notes on learning, design, tools, & life

How New York can fight student debt

I had the pleasure of meeting Jukay and his team at Pursuit in 2017 before I left New York, and I was very impressed with the work they were doing to lower access barriers for professional tech education. Here Jukay discusses some of how they make that work:

One shining solution is called outcomes-based financing, a model where workforce development programs tie payment to a trainee’s employment trajectory, rather than charging fees up-front like colleges and universities.  

Here’s how it works: thanks to funding from social impact investors through “job bonds,” participants don’t incur any cost during their training – not a single dime up-front. Then, after a graduate secures a high-paying job, they pay a percentage of their earnings for a set amount of time to help repay the bond’s debt service. If someone doesn’t immediately get a job or if their salary is below a certain level, they pay nothing. If they stop working for any reason, their payments pause, too.

There are a lot of people who talk big about “the future of education.” I’m not sure whether the ideas Jukay presents here would make sense outside of the space he’s been working in, but I do think it’s worth paying more attention to folks like him who have been doing the legwork to figure things out.

At some point, I personally hope the community college systems in the U.S. will catch up in terms of serving these needs outside of private foundations and companies.