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Coursera Introduces Free Trial for Specializations, Financial Aid Applications Now Take at Least 15 Days

Coursera continues its aggressive and constant tweaks to its monetization model

Late last year Cousera made a switch to a subscription model for certain Specializations. The videos are usually free on Coursera but learners need to pay to earn certificates or access the graded assignments. Previously you could pay for individual courses separately or in bulk (for the Specialization) to get 12-month access.

But now users pay a monthly fee ranging between $39–89 to have access to graded assignments and to earn certificates. These features are enabled as long as learners are paying the subscription free. They can also pay a larger amount to get access to all the premium features for the entire Specialization for 12 months. But you can’t purchase 12-month access to graded assignments and certificates for individual courses anymore.

If you are not interested in paying, you have to click on the tiny “audit” link (as seen in the screenshot above) to access the course videos for free.

Now Coursera’s introduced another tweak to the model: a seven-day free trial for Specialization subscriptions. You can get access to premium features for free for a week, but you still need a credit card to start your free trial.

More details about Coursera’s free trial can be found on their help site.

Financial Aid Changes

Financial aid application prompt.

For a long time, Coursera was pretty liberal with its financial aid and was also quick to approve aid applications. I personally applied for financial aid a while back and was approved instantaneously. In October 2015, Coursera announced that it had approved 1,000,000 financial aid applications.

But now Coursera seems to be making it harder to receive financial aid by making the application process longer and more involved.

Here is a comment left by one of Class Central’s users on a Coursera article:

Now they want what looks like an essay — 300 words — of why you cannot pay, and there are a few boxes to tick on whether you would take out a loan (to do a course which has no transferable credit!) and if you say ‘no’ to a loan, they want an explanation from you. Then it will take 15 days to approve or decline an application.

To learn more about Coursera’s financial aid and how to apply for it, read Coursera’s help page.


Dhawal Shah Profile Image

Dhawal Shah

Dhawal is the CEO of Class Central, the most popular search engine and review site for online courses and MOOCs. He has completed over a dozen MOOCs and has written over 200 articles about the MOOC space, including contributions to TechCrunch, EdSurge, Quartz, and VentureBeat.

Comments 3

  1. Roberto Arreaza

    It is very disappointing to take a free trial for a week to validate if the course fills your expectations., but it seemed like an ambush that offers a free trial for a week and then they charge you the registration without asking you if you agree to continue or not after the free trial.
    This sounds dishonest to me. It seems like a way to get money.
    I understand that in English FREE TRIAL is something without payment. It is very annoying that Coursera charge for a course that youare not interested in taking it.
    The answer from COURSERA is that they can not give me your money back.
    That is unacceptable. For me. FREE TRIAL is FREE …

  2. Preeti Khare

    I enrolled for free trial for a week and did not find the material enriching in the” coaching practices course”. The free trial ended and I was stuck in an emergency unforeseen situation. Pls refund my payment.

  3. Sanjit kumar

    My financial is not good so enrolled your course of machine learning i will wait for your response thank u


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