As you probably must have heard that knowledge has been democratized especially in this age of MOOCs, which means you can acquire any level of knowledge or education you desire, and you can do this without even spending a dime other than a few token for internet subscription. There are various platforms that offer these great learning opportunities. However, taking courses on these platform often come at exorbitant prices which will be difficult for an average Nigerian to afford. Imagine having to pay $1,017 dollars for a Nanodegree on Udacity or $200 for a course on Edx.
But the good news is that many of these platforms offer scholarships, aids, or discounts that allow anyone to learn for free or at low prices. For instance, Udacity is known to offer a variety of scholarships to students all around the world via partnerships with companies such as Bertelsmann, Amazon, Intel, Google, and so on. Edx also offers up to 90% financial aid that enables you to learn, take part in all quizzes and exams, and also get certificate for the course. In the same vein, Coursera offers up to 100% financial aid which means you can take numerous courses on Coursera without paying a dime. As you can see, you can fill your brain with worthy knowledge that can get you high-paying jobs, improve your skills, get you promotions at work, or offer you a new career path totally.
Why you should apply for financial aid
You can actually audit a course on Coursera—for free. You will still gain the knowledge you need, only that you may not get to participate in quizzes and exams and you also won’t get certificate for the course. But mind you, the knowledge you acquire which is your primary goal is more important than amassing certificates.
These are some of the reasons you may want to apply for financial aid:
- Motivation: Knowing that you will get a certificate for the course will actually push you to want to finish the course. Studies have shown that less than 50% of students who enroll in MOOCs get to finish the course. So motivation is needed to spike up your level of discipline.
- Assessing your knowledge and skills: Without the financial aid, not only that you cannot get certificate for the course, you may not be allowed to take part in quizzes, assignments, projects, discussions, and so on. So getting a financial aid will allow you to test your knowledge, assess the skills which you have acquired during each module in the course. What better way to learn and assess your level of understanding of the course.
- Portfolio: Apart from being a thing of pride that you have completed some courses online and acquire certifications, especially some rigorous specializations on Coursera, it is even more interesting when you have certificates you can include in your resume, attach to your LinkedIn profile, and so on. Acquiring certificates for online courses may provide a good way to show that you have taken a course, and all that is needed is to prove your mettle via projects done.
Now, how can you get financial aid for courses on Coursera?
Step 1: Search for your desired course. Visit Coursera website and sign up (if you haven’t used the platform before). Use the blue button on the extreme right to sign up. Having signed up, you will still be seeing the same page. Beside the explore button, you will see a search page “What do you want to learn?”
Type in the course you want to learn. If you don’t have a specific course in mind, but let’s say you want to learn about project management, type in project management (See figure 1 below). You will see varieties of courses on project management, the school teaching the course, names of the tutors, as well as reviews. You may do well to read the reviews first to know if it is befitting for you.
In this article, we use Machine Learning as an example. In the figure 2 below, you will see a series of Machine Learning course, so I decided to choose the Stanford Andrew Ng course.
Step 2: Choosing a Course: Having clicked on the course, you will see a page where you can enroll for the course. You can actually enroll for free (that is, you audit the course without doing assignments or getting certificates). Since you probably want financial aid, beside the “Enroll for Free” button, you will see a link showing “financial aid available”. Click on that. Then you will see a pop-up page as shown in figure 4 below. Click continue to the application
Step 3: Fill the Financial Aid form.
As an applicant, you will have to agree to the terms that you will only share accurate information while applying for the application and that you will commit to finishing the courses which you are getting financial aid for. Then in the space below, you will type in “I agree to the terms above” just as exactly as it appears in the page. The click continue.
Step 4: Fill in the Blank Pages
You are required to fill in your educational background, your annual income (in dollars), employment status, and how much you can afford to pay.
Step 5: Write your Story: This is the hallmark of your scholarship. You will need to tell your story if you want to get the financial aid. There are two most important questions here: (i) Why are you applying for financial aid? (ii) How will taking this course help you achieve your goal?
Each of this requires a minimum of 150 words. You may want to take a step back a little and examine your reasons for taking the course you want to take and how it will help you achieve your goal. For instance, you may want to start a new career, you may want to upgrade your skills and get promoted at work, and so on. Coursera scrutinizes your application and the scholarship will go to someone who provides the best essay.
If you are looking for good samples, drop your email in the SUBSCRIBER SPACE below. It will be in your mail shortly.
Step 6: Wait for Approval: It takes 15 days to get a reply from Coursera. During that period, you may continue with the course. You can begin the course in audit or free mode. However, do NOT start a free trial because once you start a free trial, your financial aid will be revoked immediately. More so, if you eventually get the aid, you have up to 180 days to complete the course before your financial aid expires.
It will also be of interest to you to know that you can take a specialization. For instance, let’s say you want to learn to become a Business Analyst, and you have decided to do that on Coursera. Below is an example: the specialization contains 5 courses, from Business Metrics for Data-Driven Companies to Increasing Real Estates Management profit. This course is taught by Duke University. Now, in this case, you can actually apply for financial aid for all the courses at the same time, but it is better to apply as you progress along in the specialization because your financial aid expires in six months, and the duration of the entire specialization is six months. If you tarry during any of the course, you may not get to the last course before your aid is revoked. You see, by taking this specialization, you can become a business analyst and work in almost any industry.
NOTE: if you are new to Coursera, you will be required to upload certain documents such as a valid national issued ID card and a passport before you can proceed to your financial aid application.