HackerYou College of Technology in Toronto is launching an Income Share Agreement (ISA): an initiative that lets students go to school for free in exchange for a predetermined portion of their salary later on. The school hopes to encourage a diverse group of students to pursue coding and computer sciences.
Students rack up a lot of debt when they go to school. Especially for those who are from lower-income families, it can be quite difficult to make the decision to invest so much money and time into education. For some, they choose to work before pursuing a university or college degree so that they have some money to afford it; taking out loans is not always the best choice for some. With programs like what’s offered at HackerYou, more young people have the incentive to pursue higher education if they truly want it.
The ISA initiative allows students to study at the institution without having to worry about paying fees right away, whether that be directly to the school or a government or bank loan. Those who choose the ISA option would pay $1 up-front for a nine-week, full time web development boot camp program. Usually, this would cost around $12,000. Once the student graduates and earns a before-tax salary of $50,000, they will need to pay back 17% of their income for the next 24 months.
In sum, a former student who earns $50,000 per year would be paying $17,000 in owed tuition fees after two years of payments. If a student, however, is not able to get a job that pays a high enough salary, their debt to the school will be waived. The school, therefore, is investing a lot into each student, and they hope that the skills they are able to teach these students will land them a good job. Successful pupils could also end up paying 250% of a standard tuition cost because the cap for payback is $30,000.
There are critics who argue that the program is a form of indentured servitude, and students are better off taking loans the traditional way. However, HackerYou presents a survey that 97% of their students got a job, with most getting it in the first three months after graduation. While ISA remains a risk, it still remains a good option for those who want to learn how to code.