February 13, 2018 - by Tori Tsu

Financing Finesse: How to Ask Your Employer for Financial Aid

Last week we took a look at 5 Ways to Fund Your Bootcamp Experience. This week, we're diving a little deeper into one financing option: employer sponsorship.

As we previously covered, asking your employer for financial aid can seem like an intimidating or strange request. However, employer-sponsored education is not as uncommon as many think. In many cases, all it takes is a little research and figuring out the right person to ask.

If you want to ask your company for financial assistance, follow these steps to get started.

Do your homework


This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's an essential first step to this process.

Once you've made the decision to apply to bootcamp, prepare your research and materials on which bootcamp or program you're interested in. In most cases, the same background work you did to select a program will be what you will also want to share with your company. Prepare to make a case for why you've selected the program you chose. Cover the value of its curriculum and materials, and the outcomes you and your employer should expect.

Next, review your company's handbook or browse your internal resources to find out if your organization has a tuition reimbursement, matching, or assistance policy. If you can't find anything documented, set a meeting with your HR representative to discuss your company's policies. Come into this meeting with a few examples of what you're envisioning – full tuition coverage, partial financing, or employee matching – in case this isn't something your organization has done before but is open to exploring.

Note: It's typically more common for larger companies to offer continuing education financing options than for start-ups.

Talk to the right people

Supplement your research by searching out others who have received employer sponsorship. This may be as easy as talking to fellow employees if your company has a continuing education program, or might require a little legwork to tap your network for advice. Either way, doing this extra bit of digging, will help you shape your pitch.

Prepare your pitch

We're not saying you need to come up with a five-point plan or create a sales deck. But do come up with a thoughtful, well-researched pitch that you can deliver to your boss, HR, and employer.

Cost & value

You're asking for financial assistance, so be prepared to give a detailed breakdown of the cost, as well as the value proposition, of the program. Describe the value you'll take away from the course and the contribution you'll bring back to your company upon completion.

Learning to code and attending a bootcamp are a great way to boost your professional development and personal skills. It can also benefit your team and your company. Will you be able to take your interpersonal management skills and combine them with developer training to streamline productivity for your engineering team? Will having a technical skillset help you become a stronger leader? Are you already a seasoned customer success manager who can use programming to better solve customer's problems and build a better product? Supporting your continuing education will add value to you and enable you to do more for your company, and costs less than hiring a new headcount. Make your case based on logic and outline how your improved education can help impact the bottom line.

Relationship with the company

Financial concerns aside, be sure to also cover how you anticipate juggling your education and your work demands. Why are you asking your employer for sponsorship? Demonstrate your loyalty and dedication to your company and come up with an outline for how you hope to grow with your organization and wish to contribute to their long-term success.

Are you asking for a sabbatical as well as financial assistance to attend full-time bootcamp? Are you planning on joining a part-time course so you can work and learn at the same time? Be sure to explain your thought process behind your decision to attend bootcamp and the type of class you intend to take. For many looking to gain financial assistance through their company, a part-time program will be the top choice.

Consider too that if your employer is willing to contribute or cover your education, you may be required to sign a contract of intent. In exchange for sponsorship, both you and your employer will have certain rights and responsibilities. A payment schedule, commitment timeline, and career path may all be on the table for negotiation. Be prepared to sign documentation in order to qualify for financial assistance, and make notes of anything you need to consider, like a payback plan if you decide to leave your company after the completion of your program.

Make your case

Asking your employer for sponsorship or financial aid is not a small conversation. Come into the process ready to have multiple discussions and with a willingness to follow up on next steps. If you encounter a rejection, don't give up! Learn why you were turned down, and then take some time to do additional research, self-learning, and create another pitch. Showing your dedication to your education and continued learning will only help as you prepare to make your ask down the line. Persistence (without badgering) can benefit your pitch.

Always be ready to finance your education yourself. Scholarships, payment plans, and loan options are available for most bootcamp applicants. If your employer is unable to help, your willingness to pursue your bootcamp experience independently will show your resolve and dedication to your professional advancement. You can use this as a negotiation point when you have the opportunity to move internally or during your annual review. Some employers may be willing to compensate you with a bonus after graduation and proven work output, rather than before.

Next steps

As you enter the bootcamp selection and application process, consider why you want to learn to code. Start documenting your experience and your thought process. It's a great jumping off point to opening your pitch to your employer.

Practice, practice, practice! Self-learning and online resources are a great way to get your feet wet with coding. They're also a good way to show your company you're serious about learning a new skill. Practice your pitch! Find a friend, family member, or colleague to share your pitch and get feedback and practice your Q&A.

Remember, your path to coding is unique. Everyone encounters forks in the road and obstacles on their way. For additional questions about the application process or for any assistance in your journey, join one of our upcoming info sessions or events to chat with our teams and learn more.

Interested in learning to code? Check out our upcoming Prep Course and our 12-week full-time or 24-week part-time Software Engineering Programs


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