What Some Coding Bootcamps Don't Want You to Know About Their ISAs - Income Share Agreements

By Ludo Fourrage

Last Updated: June 5th 2024

Are Income Sharing Agreements scams? The truth about these predatory loans.

No one should pay $25,000 for a 12-week class.

(This is the second article in our series on ISA programs. Read the first article Are Incoming Sharing Agreements Scams? And the third Nucamp’s Fair Student Agreement)

I’m alarmed by how some coding bootcamps are still advertising certain tuition finance plans, and using them to recruit students nationwide.

I see offers for a “$1,500 a month living expenses stipend" for students to attend a coding bootcamp.

This money is not a gift.

It’s a loan that’s separate from their tuition loan.

Where some of the tuition loans defer payments until graduates get a job, the living expenses loan may not allow them to wait to secure a job before starting the repayment.

This is often combined with a type of tuition repayment program called “Income Sharing Agreements" or "ISAs".

The general concept is commendable, but the execution in the industry - by some – is predatory.

And it has caused students to owe tens of thousands of dollars without getting the education or new career they were promised.

If the ISA offer presented to you sounds too good to be true, that's because it is.

Don't sign it.

Many schools have found themselves in litigation for misleading students about how ISA programs work.

And in response, schools are pausing or completely doing away with ISAs.

“…with lawsuits mounting, federal and state governments imposing restrictions and students reporting mixed satisfaction.” | hechingerreport.org | Twilight of Income Share Agreements

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Let me explain how the ISA business works.

As a student, you sign an ISA for a school with a tuition of say $18,000 for a 12-week bootcamp.

Your tuition payments are delayed while you attend school.

The agreement is that you’ll start paying back the tuition after graduation with your future income.

For example:

Once you secure a job making at least $40,000 a year, you’ll pay 15% of your gross income over several years until you reach the payment cap.

In many cases, the payment cap is close to double the original tuition price.

If you secure a job for $50,000 a year, your payment is $7,500 a year. That’s $625 a month.

And if you get a salary increase, then your payment goes up, because the agreement was that they get a percent of your future salary, not a fixed amount.

So now your salary is $60,000, but your payment increased to $9,000 a year, which is $750 a month.

This continues for years until you reach the payment cap, which could be over $25,000 by the time you’re done.

And if you accepted that $1,500/month living expense stipend while you were taking the course, then you’re paying back closer to $40,000.

That’s more debt than most students who attend a 4-year college for a bachelor’s degree.

Believe it or not, what I just explained is the best-case scenario.

Now let’s say, for example, that 4 weeks into your bootcamp you decide to drop out.

Why would you drop out?

There are many reasons why a student might drop out or be dismissed from a coding bootcamp.

One of them is realizing you’re not getting your money's worth.

Or you realize that coding is not for you.

You read the tuition refund policy and also realize that you can't get out of the ISA.

You still owe the coding bootcamp a pro-rated amount for attending only 4 weeks.

And 4 weeks represents about $6,000.

You didn't get a meaningful education.

You won't graduate.

You won’t get into a better job. At least not with their help.

Complaint made to Better Business Bureau in October 20222

“A year ago I signed up for an online coding class. It came with an *** saying that after the course, if emade a certain amount of money I would have to pay them for the course. There was a one week trial period. I called and emailed this company a few times the last day of the trial period requesting to end the trial period. The course was a joke, most of it you could learn on ******* for free. They didn't get back to me til the next day and are trying to charge me over $2000 for the trial period! This place is an absolute scam! I have seen many people saying the same. I can't believe this place hasn't been shut down yet!”

The coding bootcamp gets the money you owe them eventually and makes a profit.

Delivering those 4 weeks to you didn't cost them very much.

They were very engaged and responsive when they were trying to get you to sign the ISA.

Will they be that enthusiastic in making sure you receive a quality education?

What about setting you up to succeed with a proper support system?

And preparing you for a career shift after graduation?

In his testimonial here, one student explains how he was left with an $18,000 tuition bill for attending only 40 days in the program.

“They will sell you on every amazing promise they can, and skim over the fine print. They will convince you to quit your job and give up your independence by promising to offer a living stipend to compensate for voluntarily leaving your position at their suggestion. They will assure you a mentor and an academic success manager and many other wonderful tools all promised to make your success a certainty. And then they don't deliver any of it."

He was kicked out of the program for falling behind after a tragedy happened in his life.

He also signed-up for an ISA with a living stipend.

Pay special attention to the reasons that a bootcamp can expel a student.

Being 10 minutes late twice could be enough to dismiss you.

And you'll still owe a prorated amount of your ISA.

The Future of ISAs

ISAs have been the subject of many lawsuits over the years.

The implementation of consumer protections has been long overdue.

Government agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau , Education Department , and even Congress are starting to take action.

The threat of litigation and fear of regulation are causing many schools to pause or completely stop their ISA programs.

This is reassuring.

Fill this form to download every syllabus from Nucamp.

And learn about Nucamp's Coding Bootcamps and why aspiring developers choose us.

*By checking "I Agree", you are opting-in to receive information, including text messages from Nucamp. You also agree to the following Terms of use, SMS Terms of use & Privacy Policy. Reply STOP to stop receiving text messages.

Nucamp truly cares about giving students a meaningful education at an affordable cost.

We’re proud of our social mission, and are honestly disturbed by what we've seen in the industry over the past several years.

For this reason, we offer more financing options via Nucamp's Fair Student Agreement that provide a much better, and fairer alternative to ISAs.

Nucamp students have a safe and affordable path to get a coding education.

They have the opportunity for a great career without the risk and without being buried in student debt.

Our tuition is affordable.

Our schedule is part-time and flexible. (You don’t have to quit your job.)

Our curriculum is of the highest quality.

And our qualified instructors are subject matter experts who teach part-time for Nucamp, and work full-time in the tech industry. They are doing what they’re teaching.

Our social mission is to help all aspiring career shifters currently left out of the digital economy receive high-quality, debt-free and risk-free education.

Compare our bootcamp prices.

See if you’re eligible for one of our many scholarships.

Research our student reviews.

See our transparent graduation rates, and job placement rates.

We honestly want to help you achieve your career goals.

And we do this ethically, transparently, and with integrity.

Schedule a call with a Nucamp advisor today.

Ludo Fourrage

Nucamp CEO


Ludo Fourrage

Founder and CEO

Ludovic (Ludo) Fourrage is an education industry veteran, named in 2017 as a Learning Technology Leader by Training Magazine. Before founding Nucamp, Ludo spent 18 years at Microsoft where he led innovation in the learning space. As the Senior Director of Digital Learning at this same company, Ludo led the development of the first of its kind 'YouTube for the Enterprise'. More recently, he delivered one of the most successful Corporate MOOC programs in partnership with top business schools and consulting organizations, i.e. INSEAD, Wharton, London Business School, and Accenture, to name a few. ​With the belief that the right education for everyone is an achievable goal, Ludo leads the nucamp team in the quest to make quality education accessible