$163K tuition for a CS degree: how 42 is freeing youth from student debt

Loan-Free Education

Imagine starting your first job as a software engineer and being able to say that you have ZERO student loans. That is entirely possible at 42 where there is no tuition and no hidden fees. In an industry where the average student loan debt is pushing $40,000, we’re making access to industry-leading software engineer education possible while at the same time creating real pathways to the workforce as a software engineer.

Since the admissions process at 42 is rigorous, every admitted student has their tuition paid for because every student that attends 42 has earned a spot here. The idea of a free college-level education is not a new idea and can be found in other countries around the world. Some Americans are looking abroad at countries that offer free tuition to international students and programs of study. Around the nation, there have been some recent state proposals to increase access by providing free college, but there are some caveats. For example, in New York State you need to live and work in New York for as long as the state paid for your tuition, or it will be considered a loan and you will need to pay it back. At 42 there is no tuition to pay back, and we will always be free.

The High Cost of College = Unequal Access

The Institute of Politics (IOP) at the Harvard Kennedy School of Public Policy found that 7 out of 10 millennials consider financial issues such as student debt when deciding whether they should pursue a college degree or not. The same sentiment has been heard through other sources. According to the New York Times, a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll revealed that 83 percent of respondents stated that reducing the cost of student loan debt was the biggest issue among a long list of domestic and foreign policy proposals. For many, this issue has become a generational divide. For our parents and grandparents, they were able to graduate with little to no debt, and could even work a summer job to help pay for their tuition. Since 1985 college tuition has increased by nearly 500%, which is far above the normal overall inflation rate of 115% since 1986. According to Forbes, family income increased by 147% since 1982, but this is still far less than the rate of college tuition and makes it impossible for many individuals and their families to pay for college out of pocket. With the high cost of a college degree, it is not surprising that people don’t want to take on that burden. The high cost also makes earning a college degree even harder for students from low to middle-class households.

The Burden of High Student Debt

Student loan debt can be an even bigger issue in the San Francisco Bay Area and states where the cost of living is high since steep living costs often make it impossible for high-wage earners to qualify for income-based repayment plans. Many new college grads find themselves struggling financially, even with a six-figure income. According to Student Loan Hero, among approximately 44.2 million borrowers, Americans owe over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt. That figure is troubling enough, but what makes it worse is this figure is $620 billion more than the total U.S. credit card debt (and most people know that America’s credit card debt is a huge problem). For people who graduated college in 2017, the average student loan debt went up six percent since 2016 and is now around $39,400. According to Harvard, 42% of all 18-29 year old have student loan debt. Business Insider found that high levels of student debt can have a negative impact on other areas of your life as well, such as buying a home or car, or even one’s ability to invest in a business venture or pursue entrepreneurship. We also cannot forget about people who defaulted on their loans and were forced into further financial hardships. According to Business Insider, the Wall Street Journal found that around 4.6 million Americans defaulted on their student loans, and that adds up to $84 billion dollars.

Further Financial Loss through Loan Interest

These figures focus on federal student loans but there are also many Americans who are paying back private student loans, sometimes at the same time as federal loans (some people take out both). When an individual initially borrows money through a student loan, they may not think about how much more they need to pay back in interest rates. Some private loans may have higher interest rates and/or variable interest rates that can become higher over time than a fixed rate. For example, if you took out a 15-year, $50,000 loan with a variable interest rate that increases from 5% to 7% over time (so just a 2% difference) it could cost you nearly $10,000 MORE in addition to your regular interest charges. These are the types of “hidden fees” that many student loan borrowers naively become victim to since they are are not knowledgeable about loans and are desperate to pay for a traditional college education. In a recent article in Bustle, Kaitlyn Cawley wrote about her own experience with student loan interest, “When I was 18, I fully believed that taking out student loans was the only way to achieve my dream and my parents’ dream for me — to transcend my working-class upbringing. I was desperate and uninformed and, because of this, I entered into a dangerous relationship with a loan company that will last half my lifetime.”

Impact on the Knowledge-Based Economy

Young people looking for a job can feel like they are stuck in a loop where they are told they need college experience before they can get hands-on experience that will hopefully lead to a job offer. In addition, in order to even go down a traditional educational pathway, you may need to take out large student loans that you will eventually have to pay off. What if you want to become a software engineer?  According to CollegeCalc the average four year degree in Computer Science (aggregated across the United States) costs around $40,750 per year and after four years that adds up to $163,000. Quartz reported that Code.org found there are currently 530,000 computing jobs open in the United States, while the National Center for Education Statistics reported that only about 60,000 students graduated with bachelor degrees in computer and information services. Filling less than 10% of these jobs is a BIG problem for our knowledge-based economy.

Cost Comparison: Getting an Accredited Degree

See below for a cost comparison analysis of the average annual cost of tuition and fees at public 4-year colleges in 9 different states:

Here is another table that factors in the average annual cost of room and board, and includes the average annual cost of 2-year public colleges and private 4-year colleges in the United States:

How 42 Helps Students and the Economy

The combination of a knowledge-based economy and a student loan challenge that makes computer science degrees unaffordable is a recipe for disaster. 42 is free because we want to make education accessible, but we also want to help the national economy and train enough software engineers to match the job market demands. We’ve cut the time and cost of learning computer programming and designed a system that trains students for the working world of the 21st century. At 42, we realize that America’s educational system cannot scale or train professors fast enough to keep pace with changing technology and industry demands. The demand for software engineers is on the rise, but more importantly, so is the demand for people who can collaborate, think critically, problem solve and create. 42 is designed to help you get hands-on experience so you can secure your first job, provide opportunities for education, and prepare students for a knowledge-based economy. We use project-based learning, skills mastery, peer-to-peer correction, and gamification to foster learning. At 42, students learn computer programming to not just sustain our digital economy, but to change it, lead it, and impact the world. And if you need another reminder, tuition truly is 100% free to any student who gets through our rigorous admissions process.

For more information about 42‘s admissions process, which involves an immersive 28-day Intensive Basic Training coding experience, visit our page here.

, , ,

published by Stacey Faucett – June 11, 2018