Is Financial Aid For Coding Boot Camps Good For the Beneficiaries?

By Victor Ochieng

The for-profit colleges have for years added to the number of graduates. However, the aid they receive from the federal government has been widely criticized; with some critics saying a lot of it ends in the pockets of administrators when they’re actually supposed to benefit low-income students.

Another question that many have been asking is whether the education these students get from these for-profit institutions are beneficial to them in the long run. Well, most of the beneficiaries are students of Black and Hispanic backgrounds. Unfortunately, they are the same groups that face the highest unemployment rates across the nation. It, therefore, means that these students end up burdened with debts.

In fact, there are some students who leave the colleges worse off than if they had no college education at all.

Interestingly, there are some for-profit colleges that have devised new ways of providing short intensive courses that are on high demand. These courses are generally marketable and are offered at low prices. That allows the students to quickly take a course and get employment within a very short period.

An article published on the Economist analyzed computed coding boot camps, which derive their name from the fact that they’re short, brief and intense. After a period of three to six months, the students are done with the training and find their way to well paying jobs.

What makes these courses quite attractive to students is the fact that they’re fairly priced, with most of them ranging between $10,000 and $20,000. This is way lower than a degree program that would require sums to the tune of hundreds of thousands.

The Economist article revealed that a total of 16,000 students graduated from coding boot camps in 2015, representing a 138% increase from 2014. Black Enterprise has even previously written about students who leave their jobs to pursue such courses, ending up earning higher salaries.

The challenge has, however, been that these schools aren’t accredited thus rendering them ineligible for federal funding, which consequently block out many low income students. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education unveiled a pilot program meant to give access to federal funding to “nontraditional providers” such as these coding boot camps.

The question is: How much of a good idea is it?

The Economist doesn’t think it’s a good idea. This is particularly so because the debt burden has traditionally been falling on Black and Hispanic students, which could affect wealth building along racial lines.

Plans are underway to link the boot camps to accredited educational institutions, something that would work perfectly for students who’re taking other traditional courses and picking the boot camps as add-ons.

However, just providing aid for low income students to take these crash courses without traditional degree courses doesn’t come forth as a good idea.

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