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Holberton School's Income Share Agreement: What You Need to Know

Imogen Crispe

Written By Imogen Crispe

Last updated on October 4, 2019

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    Table of Contents

  • Q&A


With the aim of making education as accessible as possible, Holberton School has offered income share agreements for students since it launched in 2016. We wanted to find out exactly how the ISA works, and whether it is a good deal for students, so we asked Holberton School’s Director of Marketing Amandine Aman to explain all the details. She tells us what the eligibility requirements are for the ISA, at what point graduates need to start paying, and the maximum amount anyone will have to pay. She also tells us what sort of salaries Holberton graduates can expect!

What you need to know:

  • As a US citizen, permanent resident, or a non-immigrant with a work visa, you may be eligible for Holberton’s ISA.
  • Grads start repaying once they are earning $40,000.
  • Grads pay 17% of earnings for 42 months, with an $85,0000 cap on repayments.
  • If a student does not find a job, or only earns under the minimum threshold, then no payment is due.


Can you tell me your role at Holberton School and how you’re involved in the income share agreement?

I am the Director of Marketing at Holberton School. The Income Share Agreement (ISA) is one of the reasons why I joined Holberton School – it was among the first institutions to offer that option.

An Income Share Agreement (or ISA) is a financial structure in which an individual or organization provides something of value (often a fixed amount of money) to a recipient who, in exchange, agrees to pay back a percentage of their income for a fixed period of time. In our case, the cost of the tuition is deferred and payable via an ISA. ISAs are an innovative way to fight student debt and help more people get access to a quality education, and peace of mind.

Why does Holberton School offer an ISA? Has Holberton School always offered one?

Our mission is “high-quality education for the many,” so ISAs are a big part of that mission. Not everyone is able to pay for their education upfront, so Holberton School has always offered ISAs to make sure everyone gets access to a high-quality education. We invest in each student’s education and they only pay the school back when they find a high-paying job. This money is used to fund the next generation of students.

We want Holberton School to be as accessible as possible, and make sure that a candidate’s education background, previous work experience, age, ethnicity, gender, or financial situation do not prevent them from becoming students.

We believe ISAs are a great opportunity to help prevent student debt. Unlike regular student debt, ISAs do not have any interest accruals during or after school, so students don’t need to play catch-up for years before making a dent in what they owe. There are more than 44 million borrowers who collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. alone.

What qualities are you looking for in a student that makes them a suitable candidate to receive the ISA? Are you looking for someone with a certain background?

At Holberton School, our admissions are based on individuals’ motivations. We believe that everyone can learn how to code. Therefore, our admissions process is not based on your previous grades, whether or not you are good at STEM subjects, or on your previous experience. No prior coding experience or specific knowledge is required to pass our application process.

The Holberton admissions process has 3 levels. Once you pass level 3, and if you meet our eligibility requirements (see below), you are a candidate for our ISA. Otherwise, we also offer other financing options.

Can students pay upfront instead of using the Holberton ISA?

Yes, students who do not meet the eligibility requirements for the ISA, can pay $45,000 for year 1 and $40,000 for year 2.

If a student finds a good job after the first year at Holberton School, do they still have to pay for the second year?

Tuition at Holberton is for a lifetime of education. Students who leave the school and start a full-time job making more than $40,000 before the end of the two-year curriculum, will start paying back the full deferred tuition via the ISA. We provide continued access to the curriculums and can re-enroll them for specialization if they wish to pursue them at a later time.

If a student is paid more than the minimum threshold during an internship during the two-year Holberton curriculum, then that also qualifies as part of the repayment structure.

What are the eligibility requirements to get an ISA?

Our requirements for ISA eligibility are as follows:

  1. You must be enrolled in the Holberton Full-Stack Software program.
  2. You must be a US citizen (includes naturalized citizens), permanent resident, or non-immigrant with a US work visa.
  3. At the time of the application, you must be at least the age of majority in your current state of residence.
  4. Your total obligations under all income-based agreements with us or another person must not require you to pay an aggregate income share in excess of twenty-five (25) percent of your earned income in any given month.


What are the terms of the ISA?

  • Students who pay their tuition via an ISA start paying once they find a job that pays at least $40,000 per year. Students’ repayment is based on their income once they start working.
  • Graduates pay 17% of earnings for 42 months
  • The maximum amount students will pay is $85,000.
  • If they repay less than the $85,000 in the 42 months of work, we will forgive the difference.
  • If a student does not find a job, or only earns under our minimum threshold, then no payment is due. A student has up to 24 months of deferment to find a job or get above the threshold. If after the 24 months they still do not have a job or are under the threshold, they will owe $0 per month for the following 42 months until the full time has lapsed or they have a high-paying job.

The best way to visualize the ISA is to use our tuition estimator:


How do you keep track of what students are earning after they graduate?

We work with Vemo, a company specialized in ISA collection in the education industry. This company collects offer letters, end of year W2, and audits graduates’ 1040 tax filings on a yearly basis.

Since it’s in Holberton School’s interest to get paid, how will Holberton School make sure grads find jobs earning the threshold amount?

Our curriculum is project-based. It is geared toward preparing students to be successful in their jobs, but also to be prepared to find a job. We offer help and counseling with opportunity hunting and interview readiness through the staff and mentor networks Our students keep in touch with us and let us know when they land a job.

The average full-time starting salary for Holberton School students is $105,000 per year. We are confident that all of our students will meet the $40,000 per year threshold. Our curriculum team works closely with industry leaders to make sure that our curriculum is training students to be job-ready. So far, 100% of our graduates have found a job within 6 months of graduating.

Can you give some examples of the sorts of jobs where grads would get paid that amount?

While we cannot share specific information for privacy reason, some of Holberton School students are working in Software Engineering jobs at startups like Scality, PagerDuty and Darby Smart and at large companies like Tesla, Apple, and Google.

Find out more and read Holberton School reviews on Course Report. Check out the Holberton School website. The next cohort starts January 28th, 2019.

About The Author

Imogen Crispe

Imogen Crispe

Imogen is a writer and content producer who loves exploring technology and education in her work. Her strong background in journalism, writing for newspapers and news websites, makes her a contributor with professionalism and integrity.

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