App Academy’s Tuition Philosophy: Why We Don’t Make You Pay Until You Find a Job

app academy tuition cost philosophy

Since App Academy was founded in 2012, we’ve committed to a mission of increasing access to software engineering careers. 

“There are over 100,000 unfilled software engineering roles open in the US each year. A big reason for that is that there are significant barriers to entry — financially, culturally, and otherwise. We wanted to change that [with App Academy’s tuition philosophy]” says App Academy CEO, Kush Patel.

“We want to empower people who are looking to enter this industry, no matter who they are or where they’re from, to gain access to high-paying positions. That’s why we were the first school to reverse the incentive structure of education by charging students only if they find a job.”

Patel says, “Aligning student’s incentives with our own has been our philosophy since the day we started App Academy and it continues to be a foundational piece that all of our courses are built on.”

To ensure that App Academy’s incentives are aligned with its students’, we charge no upfront tuition until you’re hired and earning at least $50,000 per year in total compensation. If you’re not hired after completing the program, you owe App Academy nothing – literally, $0. For people used to the traditional education’s high upfront tuition costs and no guarantee afterwards, you might be wondering how this all works. It starts with something called the Income Share Agreement (ISA).

What is an income share agreement (ISA)?

In short, an income share agreement is a financing option between a school and a student where in exchange for covering the upfront cost of the student’s tuition, the student agrees to pay back a percentage of their income for a fixed number of years.

ISAs have grown in popularity over recent years in the bootcamp and trade school spaces. Traditional 4-year universities are following suit as students seek other options besides taking on student loan debt.

How income share agreements work vary by the actual institution, as every program boasts different tuition rates. Most, if not all, allow the student to complete their course for free (or for a small sign-up fee) and begin making monthly payments so long as a particular income threshold is met.

It’s tough to infer exactly what those monthly payments would look like without a crystal ball, but Nerd Wallet cites a few considerations for inferring what your payments may look like:

  • Ask the lender (school, bootcamp, or private company) for the amount

If an ISA is the financing option you’re choosing, you can ask an admissions specialist or other counselor to determine, based on their rates, what your monthly payment could look like. By weighing this against other monthly expenses, you can deduce the salary you’d need to be making after the program to make it worth it.

  • Do employer market research

What are people in the same job title you’re looking to earn making in your area? Use Glassdoor or the Bureau of Labor Statistics to see what you can expect an average salary to look like.

How does an ISA work for App Academy tuition?

Once admitted to our 24-week bootcamp, if you select the ISA tuition plan, you will pay nothing upfront and $0 in tuition to begin your program. There are no income or credit score requirements, so all are eligible to attend App Academy under the ISA tuition plan.

After you’ve completed your course and graduated, you’ll begin the job search process and (hopefully!) land your dream job as a Software Engineer. 

So long as you are making an annual salary of at least $50,000, you’ll pay back tuition in monthly installments equal to 15% of your monthly income. You’ll continue making these payments for 36 months or until you’ve reached the ISA maximum of $31,000 — whichever comes first.

Income Share Agreement flowchart image result App Academy

This is the preferred model for most of our students. In 2020, over ¾ of graduates chose the income share agreement option.

For alumni Mark Mullan, it was important to align his own success with that of his bootcamp. This is why he wound up at App Academy:

“For me, the ISA was the biggest differentiator when I selected a bootcamp. It allowed me to de-risk my career switch, and gave me full confidence that the curriculum would be filled with in demand skills. It also made me feel like App Academy’s financial interests were 100% aligned with my own, and the more that I succeeded, the more they would as well.”

In the event that you complete the course and have not found a job earning at least $50,000 within 3 years, you are not charged any tuition for the program.

Who would best benefit from an ISA over other App Academy tuition options?

An ISA is ideal for those who either can’t pay App Academy tuition upfront, or would simply like to ensure that their school’s incentives are aligned with theirs. 

ISAs also take the pressure of paying upfront tuition away from students; upfront tuition costs often act as a barrier to going to a bootcamp. Because bootcamps are Title IV ineligible, students cannot apply for grants from the government to finance their education; you have to pay out-of-pocket” [Career Karma].

This helpful image, also from Career Karma, isn’t necessarily representative of all our options and costs (for example, we do not offer the GI Bill), but these are important considerations to make when determining how to fund your bootcamp:

How To Pay For Coding Bootcamp Infographic-career karma

What if I’m not interested in the ISA? Are there other App Academy tuition options? If you are not interested in the ISA, you are also able to pay for App Academy upfront.

App Academy Upfront tuition plan.

Our Upfront plan is the least expensive option in the long run, but it does require students to put down the entire tuition amount before their cohort begins. If you are interested in paying upfront, but do not have the funds to do so, we also work directly with Climb, our preferred loan partner, to help you finance your upfront tuition.


Image result for climb financial aid


The cost of tuition for our 24 week immersive program is $20,000 upfront with zero income-based repayment. You will be required to pay in two installments; $5,000 within seven days after acceptance and $15,000 at least one week prior to your cohort starting.

Because our courses require full-time commitment and cannot be completed in tandem with a full-time job, our partner Climb also offers loans for living expenses while you’re completing your bootcamp.

cimb financial aid flowchartBecause we only work with schools who have demonstrated that they can actually improve the career potential of their graduates, we’re incredibly excited to be able to provide financing options for App Academy programs. Everyone’s financial situation is different, and our loans can be a good choice for those who need additional funds for living expenses — or for those who just prefer the assurance of knowing how much they’ll owe throughout the coming months. And since we only perform a hard credit pull once a loan is funded, you can submit a 5-minute online Climb application to see what your payments will look like, with no impact to your credit score, before making any financial commitment!

For more information about these options, check out our FAQ page.





Conclusion: Make the right choice for you and your future

Ultimately, everyone has different financial situations. Setting yourself up for success in the future means feeling comfortable with the decisions you make today.

If you are considering a bootcamp and have questions about the best way to pay for your education, talk with one of our admissions specialists who can walk you through every option.

What do you think?

18 points
Upvote Downvote

Written by Courtney Grace

Leave a Reply