-cost courses charge a median of $8,500 for full-time programs. Immersive camps range from 9-16 weeks and maintain a $13,500 median full-time price. These camps deliver more thorough entry-level career training. The longer full-time camps provide the most in-depth learning environment with the highest median cost.
In addition to full- and part-time options, some bootcamps feature self-paced and accelerated variants to accommodate learners' schedules. Coding schools may also offer online, in-person, and hybrid formats, which can affect pacing and cost.
Source: RTI Press
Median Coding Bootcamp Costs
|Full Time||Part Time|
|Bootcamp Short Courses (1-8 weeks)||$8,500||$4,750|
|Immersive Bootcamps (9-16 weeks)||$13,500||$6,250|
|Longer Bootcamps (17+ weeks)||$17,780||$8,800|
Source: RTI Press
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Breaking Down Coding Bootcamp Costs
Tuition Costs for Bootcamps
Coding bootcamp costs allow schools to hire qualified faculty with relevant industry expertise. Many bootcamps also provide career development services. For example, students attending Devmountain bootcamp (a ranked program in our list of best bootcamps) enjoy access to a professional network of alumni and industry connections. The school's career support team provides interview coaching, job search assistance, and hiring events. Some bootcamps feature mentorship programs. Tuition revenue also helps schools maintain up-to-date technology and classroom resources.
Technology Costs for Attending a Bootcamp
Many bootcamps require students to own personal computers or laptops capable of handling program activities. Additional costs may include high-speed internet access, webcams, and microphones. Some camps recommend using headphones. Bootcamps may also designate specific operating systems, but all applicants should plan to update their operating system to its latest version.
For example, Thinkful's minimum PC requirements include 4GB of RAM, a 100 GB hard drive, and a 1.8 GHz processor. The cost of a new laptop with those specs can range from about $400-$800.
Other Costs Associated With Bootcamps
The cost of a coding bootcamp can include indirect expenditures beyond tuition and technology. Students should budget for living expenses such as food, housing, and transportation.
Bootcamp enrollees should also consider the impact of lost or reduced income during the program's duration. Required pre-assessments and introductory courses may add additional weeks to the expected schedule. The post-graduation job search may also cost time and resources.
Paying for Bootcamps
Even though bootcamps potentially save money over bachelor's programs, they may not always offer the lowest net price. Since bootcamp enrollees cannot qualify for federal financial aid, they may incur considerable out-of-pocket costs. However, according to RTI Press, 89% of CCPPs provided some sort of financial aid in 2017.
Many students finance their bootcamp education using one of these options:
- Pay Upfront. Students pay the total cost before entering the program. This payment option can save the most money in the long term by avoiding interest and other fees.
- Deferred Tuition. Deferred plans delay payments until the graduate finds a job. Some plans designate a minimum salary threshold before payments activate. However, graduates' salaries do not impact the monthly payment amount.
- Income Share Agreements. Income share agreements work like deferred tuition; graduates pay only after securing employment. Income agreements garnish a percentage of graduates' salaries rather than a predetermined figure.
- Loans. Banks and financial institutions offer private loans for bootcamp enrollees. Terms may depend on factors such as credit history, income, and employment.
- Fellowships and Scholarships. Some students may qualify for computer science scholarships and fellowships. For more information on gift aid, visit our financial aid and scholarships guide.
- GI Bill®. GI Bill programs help veterans and active military personnel pay for education. This form of aid only applies to select bootcamps, so learners should verify their program's eligibility.
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Financial Perks Some Bootcamps May Offer
Bootcamp Cost vs. Bachelor's Degrees
While bootcamps frequently offer lower tuition than traditional college degrees, the cost comparison can vary depending on students' goals and circumstances. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, average annual in-state tuition for the 2018-19 academic year came to $9,212 at four-year public institutions. Median tuition for full-time bootcamps stood at $13,500 in 2019. However, since federal financial aid programs do not cover bootcamps, some students may pay less for a bachelor's program than for a bootcamp.
Bachelor's programs may phase out desired topics and may not offer students' target courses every semester. If a student misses a required course, they might have to wait until it's offered again and pay for additional semesters. Bootcamps offer set curricula when learners enroll and avoid changing the syllabus before the program's end. While bootcamps prepare learners for computer industry jobs, some employers prefer to hire bachelor's-educated applicants.
Are Bootcamps Worth the Cost?
Bootcamps can provide an entryway to lucrative computer science careers. The technical skills camps develop contribute to a strong resume, but bootcamp alone may not lead directly to entry-level jobs. Some coding schools warn against using bootcamps as an introduction to coding; instead, they recommend learners explore programming first to gain foundational knowledge.
Bootcamps can provide the most benefit to individuals with some computer science background. Students can leverage their bootcamp training to launch a new career or advance in their current position. Some companies even provide tuition assistance for their employees to attend bootcamps.
Bootcamps require students to invest time and energy as well as money. Prospective programmers looking for a quick return on investment or an immediate job offer might want to consider other options. However, bootcamps can yield a substantial return in the long run.
Frequently Asked Questions About Coding Bootcamp Costs
How much does a coding bootcamp cost?According to a 2017 study, full-time bootcamps cost a median $13,500. Part-time programs charge a median $7,500. Prices vary depending on topic, length, format, and course load.
How much do coding classes cost?Many coding schools offer standalone classes designed to teach a specific skill or programming language. These classes cost a median $2,567 per course. Unlike bootcamps, individual classes do not provide comprehensive career preparation.
Are there any free bootcamps?Yes, some organizations offer free bootcamps. Free programs often maintain competitive admission policies. Some target underrepresented populations in the tech industry. Fellowship programs, typically aimed at degree-seekers and tech professionals, may also offer free tuition.
Why are coding bootcamps so expensive?Bootcamps support students with career resources, hiring events, expert faculty, and advanced technology. High demand for these programs also contributes to their cost.
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/.
Feature Image: Sally Anscombe / DigitalVision / Getty Images
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