How student aid could ruin coding boot camps

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.

Participants take part in HTML500, a course which teaches computer coding skills, in Vancouver, B.C. Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 HE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Coding students in a Vancouver boot camp. Photo: Jonathan Hayward, Canadian Press

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.”

Here’s who can’t repay student loans

To the extent there is a college debt crisis, “it is concentrated among borrowers from for-profit schools and, to a lesser extent, two-year institutions,” concludes a Brookings paper.

Why?  Students who choose for-profit colleges and community colleges disproportionately are less-prepared students from lower-income families. The weakest students gain the smallest benefit from enrolling in college. Even a small loan is hard to repay.

“Colleges with lower standards offer a way to get a degree without being very bright, writes FuturePundit. It’s not surprising that “students who to go the low IQ colleges default at much higher rates.

He adds: “Kids who aren’t too bright are being economically harmed by delaying work to go to colleges where they won’t learn anything useful.”

For-profit accused of job placement lies

For-profit Corinthian Colleges lied to students and investors about its job placement rate, according to a lawsuit filed by California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

U of Phoenix partners with community colleges

The University of Phoenix will roll out more than 100 new partnerships with community colleges in the coming year. The nation’s largest for-profit university will offer bachelor’s degree programs to two-year graduates, gaining students who are more likely to graduate and repay their student loans.

Under increasing regulatory scrutiny, the University of Phoenix has seen enrollment drop precipitously from a peak near 500,000 to 320,000.

College loan default rate rises

Two years after leaving college, 8.8 percent of borrowers have defaulted on their student loans, up from 7 percent. That includes 15 percent of for-profit college students.

Also on Community College Spotlight:  President Obama wants to spend $5 billion to upgrade and repair buildings at community and tribal colleges. But college leaders aren’t holding their breath.

A new online college model

A new online two-year college is a partnership between a private university and a for-profit education company.  

Also on Community College Spotlight: Mentoring matters.