Here’s How You Can Apply for Financial Aid on Coursera

Founded by a couple of Stanford professors, Coursera is an online hub for courses taught by top instructors from the world’s best universities and educational institutions.

While some of these courses are available for free, most of the courses on Coursera require you to pay fees if you want to earn a certification or to access the complete material and assignments.

The fees can be anywhere from $29 to $99 for a normal course, $39 to $79 for a Specialization and $15 to $25,000 for a complete online degree.

Fortunately, Coursera does have a Financial Aid program for needy students for most courses. If you are deemed worthy of the program, Coursera can waive off a portion of a particular course’s fee, or even completely remove it, even if the course costs under a hundred dollars. A hundred dollars might not seem like much but living in a country where the monthly salary of an average Pakistani is just under $130, it can make a huge difference!

How to apply for Financial Aid for a course?

You will first need to Sign-up for Coursera and verify your profile by providing a valid identification.

  1. Head over to Coursera and Sign Up.
  2. Log in to your Coursera account.
  3. Click Accomplishments on the left side of the page.
  4. Click Complete your profile at the top of the page.
  5. Follow the steps on screen to set up ID Verification. You can use your National Identity Card (NIC), Passport, Driving License, etc.
  6. Add a photo of yourself to verify that your identity is valid.

Once you’re done with it, it will take a few days to verify your ID. Meanwhile, you can start applying for financial aid. Note that Financial Aid on Coursera is offered on a per-course basis, so you will need to apply individually for every course you want.

  1. Just head over to the course you want to apply for.
  2. Click on the “Learn more and apply” link below the blue Enroll button on the left.
  3. Fill out and submit your Financial Aid application (tips given below).

Once you’re done, it will take a few days to review your application. In some cases, it can take a couple of weeks for the application to be reviewed.

How to fill out a Financial Aid Application

Apart from some basic information, the Financial Aid application consists of two main questions:

  • Why are you applying for Financial Aid?

You are required to give Coursera a good reason to provide you with Financial Aid. There are no specific requirements, except that your answer should be more than 150 words.

You can share a few details about your background along with why you won’t be available to afford the course.

  • How will taking this course help you achieve your career goals?

Describe how, this particular course, will help you in your life. You can share some details about the ways you plan to use the knowledge and skills that you’ll learn in the course.

Moreover, you are also required to share some of your career goals and indicate exactly how the course will help you.

Here are some tips:

  • Describe your financial circumstances.
  • Explain how paying the cost of the Course Certificate would cause economic hardship.
  • Explain your motivations for taking the course.
  • Show that you will abide by the Honor Code and our Code of Conduct.
  • Explain how you plan to contribute to the Coursera community.

I don’t think people a few centuries, or even a few decades ago, could have ever imagined how connected the world will be in the future. They probably wouldn’t have ever realized how the knowledge they so relentlessly strive to gain, could be available to almost anyone around the world at the click of a button, as long as they have an internet connection.

With Coursera, you can learn anything while sitting thousands of miles away from the teacher and with financial support, it’s no longer beyond a commoner’s reach.

Thanks to Mary Gonzalez, and Maaz Hasan for some of the tips included in this article.

Image Credits — Zirra


  • its a good article. but i can’t lie to get free course. and if i will start benefiting from that course outcome then all it will be based on a lie. by the way good opportunity for students having no income at all

    • This article was directed to the people who actually need Financial Aid and nowhere did I ask people to lie for financial aid. :)
      That’s why I wrote “You can share a few details about your background along with why YOU won’t be available to afford the course.” Hope that clears it up.

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