Bootcamp Income Share Agreements (ISAs)

Bootcamp Income Share Agreements

Income share agreements are one of the reasons many people are drawn to some bootcamps. It feels no risk - you don’t have to pay anything until your income hits a certain threshold. But the reality of these data science bootcamp and coding bootcamp income share agreements is they can end up costing a LOT more in the long run.

Some programs also - or alternatively - offer deferred tuition which lets you pay after you’ve finished the program or a job guarantee if you can’t find a job after you complete the program. Learn more about bootcamp job guarantees. 

Bootcamp Payment Options

Many bootcamps offer a variety of financing options and guarantees. 

Upfront Payment

All bootcamps give you the option to pay the fees as a lump-sum payment before starting the program. This is typically going to be the least expensive option that's offered. Rather than the bootcamp company taking on risk that some people won't pay or using a third party loan servicer, the individual taking the course is the one who assumes all the risk.

Deferred Tuition

Deferred tuition is similar to traditional student loans with payments and interest waiting until you leave the program.

There is normally a grace period of 6-12 months before you start making payments after leaving the program. Interest rates and payments vary by program.

Job Guarantees

Job guarantees aren't a bootcamp payment option, but they do give people a sense of security about paying for a bootcamp.

Job guarantees are refund programs where you’ll receive your money back if you meet certain criteria and don’t find a job. Unlike deferred tuition and income share agreements (which we'll cover below), most job guarantees require you to pay up front.

Unfortunately, job guarantees often come with significant risk.  Learn more about bootcamp job guarantees. 

That leads us to Income Share Agreements or ISAs. 

What is an Income Share Agreement? 

As with deferred tuition, income share agreements means that you don’t pay anything until after you’re finished with the program. With ISAs, students pay a percentage of their salary to the school for a set period of time. Depending on the school, the percentage can range from 8% to 25%, and you may be sharing your income for 1 year to 4 years.

Any reputable program will cap what you’ll have to pay back. Most programs limit these ISA options to certain locations - often major cities - where there are significant job prospects.

Income Share Agreement Example #1

This article is to help you make an informed decision, not to call out any specific company. I’ll be talking about income share agreements for some popular bootcamps though. If you’ve looked at a bootcamp that offers an income share agreement option, there’s a good chance their terms are similar to what I’ll talk about today.


There’s an upfront deposit of $1-2,000 (so they aren’t FULLY deferred).

Deferral Period

After you leave the program, there’s a 6 month grace period before payments begin.

Note here that these income share agreements typically are still enforceable even if you don’t COMPLETE the program.

Base Income Level

For this bootcamp, income has to be $3,333.34/ mo - equivalent to $40k a year - to kick in. Any month you make more than this level, you owe 10% of your income (10% total, not of the excess). 

Agreement Duration

The ISA lasts for 8 years, 48 payments, or until you hit the total payment cap.

How Much You Will Pay

If your income in the 8 years after you leave the program never hits $3333.34/mo ($40k), then you’ll only pay the deposit amount. 

Let’s be realistic though - most people don’t go through a data science bootcamp, coding bootcamp, etc. to stay in a low paying job. They’re going through the bootcamp to get into a job that pays more. So they’re more than likely going to pay for the program.

Let’s say you find a job paying $40,000 - exactly the amount where the ISA kicks in. You’d pay $333.33 / mo for 48 months for a total of $17k ($16k in monthly payments plus $1k deposit). 

Payment Cap

I mentioned there’s a total payment cap though. This program caps total payments at 1.5x the ISA amount plus the deposit. 

In this case, the normal tuition amount is $17,000. Let’s assume an upfront deposit of $1k meaning an ISA amount of $16k. At a 1.5x cap, the max you would pay would be $25k ($24k ISA x1.5 + $1k deposit). 

How much do you have to make to hit the payment cap? 

If you earn $60k or more a year - very reasonable to expect given the typical salary for analytics jobs - then you’d hit the payment cap and pay $25k total. 

If your pay - and therefore - payments vary - you might end up paying something in between.

Other programs have a similar structure - sometimes with even less info available up front. 


  • Bootcamp Cost: $17,000
  • Deposit: $1,000-2,000
  • Base Income Level: $3,333.34/mo ($40k/yr equivalent)
  • Income Share Rate: 10%
  • Deferral Period: 6 months
  • ISA Cap: 1.5x
  • Maximum Number of Payments: 48 - max 8 years

Income Share Agreement Example #2

Here is a bootcamp that is similarly popular and with almost the same terms.

  • Bootcamp Cost: $16,000
  • Deposit: $250
  • Base Income Level: $3,333.34/mo ($40k/yr equivalent)
  • Income Share Rate: 10%
  • Deferral Period: 6 months
  • ISA Cap: 1.5x
  • Maximum Number of Payments: 48

Income Share Agreement Example #3

A third example of bootcamp income sharing comes from a popular program, but has different terms compared to the first 2 examples.

This bootcamp markets their tuition fee as $30,000 with a 50% discount for up front payment. I've standardized everything to the up front cost to make it directly comparable to the other programs.

  • Bootcamp Cost: $15,000**
  • Deposit: $1,000-2,000
  • Base Income Level: $4,167/mo ($50k/yr equivalent)
  • Income Share Rate: 17%
  • Deferral Period: 6 months
  • ISA Cap: 2x
  • Maximum Number of Payments: 24 - max 5 years

Should You Avoid Income Share Agreements?

No. They still are a good option for some people.

Income Share agreements are rarely going to be the most cost effective option. You’re going to pay more over time than you would with other options.

Depending on the deferred tuition cost, ISAs are often - though not always - more expensive. If you have a way to pay up front that’s the best choice.

If you can do deferred tuition and have no penalty for prepayment, that’s likely the second best option.

The reality for some people is they’ll struggle to come up with the money to pay up front for these programs. It would take years of time sacrificing a potentially much higher salary to save up - or it might just not be feasible for some people at all. You may also be in a job currently where the payments under deferred tuition are just not realistic if you can’t find a new job quickly after the bootcamp.

In these cases, ISAs may be your best option.

There are much worse financing options. Putting the cost on a credit card which might charge 19-30% interest or more is probably the worst financing option.