How to get AWS Accounts for university students

As an instructor, setting up AWS accounts for students is sort of like filling out tax paperwork when I owned businesses, since I only do it once a year I completely forget what I did the previous year.

Since I just looked it up again today, I’ll record my notes on how this can be done.

At present, one option for instructors is to use the website.  From here, instructors have two options.  One, is there are a handful of “classrooms” that allow students to use most of the useful AWS services.  The turn around is 4 days for requesting one.  Another option is to have students apply on their own (it appears) for AWS Starter Accounts, which are somewhat limited but can be renewed annually.  If memory serves me right, it seems like some of my students didn’t get approved the last time they did this.

Here at BYU, we have some other options as well.  We have sandbox accounts that people can request and it gets refreshed on a regular basis.  Another option is to apply for a department account and giving students access (scary).  A final option that BYU is working on but which is not ready to go today is similar to the awseducate option for starter accounts, a special account for each class can be set up that would allow $100 per class per student account. E.g. a student could have two AWS-related classes and have two accounts and therefore $100 in credits per account for a total of $200).

As a last resort, students can sign up for personal accounts under new email addresses each year and will get a free year’s worth of free tier resources. Or, as a last last resort, sometimes I just tell students to use their own credit card and normally they don’t run up more than $10.00 in the semester as long as they are careful. This did bit me in the buttocks this last year when I had students use AWS Workspaces (windows desktops in the cloud) for the first time ever and just spinning up a few desktops for an hour cost my students as much as $40.00 and they each had to contact support at AWS to request a refund which was granted in each case.

As a side note, as an instructor using the awseducate website account, I can log in and under the AWS Account link in the navigation, and apply for credits to apply to my personal account, which are redeemed as coupon codes in my real aws account. Hence, my process is different than for my students. I can also apply for a starter account just like the students and see what they experience.

Alright, well, hopefully I’ll remember to check this blog post the next time I need to do this for my students.

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