When it comes to educational technology companies and coding schools, students often do not qualify for federal grants and loans; many are pushed to rely on private loans for students, making it much harder to learn. This is about to change. The Obama administration has launched an experiment that makes student aid available for degree or certificate programs offered via partnerships with higher education institutions and non-traditional or vocational schools.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it will work with eight programs in what it calls the Educational Quality through Innovation Partnerships (EQUIP) program. The objective is to learn how financial aid, in this capacity, can help low-income students find secure jobs. If the program is successful, it may lead to more partnerships and an increasing number of students who qualify for financial aid to take a coding bootcamp or online classes. The University of Texas at Austin has partnered with the software bootcamp MakerSquare to give students a 13-week program where they can earn a certificate in Web development. It also had two successful EQUIP applicants.
Moreover, the Dallas Community College System will soon let students earn an associate degree in business or criminal justice by taking up to 75 percent of their courses online with education company, StraighterLine. Other students, who have been successful EQUIP applicants, are located in Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Colorado and Massachusetts. Two of those partnerships focus on workplace skills. Three of the schools offer coding education.
In fact, Colorado State University’s Global Campus in Greenwood Village, CO works with Guild Education to help low-wage workers move up towards management with a one-year certificate program in management and leadership. Thomas Edison State University in Trenton, New Jersey is an EQUIP participant that offers an undergraduate liberal arts degree. The institution is partnering with Study.com to help students gain a B.A. in liberal arts or a B.S. in business administration. During the first year of the experiment, the Department of Education intends to spend up to $5 million in Pell Grants and $12 million in federal loans.
Nick Mann, policy director of San Francisco-based Reactor Core, who acquired MakerSquare in early 2015 said, “There is just an astronomical demand for these skills. EQUIP has opened up an opportunity for the bootcamp sector to fill that market need. We don’t expect to replace the computer science degree.” MakerSquare normally charges a tuition of $16,920. It will now charge $13,860. In order to continue with the program, the eight partnerships must show that they have been approved by the college or university’s accrediting body and state authorities. Some should qualify for the 2016-2017 academic year in order to receive Title IV federal aid.
The Department of Education did have to turn down partnerships for the EQUIP program. Furthermore, it will monitor the eight partnerships for as long as three years before making the decision of whether or not this is beneficial for students and taxpayers. Coding Dojo marketing executive Kevin Saito shared, “Coding Dojo and Bellevue College are both extremely interested in the EQUIP program and we will watch closely to see the results from this first round of pilots. The timing of our first class did not line up with the EQUIP application so were not able to submit a proposal for this initial round. We have every intention of applying for the program in a future round.”