First of all, congratulations on your efforts, I think MS should give some bonus to projects like that. Regarding the free services, You really get them free. But you should do it under the Azure portal, at the free services section. Type free services in the search box and you see a link to the section. Under the free services section, you'll find all the services that are free. Some hints that I discovered from myself and are not well documented from Azure help :
- There are 2 VM's under the free services, 1 Linux and 1 Windows, use the link and all the configuration from that setup. Do not change anything. The VMs will be generated and will not be charged during the 750 hours period or 12 months whatever expires first. Be careful, this is not much. After that period they will charge the price that you saw prior to the VM creation. I recommend using one at a time, expire one first, and then use the other. And use auto-shutdown at 7 or 8 PM and then start it manually when you need it.
- Regarding SQL do the same. There is a 250 GB link in free services, go from there. Do not change anything, I was charged a 0,01 amount for Azure APP service which I don't care but I think you can also complain if it's the case. Pls, check the cost management section after you created the service. Don't use the sample data when creating the DB. Let it plain. It's possible to set up an alert when you are about to hit the threshold but then it charges 0,10 cents for the alert. As you are going just to study purposes, 250GB is a lot of data so you can manage it quite easily.
So That's it. After the first 30 days trial, you have to plan carefully every step in Azure because the free could have some other cost embedded. I think MS could improve the subscription services because today everyone is under the same rules and you know, there are big corps, medium corps, small corps, the "individual corp", and the personal individual, who does not want to make any profit at all. All these people will not have the same usage of the system and MS could take into consideration, as it did with Windows.