Coding “boot camps” and “academies” have sprung up to get smart people into high-paying programming jobs quickly. Offering federal student aid to boot camp students could “suck most of the innovation out,” warns Alexander Holt, a New America policy analyst.
Bootcamps succeed because “their price must match labor market demands or outcomes,” writes Holt. App Academy students pay no tuition. They “pay a percentage of their first year’s income instead.”
However, federal financial is based on enrollment, not results, he writes. Instead of linking prices to student outcomes, schools will be able to raise prices regardless of their job placement rates.
There once was another highly innovative industry that federal aid ruined. For-profit companies using online distance learning tools were seen as a brand new way to educate students at lower costs (online education is still seen as the future by many, and it may be). What we failed to understand was that online programs were only innovative when they had to survive in a real market. In 2006, schools were no longer required to teach at least 50% of the program on campus, thus opening up the crazy online degrees we have now (that also exist at prestigious universities) with little or no evidence they lead to positive outcomes for students.
The Department of Education wants to help low-income students access high-quality, innovative programs, Holt writes. “But what starts as expanding access ends with bad actors taking advantage of federal dollars with no strings attached.”