Coursera Ends Free Certificates And Releases Financial Aid Option

4 minutes read

Coursera is one of the best Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) providers in the world. It provides over 1000 free courses from top universities and organizations around the world.

Coursera also offers students the option to gain Certificates of Accomplishment after completing and passing a course.

Note: Coursera has updated its financial aid application platform. So I wrote an article on how to apply for financial aid on its new platform.

The End Of Free Coursera Certificates

Earlier this year, Coursera implemented a policy to roll-off its free Statements of Accomplishment.

Coursera’s Statements of Accomplishment was a free certificate that shows a student has completed and passed a Course on Coursera via the Honor Code.

Verified Certificates

Verified Certificates on Coursera are now referred to as Course Certificates. Students who want to achieve Course Certificates after completing and passing a course have to pay for it.

The cost of a course certificate varies depending on the course.

verified certificate vs course certificate on Coursera image

Note: For those who can’t afford to pay for Course Certificates, there’s an option for financial aid.

Dissenting Opinions

Some learners on Coursera don’t welcome paying for Course Certificates. Here’re what some of them think:

While I think the option to pay later is great, I do not like that there won’t be any more free Statements of Accomplishment.

I liked getting SoAs (Statements of Accomplishment) for courses which I took just for my own pleasure – and not for showing anybody, just as a motivation for that Course.
I just hope that you do not go the way down that Udacity took, beginning with their new “Course experience”, coming from “Free education for everyone” and now being at “Pay 200$ a month!. Oh, if you really do not want our fantastic course but only the rough content then you could also watch it for free.”. Please keep your focus on free education and take the VC only as an added option.—Max Friedrich

I suppose those who want a certificate on record will move to a not-for-profit MOOC model, like edX that (till today, at least) offers “honor code certificates”, their equivalent of Coursera’s SoA (Statement of Accomplishment). For the non-overlapping courses on Coursera, only those who want to pay for or those who are really interested will go in for. — Reshma Bhatnagar

This sounds like now, unless I decide to pay for a “verified certificate”, there won’t be an indication of “how” I’ve completed a course? My “Course Records” page will essentially just show a list of courses I’ve signed up for?
Almost all the MOOC courses I’ve ever taken, I take for my own pleasure and knowledge, and not to “showcase” to anyone else. I understand some (many?) do, and that’s cool, it’s just not me. Doing the evaluated/graded “work” like quizzes and papers and projects and such are often a nice way to keep an eye on my progress as I go, make me pay a bit more attention if my focus wanders some, and it was nice to get a little SoA (Statement of Accomplishment) at the end – just a little thing I could see on my history page as a nice little achievement.

Without that little touch at the end… I admit, it kind of sucks some of the sense of accomplishment out of going through a class. I don’t know how much doing a lot of that type of coursework will interest me now – it’ll be much more of a class by class decision I guess, and I’d wager I’ll do it a lot less going forward.

Really too bad, can’t say I’m a fan of this direction. — Atnor.

It is a real pity for the (many?) of us that use Statements of Accomplishment as motivational tools. Since I discovered MOOCs around two years ago I have finished more than 20 courses between Coursera and edX, despite having a full time job and three small children.

Printing out the statement, laminating it and storing it in a folder, as absurd as it may seem, turns out to be a great motivational aid. I will sorely miss it, and I don’t think I’ll be the only one. — Pablo

Positive Opinions

Despite the criticism Coursera has received for this move, there are learners on Coursera who support it. Here’s one:

I don’t see the problem.

Udacity still provides free education and never strayed from that. The only change is that you pay a premium for the verification and the services that go with it. The free version of the course still lets you access lectures, assignments, and the discussion board. The same situation applies to Coursera.

I think getting rid of Statements of Accomplishment (SOA) is a good thing. When MOOC credentials are still growing and you have verified certificates, you don’t want people confusing the VC’s with SOA’s which are essentially mementos of a course and not a means to prove that you did your own work. While non-VC students won’t end a course with an SOA, they at least gain new skills and knowledge. Also, some courses provide more “hard” credentials than others. Some of the courses require the students to submit projects which can be placed in a portfolio that will have greater value than any SOA or VC.

— Richard Shipe

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Giovanni O.C Olakunori

Giovanni Chinecherem Olakunle Olakunori(commonly known as Giovanni Olakunori) is an aspiring data scientist at heart, business developer and educator with a deep interest in ancient philosophy, healthy living, and developing economies. He’s the founder of LarnEdu, a community that inspires and supports lifelong learning especially in underdeveloped nations. He currently lives in the UK after living in 4 other countries across Europe and Africa. You can read more about him or follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to see his public posts about how much he loves hot Kenkey and Jolof rice.

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