Accelerated Learning Programs (affectionately called coding bootcamps) have gained popularity over the past three years in the education world; since bootcamps are largely judged by their ability to get graduates jobs, their success is aligned with a student’s success. Accelerated Learning Programs like General Assembly and gSchool make it their mission to fit students into a job market that is hungry for technical skills, a trend in stark contrast to traditional higher learning, where the benefit is defined over decades and across markets.

But if you’re a career changer, you may be considering several paths to break into the tech world: classes at a community college, a four-year computer science undergrad, pursuing an MBA, graduate school, etc. For any of these options, a smart student will calculate their ROI, or Return on Investment.

                   ROI is a simple calculation: [gains - cost] / cost    

But how about calculating an accurate coding bootcamp ROI, which includes factors unique to the bootcamp industry? Most accelerated learning programs self-publish their employment placement rates and salary expectations -- something substantially more transparent than the traditional education system. Even with this level of transparency, however, calculating the actual return on investment (ROI) is largely something left to the student.

The team at Earnest decided to make the calculation a bit easier by breaking down ROI as a simple three piece equation: your current financial profile, the total cost of a bootcamp, and your future expectations in the job market.

Here is the basic worksheet we would go through ourselves if choosing to attend an accelerated learning program. You can also complete a basic Bootcamp ROI Calculator at the end of this post (or download it by scrolling to be bottom) and replace the values in blue. 


What’s my current financial profile?

Current income per month after taxes:____________

Current expenses:____________

Note: be sure to include your undergrad or graduate student loan programs! We’ve found that our average applicant for a coding bootcamp loan carries $29.9k of debt, with 46.4% of that in the form of previous student loans.


What’s the total time and financial cost of the program I’m evaluating?

Time it takes to graduate: ____________

Typical full-time courses range from 3-6 months.

Cost of tuition: ____________

Full-time course costs can range from $3,000-$21,000

Upfront costs (computer, hardware, etc.):____________

For example, if you buy a basic macbook air, it will cost you around $1000

Expected cost of living during course: ____________

Note that the opportunity cost of not working during this time makes any purchase made during this time a part of the overall investment itself, which is why you should estimate your cost of living (including food & rent).

Cost of financing tuition (if any):  ____________

Beware of origination fees and other hidden charges (ask your prospective program if they have Earnest financing -- we don’t charge any hidden fees). Remember, APR is what the cost of financing is on a yearly basis. We wrote a post on the difference between APR and Interest Rate that can be helpful in distinguishing the two. In short, always be sure you know the actual APR before signing an agreement to finance your course. Every lender is legally required to disclose this, so don’t feel out of place asking what the APR is for any financing you are doing.

For example, the difference in cost between a $10,000 3-year 7% APR loan from Earnest compared to another lender where the interest rate is 9% with a 5% origination fee that gets added to the principal is over $900 over just three short years.


What are your realistic expectations after graduating from coding school?

(Try to be realistic here!)

Expected salary (be conservative): ____________

Consider the average starting salary of junior developers in your city.

Expected income taxes (local, state, federal): ____________

Not sure? Find a simple calculator here.

Anticipated time to find job placement:____________

This can be dependent on your previous experience. If you already have a technical background, you might find placement sooner and at a higher salary than the rest of your cohort. We think being conservative with a 2-3 month estimate is fair, considering most schools tout a ~95% placement rate within 3 months.


Bootcamp ROI Calculator

Replace the fields in BLUE to see how your investment will play out over the next years. 


About The Author

Patrick earnest

Patrick is on the Partnerships team at Earnest, is a provider of low-interest loans for dozens of coding bootcamps all over the country. Rates range from 5-7% APR in 1, 2 and 3 year terms. Check with your prospective coding school to see if they’re an Earnest partner.

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