Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education Issues Emergency Decision Against Holberton School


By Mikaila C. Hernández

On January 24, 2020, the Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) issued an Emergency Decision ordering Holberton School, Inc. to (1) cease enrollment of new students in all of the institute’s programs; (2) cease all instruction for all of the institute’s programs; and (3) cease collection of tuition and fees for all of the institute’s programs, effective February 4, 2020.

After a January 30, 2020 hearing before the Director of the Department of Consumer Affairs, BPPE filed an accusation against Holberton, revealing several violations of the California Education Code, including section 94886 for operating without an Approval to Operate from BPPE, and section 94897(j) for—Prohibited Business Practices.

According to the accusation on July 11, 2018, Holberton School obtained an Approval to Operate by the Bureau to offer a two-year, 4331-hour Full Stack Software Engineer program, but had been enrolling students into this program before that approval. The Bureau also accuses Holberton of fraudulently obtaining its Approval to Operate when it agreed not to offer income-share agreements (ISAs) to students as a condition of its Approval to Operate, but in fact, offered ISAs to students both before and after the approval. ISAs allow students to forgo paying their tuition at the beginning of their education in exchange for paying the institution 17 percent of their annual income in excess of $40,000 for three and one-half years after graduating.

Additionally, the Bureau asserts that Holberton charges $85,000 tuition for a two-year education and training program, yet students are encouraged to leave after receiving only nine-months of education to pursue employment. According to the accusation, Holberton asks for an employer letter to verify the student had completed six months of employment and are in good standing, upon which the school would issue graduation certificates to those students for fifteen months of education and required the student to pay the full cost of tuition despite receiving only nine months of education and training. BPPE claims that many alumni of Holberton School are being financially harmed by being forced to pay 17% of their pre-tax income for 42 months for an education they did not receive as a result of entering into prohibited ISA agreements with the institution.[1]

The Emergency Decision will be in effect until the accusation has been fully adjudicated.

[1] “Priyanka Chopra’s Favorite Coding Bootcamp Accused of ‘Fraud’”, Jan 28, 2020, https://www.thedailybeast.com/priyanka-chopras-favorite-coding-bootcamp-holberton-accused-of-fraud?ref=scroll


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