Tuesday 26 March 2024

I saved more than 2000 USD for Coursera's MOOC courses.

tl;dr: I saved approximately 2500 USD (more than 60 mil. VND) in Coursera's MOOC by applying for Coursera Financial Aids.

Summary of my financial aid. Exchange rate on Feb 18, 2024


I first heard about Coursera Financial Aids in my sophomore year - the summer of 2020, when one of my friends started taking the From Nand to Tetris course (by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem). After that course, he took 2 more courses by applying for financial aid from Coursera. At that time it seemed that he made up for fun, and I don't think a company from the United States (the-capitalism-kingdom) would grant free courses for students in third-world countries, due to (you know) monopoly and capitalism?

Fast forward two years. I'm now a junior and doing my thesis with a topic related to Machine Learning, Deep Learning and Natural Language Processing. Related that, I've taken some courses related to these topics, and the common thing between them (besides Linear Algebra, Statistics and a lot of magic) is professors always insist we go on Coursera and some online MOOC platforms to learn additional courses related to these topics.

I started to apply for Coursera Financial Aids after my first trial course Natural Language Processing with Probabilistic Models. It's more than 2 years after my first application, now here are some statistics (by year):

I applied for 46 courses, and all were granted a 100% fee. Total money saved: approximately 2500 USD (over 60 million VND). That's a huge number to think of. Here are some charts to show the total financial aid I received for the last two years:

And total courses that I took (for free) in the last two years:

In 2022 I only applied for 16 courses, while the totals are 28 for 2023. Since I was jobless for most of 2023, I feel urged to enhance my skills in Computer Science, and it's fortunate to be granted financial aid in my worst days.

How to?

Back in the day, gaining Coursera's financial aid was easy. You just need to ensure

  1. You are a student with a very low income (or don't have income - don't do this because it's pretty hard to believe a student with no income these days).
  2. You can pay a lower amount than the course's price. 
  3. Your description for the 2 above conditions must be reliable enough (more than 150 words, must ensure some conditions).

Submit the application, and that's how I gained financial aid from Coursera in the last 2 years. I made a tool to automatically generate financial aid applications based on my templates, you can access it here: https://trhgquan.github.io/coursera-financial-aids-application-gen

However, some Reddit posts (here, here and here, there are more) report that they are not eligible for 100% financial funds, but 90% or lower, citing that Coursera has changed their policy due to massive abuse of financial aid. Although this is the first time I've faced this issue (and hope I won't have to), this might be true and you might not receive full aid like before.

Final words

It's thrilling to know that I've saved over 2000 USD with a policy, and it's also sad that Coursera might be discontinuing that policy. Hence, I've enrolled and enhanced my knowledge a lot in the last 2 years.

To all students, just keep learning!

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