What is Microsoft Azure for Students: FAQS, How to Sign-Up and More

a STEM university student accessing the Azure for Students program on his laptop
What is Microsoft Azure for Students: FAQS, How to Sign-Up and More

What is Microsoft Azure For Students: FAQs, How To Sign Up And More

Cloud computing has taken the digital world by storm, and it comes as no surprise that Microsoft is one of its top stakeholders with more than 40% of the market share. As per a recent survey, since its launch Microsoft Azure has been the cloud computing service of choice for over 90% of MNCs, falling a close second to Google and Amazon Web Services.

Because of their special monitoring, storage, computing, and networking services and solutions, Azure certified professionals are increasingly sought after in the cloud computing industry. Their demand is expected to increase in the coming years.

Capitalizing on this growing interest in big data career paths, Microsoft introduced its Azure for Students Starter pack in 2016 and the Azure for Students in 2018 as part of its Azure Dev Tools for Teaching. Previously known as Microsoft Imagine, the rebranded Azure Dev Tools program offers a subscription-based service of its tools to schools and universities in over 140 countriesAzure tools are commonly used by STEM faculty to teach their students developmental, computational and analytical work in many renowned universities internationally.

At the time of its launch in 2008, it was estimated that around 35 million students worldwide would be able to access the Azure Dev Tools‘ teaching titles through their educational institutions. However, this number has grown exponentially since the inception of the independent Azure for Students programs.

With the Azure for Students programs, any student can independently sign up for Azure’s services for free and benefit from its resources without requiring a credit card for registration. This liberating aspect of the student-centric programs has made Azure a popular choice amongst data and AI enthusiasts and learners in economically unviable regions locally and globally.

Program Prerequisites 

To sign-up, users are required to have a phone number, college/university student email address or a Shibboleth Single Sign-On as well as, a Microsoft email account.

Azure for Students Starter Pack (13 years +)

a high school student learning the basics of data analytics through the Azure for Students Starter Pack for secondary and high school students
Image of a high school student learning the basics of data analytics through the Azure for Students Starter Pack for secondary and high school students

Eligibility Criteria & Limitations

Azure for Students Starter Pack is a timeless plan available for secondary, high school and university students.

Registering users must be verifiable students of 13 years or older if from the United States, and 16 years or above if from outside of the country. Subscriptions offered are non-transferable and applicable on one per-student basis.


The Azure for Students Starter pack offers an exploratory learning environment without any commitment and time limits. It allows free access to a limited set of products, including web and app development scenarios that allow users to develop in the cloud. Services offered include:

  • Azure App Services. Build and deploy apps using your preferred platform- Java, PHP, Node.js, Python, ASP.NET. Set up integration and deployment workflows or add various essential application services and simultaneously build, test and deploy your app on code check-ins and integration tests.
  • Azure Functions. Write functions and run code using the programming language of your choice.
  • Notification Hubs. Engage with your app users by sending demographically tailored push notifications using any major platform.
  • MySQL database from MySQL in-app. Deploy your chosen or custom cloud management solutions driven by MySQL database and get native MySQL support for your web apps.
  • Application Insights. Gives you analytics and performance statistics to ensure your web apps and services work at their highest potential. Scrutinize and evaluate your data to constantly better your application, target future investments, and improve all-around customer experience.
  • Azure DevOps. Collaborate smartly and smoothly on your software projects using Azure DevOps cloud-powered tools that work effectively with any IDE or editor regardless of size.

Subscription to the pack is renewable as long your academic status has been verified within the past 12 months.

 Azure for Students (18 years +)

an Azure for students user who is a university student
Image of an Azure for students user who is a university student 

Eligibility Criteria & Limitations

The Azure for Students program is a 12-month plan for verifiable full-time university students aged 18 years or older, attending an accredited, degree-granting, two-year or four-year program in a STEM-related field.

Like the Azure Student Starter Pack, this program requires no credit card for registration, and its subscriptions are non-transferable and are offered per person.


The Azure for Students plan offers a full and free 12-month access to 25 of Azure’s services, plus $100 in credit. Despite the time constraint, the Azure for Students plan offers an amped-up version of the tools offered in the Starter pack as well as a plethora of reserved services including, but not limited to:

  • 250 GB Storage to create an Azure SQL Database 
  • 750 hours of Azure B1S Linux Virtual Machines
  • Ten webs, mobile and API apps including Node.js and PHP
  • 30,000 transactions per month of AI + machine learning
  • 2,000,000 characters for real-time AI speech translation 
  • Free container service, service fabric, security assessments, load-balanced IP
  • Unlimited management tools and analytics

Apart from the above, users can browse Azure’s education hub, look into its open-source library of labs, and make use of the Azure Marketplace for free trails and tier plans.

After you exhaust your credit limit or reach the end of 12 months (whichever happens first), your plan is disabled. However, you can always renew your Azure for Student offer if you can verify your academic status as an active student.

Setting Up Your Azure For Students or Azure For Students Starter Pack Account

  1. You will need a Microsoft Outlook or Hotmail email address and an academic email account to register with the program.
  2. If you don’t have a Microsoft account, create one first at https://signup.live.com/
  3. After you’ve created your email address,  go to:  https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/free/students/ if you want to join the Azure for Students plan.
  4. If you want to join the Azure for Students Starter Pack, go to: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/offers/ms-azr-0144p/
  5. Click the Activate Now button.
the Microsoft Azure for Students registration website page
Image of the Microsoft Azure for Students registration website page
  1. You will then be required to sign in with your Microsoft Outlook or Hotmail email address.
  2. Verify your identity by phone, and through your school/college/university email address. 
  3. If your academic institution is a part of the Microsoft database then you will be sent a verification link on your academic email id.
the Microsoft Azure for Students Starter Pack registration website page
Image of the Microsoft Azure for Students Starter Pack registration website page
  1. Check your school email inbox and click on the link to complete the verification process.
  2. If your campus isn’t a part of the Microsoft database, you will be required to upload a picture of your student ID card as verification.
  3. Once your verification status has been confirmed you will be redirected to the Microsoft Azure page to complete your registration.
  4. Under the About You section, provide your details and your academic email id in the required email text box.
  5. After accepting the subscription agreement and privacy statement your registration will be complete.
  6. You will finally be directed to the Azure Welcome page, where you can choose your learning paths or start building projects.
  7. It is also a good idea to visit the Education Hub where you can download free software and tools to help you with your projects.
  8. Henceforth, you can log in directly to the Microsoft Azure portal at https://portal.azure.com/ using your Microsoft account.
the Microsoft Azure Portal page to access the Azure for Students Program
Image of the Microsoft Azure Portal page to access the Azure for Students Program  

Subscription Renewal

Both Azure’s student-based programs are an effective way of learning programming and the AI world’s ropes. As long as you can verify your active academic status, you can renew your subscription to either of the programs per your eligibility and at no cost to you.

For the Azure for Students plan, a reminder email of subscription renewal is sent to you shortly before the end of your 12 month period. Users can choose to renew or cancel their registrations at any time during the programs.

Albeit, it is worth remembering that with the Azure for Students plan, any of your deployed projects at the end of the 12-year term or after you’ve maxed out your credit limit are decommissioned and cannot be accessed unless you upgrade your subscription within the next 90 days.

Although the Azure for Students Starter pack doesn’t have similar time constraints, as per Microsoft’s policy, if an account is inactive for more than 90 days, Microsoft reserves the right to remove any computing resources and create projects, virtual machines, and websites. To avoid losing your projects, you need to log in to your Azure portal at least once every 90 days or access your resources via Azure APIs.

Credit Usage 

You don’t need to pay anything to use the Azure for Students programs. Any charges that you incur are deducted against the free credits ($100 for the Azure for Student plan) and service limits included in the plans. If you exceed your free service quantities before the end of your plan, your subscription will be disabled until you can renew your program again. Similarly, any leftover credit from the $100 included in the Azure for Students plan at the end of the 12 months can’t be added to a renewed subscription.

Even though free credits ‘pay’ for your Azure access to specified products and services, you can’t apply them to the Azure Marketplace. But the Marketplace partners do offer free trials and tiered plans as part of student solutions.

If you want to remove the spending limit on your student plans, you must upgrade your account to a Pay-As-You-Go subscription, for which you will need to contact Azure Support and provide them with a valid credit card.

Azure Free Account 

If you aren’t eligible for the Azure for students plan then you can sign up for the Microsoft Azure free account
Image of the Microsoft Azure free account registration page  

If you are no longer eligible for the Azure for Students plans, you can always consider signing up for an Azure Free Account. The Azure Free Account is available for everyone and requires a valid credit card and a Microsoft account to sign up.

It is a 12-month plan of free and full access to the most popular Azure services, with $200 credit to spend in the first 30 days. After you’ve exhausted your credit or at the end of 30 days, you will be required to upgrade to a pay-as-you-go subscription if you want to continue access to your free products. These free services are some of the best that the platform offers, including 12 of Azure’s AI tools. Create smart apps for free with Azure Cognitive Services and API call, and make the most of your 12 monthly plan to understand and explore groundbreaking AI research at no additional cost, except as per your credit usage.

After your 12 months are over, you’ll be billed as per the standard pay-as-you-go rates and will be able to access all of Azure’s products; however, 25+ of Azure’s essential tools will continue to be free for you.

Azure Free Account is ideal for students who want to transition from the Azure for Students programs onto the platform’s professional aspect. It allows users to build AI-powered cross-platform projects and update applications through serverless containers and deploy machines in both hybrid and cloud environments. Applications are not just easily upgradable but also easily scalable according to demand, with quick software updates through DevOps tools.  

Microsoft Azure Campus Agreements

Through Microsoft’s Campus Agreements, Azure Dev Tools for Teaching and Azure for Students are recognized and offered at most academic institutions under their IT support resources for professional development and technical education for STEM fields.

Universities like Carnegie Mellon have also started offering Cloud Developer courses based on cloud software engineering principles taught through Microsoft tools like Learn and Azure for hands-on user experience.

Azure for Students is not only a part of the American Big Ten and Ivy League university resources. Still, it is also used in all prominent universities globally, including the Golden Triangle and Oxbridge universities of the UK and the German Universities of Excellence. 

Careers with Microsoft Azure

According to IDC, almost 40% of all IT jobs will be cloud-based by 2021. Server-less computing is the way to go, and Microsoft Azure pulls all the spots with its mind-bending range of applications and services.

In 2019, Azure had data centers in 140 countries and served more regions internationally than any other cloud-based provider. With operations expanding well into the Middle East and North Africa regions and Switzerland and with its relentless infrastructural improvements, Microsoft Azure is the cloud service provider of choice for most Fortune 500 companies. 

With more companies choosing Azure, the demand for certified cloud service professionals is increasing in tandem. Currently, cloud professionals’ market requirement far outweighs supply, and there aren’t enough candidates to fill the numerous roles on offer. Therefore, the skilled ones of the lot are finding themselves in a very comfortable situation as companies drive up the wage rate to land the best talent on board.

Although there is no such thing as a permanent job in today’s rapidly changing world, especially in the constantly evolving world of tech, a career in the cloud is a rewarding and lucrative way forward.

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Why Azure for Students

Azure for students gives full-time students a heads up into their career even before they’re done with their degree or completed their education. The services on offer through the Azure for Students programs are the same resources used by professional Azure developers, solution architects, DevOps engineers, administrators, AI engineers, and data scientists. These professional roles are rooted in a basic understanding of cloud engineering principles, SQL databases, back up and disaster recovery, virtualization, app deployment, technical infrastructure designing, programming, AI cognition services, development, and coding solutions, and sales consultancy.

The Azure for students plans acquaint students with all of these principles on a smaller, controlled platform allowing them to fully explore their creative potential through infinite learning resources and social challenges.

The programs’ objective has always been to provide technical STEM education and learning titles at little to no cost to students worldwide, disregarding campus affiliation and cumbersome registration requirements in areas where these were seen as hurdles to learning. The most favorable response that Microsoft Azure for students has received has been from demographics where bars to learning were often tied to complicated and technical prerequisites, but where talent and quick yielding educational skills were prized.

In such regions, users with early familiarity with Azure student tools have chosen to complete role-based Microsoft Azure Associate certificate titles. They have managed to bag well-paying job positions for themselves. These areas have also demonstrated the most innovation in cloud-based computing solutions and architecture. They have provided much of the new wave of IT talent that the world is employing.

Considering its ease of use and numerous advantages, it comes as no surprise that Azure for students has proved to be a worthwhile initiative by Microsoft that more learners should use.