Coding boot camp? There may be a Pell Grant for that

Janet Nguyen Jul 2, 2015

Coding boot camp students may want to get in the financial aid line. The Department of Education is considering making Pell Grants available to them.

The experimental program, which is still in the planning stages, would enable accredited colleges to “contract out entire programs” to boot camps that teach programming skills, allowing their students to receive the need-based grants.

Ben Miller, a senior director at the Center for American Progress, says he thinks the Department of Education’s plans stem from frustration about the cost of higher education.

“This is a chance to test out whether new actors can do as well or better than established colleges for potentially less money,” he says. 

How funds will be doled out, along with other details, have yet to be announced.

Accredited universities and colleges must adhere to Title IV requirements for their students to receive federal funding, Miller says. If a student drops out early in a program, the money must be returned.

“The thing that complicates it a little bit is this experiment authority they have allows them to waive some of those [stipulations],” Miller says. “So we just don’t know … they might not have to deal with it.”

The Pell Grants could help coding programs attract a broader audience, he says.

Miller also says that the funding experiment should proceed carefully.

“It’s important to conduct this as a true experiment, to measure quality and make sure it makes sense, and expand cautiously,” Miller says. “[It’s] making sure that you … don’t expand eligibility so far that you’re letting in a bunch of providers who just aren’t as good.” 

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