San Diego offering courses with no upfront costs, as a student loan alternative

San Diego is beginning a program that aims to help applicants get an education, without the upfront burden of expensive higher education costs.

The San Diego Workforce Partnership is teaming up with the University of California San Diego Extension school to launch a Workforce Income Share Agreement – which will offer courses and training to applicants at no upfront cost, but instead will require people to pay back those costs once they land a job.

If a member completes her certification program and gets a job with a salary of at least $40,000, she will be required to pay back between 6 percent and 8 percent (depending on the course) of her salary for a set period of time. Those required payments are to be made within a certain time window, typically including between 36 and 60 monthly payments.

Required payments can vary based on whether you receive a higher- or lower-paying job than expected, but the payments are capped at 1.8 times the total cost of the program – $11,700.

People who earn less than $40,000 would not be required to make any payments.

The courses are offered in digital marketing, business intelligence and web development.

The goal is to give workers the skills local businesses are looking for, without burdening applicants with the upfront costs. The program will also try to help applicants land a job upon completion.

The idea of income share agreements are beginning to gain popularity, as the student debt crisis worsens.


Outstanding student loan debt has doubled over the past decade to more than $1.5 trillion in 2018 and is now second only to the amount of mortgage debt held by Americans.

A number of lawmakers are also looking to tackle the student debt problem. Sen. Elizabeth Warren – a 2020 Democratic candidate – recently unveiled a proposal to “cancel” student loan debt for a majority of the U.S. population that owes. The Trump administration is also looking for ways to alleviate people’s financial strain resulting from mounting higher education expenses.