Home > Students > I Learned to Code to Pay Back $70K of Student Loans

Comments 0 Comments

Armando Amador’s story started out much like many other college graduates: He had student debt he knew he had to repay but his job prospects were uncertain. Then his situation took an abrupt turn, and now he makes more than $70,000 a year and hopes to finish repaying his student loans in about three years.

Amador, 28, earned a degree in information systems engineering in 2010, but job prospects weren’t great. He considered graduate school, but he already had student debt “in the high 70s,” and he couldn’t see adding to that. He mainly looked for jobs he hoped would match his skill set, and he ended up finding work as a designer for an online magazine, earning in the low $30,000s. It was enough to keep the rent paid and his student loans current, he said. He’d always been a good saver, and that helped keep him out of trouble when the budget was tight.

Ironically, a layoff in April 2013 was the catalyst for his shifting fortunes. Amador knew from his editorial design job that he wished he could go a level deeper and learn to develop software. So after his layoff, he began to look at free or low-cost options for retraining. Because he lived in the Bronx and met several other criteria, he was eligible to apply for a Web development fellowship. New York City had partnered with the Flatiron School, a relatively new school that offered quick training with the goal of preparing students for high-income jobs in software development.

And while salary is hardly the way to choose a career, it’s worth considering. “Now I have leeway to pay extra on my student loans,” Amador says. “And I don’t have to sacrifice going out with friends or buying gifts because of payments on my student loans.”

Adam Enbar, co-founder of the school, said Amador’s story is not unusual. The school was founded in 2012 to train people for jobs in software and Web development. Its graduates who go to work full time after the program earn an average of about $74,000, and the statistics are on the school’s website. It is still small (so far about 350 people have gone through), and the boot-camp-style program is designed to teach people who have never written a line of code enough to be hired as programmers in just a few very intensive weeks.

While Amador talks about it being a perfect fit, acceptance is far from easy. Enbar said that about 6% of applicants are accepted. The school has campuses in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and only the Brooklyn one offers the fellowships (though they’re open to any NYC resident). Normally, the high-intensity training costs $15,000. Amador said the training took him five months and that landing a new job took about three weeks. He’s currently a full stack developer at Wizard Development.

The school releases detailed data on outcomes, something Enbar wishes were standard in higher education. (Can you imagine a student loan application that included information on the projected employment rate, salary and loan default rate for a student’s chosen major? Enbar can, and he hopes it is standard someday.) Enbar said students come from all walks of life — he’s had Ph.D.s and those who have never been to college, though the majority have degrees. “For a lot of them, people just told them to study what they were interested in,” Enbar said, and college hadn’t necessarily prepared them for employment.

As for Amador, he is enjoying his job and the freedom that comes with not having to stretch every dollar so far that there is little left for fun, though he’s eager to put his student loans behind him. And during the “job search,” he was amazed at what happened when he updated his LinkedIn profile to identify himself as a software developer. “When you’re unemployed, no one replies,” he said, “but when you’re a developer, it’s almost like they are harassing you with job offers.” And so, finally, he was the person doing the choosing.

If you’re having trouble paying your student loans, boosting your income is certainly the ideal route to go. However, if that’s not possible, it’s important to contact your student loan servicer to set up a payment arrangement that works for you and allows you to keep up with your payments. Falling behind on your student loan payments can seriously hurt your credit, and affect your ability to get credit down the road — or at least increase the cost of your debt over time. Checking your credit regularly can show you where you stand, and you can see a credit report summary and two credit scores for free on Credit.com.

More on Student Loans:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team