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A Guide to Free Laptops for College Students

A Guide to Free Laptops for College Students

We live in a technology-driven world where technology has permeated all facets of our lives. And inevitably, access to technology has become a necessity for college students to successfully complete their education and prepare for their future careers.

Unfortunately, not all students can afford to buy their own laptops, creating a massive digital gap that limits their learning options. However, many educational institutions, corporations, and non-profit organizations have recognized this pressing issue and are working hard to bridge the gap by providing free laptops to deserving college students.

In this article, we will explore various initiatives that provide free or discounted laptops to college students who are experiencing financial difficulties. We have covered the application processes, eligibility requirements, and the additional support provided by these programs, such as technical support, internet access, and training, to help you choose a program that best fits your case.

Why Do We Need Free Laptop Programs for College Students?

Why Do We Need Free Laptop Programs for College Students

With the increasing use of technology, laptops have become a necessity for students. They provide access to learning materials, encourage collaboration, and act as a platform for creative expression. But the cost of buying a laptop can be a major barrier for many college students, especially those from low-income backgrounds. Not being able to afford a laptop can prevent them from completing assignments, conducting research, or fully participating in the digital aspects of their studies. This creates a digital divide, perpetuating existing gaps in educational outreach and limiting the opportunities for those who need it most.

Fortunately, a growing number of government and non-profit organizations as well as educational institutions, have recognized the urgency to address this issue by providing free laptops to college students. This progressive approach ensures that no student falls behind due to financial restrictions. 

The benefit of free laptop programs for college students extends beyond the immediate benefits of becoming tech-savvy. By breaking down financial barriers, this initiative fosters a sense of inclusion and equity among them. It recognizes that every student, irrespective of their financial background, deserves an equal opportunity to learn. Moreover, free laptops provide students with essential digital literacy skills that are in high demand in today’s job market. By seasoning them with these essential tools, we are not only enhancing their educational experience but also empowering them for future success in their careers.

Colleges that Provide Free Laptops to Students

Colleges that Provide Free Laptops to Students

When applying for colleges, you should thoroughly browse through their college websites or check with the IT departments to find out about any free or discounted laptop programs available to new students. 

Certain colleges provide laptops on loan to students throughout their studies, with ownership transferring to them upon graduation. In case a student withdraws from such institutions, they may be required to either return the laptop or pay for it. Meanwhile, some colleges offer totally free laptops to qualifying students, or others may charge a technology fee to cover the associated costs.

Here is a list of several colleges in the US that provide free laptops to their students:

Moravian College

Founded in 1742, Moravian College stands as one of America’s most respected educational institutions. Despite being one of the oldest institutions, the college has maintained its relevance by integrating new technological developments into its curriculum. 

Currently, Moravian College is actively integrating technology into its teaching and learning processes. All faculty and students of the college are encouraged to use technology in their classes, reflecting the institution’s commitment to a more technology-driven approach.

 Under the banner of the All-Apple initiative, the college has recognized the high adoption of Apple products for its technology infrastructure. This strategic decision aligns with the College’s mission of enhancing collaboration and communication between students and faculty. As part of this initiative, all incoming first-year students are given MacBook Pros and iPads along with AppleCare coverage to further encourage the integration of technology into their educational experience.

Chatham University

Chatham University, based in Pittsburgh, places a strong emphasis on student support. As part of this commitment, the university offers free laptops to its students. These laptops play a crucial role in incorporating technology into learning practices, utilized by the professors. 

First-year students at Chatham University are given free MacBook Air laptops through their free laptop program. Furthermore, the laptops come with additional benefits, including free repair services and a warranty that covers theft and damage.

These laptops also bear the university’s logo as a distinctive feature. It is important to note that the free laptop program is exclusively available to students beyond the undergraduate level. However, undergraduate students who face financial challenges can still receive financial aid from the university to complete their education.

Rochester University

In 2008, Rochester University became the first educational institution in Michigan to offer free MacBook laptops to its students. In addition to the MacBook Pro, all incoming first-year students and transfer students with at least 29 transfer credits are eligible to receive an iPad. Students who successfully complete all six semesters are allowed to keep the MacBook Pro or iPad as their own.

Full Sail University

Full Sail University provides new students with Apple MacBook Pro laptops as part of Project LaunchBox. However, students pursuing degrees in software development, game development, or simulation and visualization get HP laptops instead. Please note that the software and hardware provided may differ among the many programs of study.

Wake Forest University

Wake Forest University, situated in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, offers its students the opportunity to purchase laptops at discounted prices through the WakeWare program. Students who receive financial aid are eligible for a technology grant that covers the standard costs of the WakeWare laptops. These laptops come with free academic software such as Office 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud. Additionally, they are equipped with extended four-year warranties and insurance that includes protection against accidental damage.

For students who prefer to bring their personal computers, it is important to ensure that their devices meet the minimum configuration requirements set by the university. 

St. John’s University

St John’s University strives for equity and fairness for its students, and to support these principles, the St John’s University Academic Initiative (ACI) has been launched. The main objective of the ACI program is to ensure that every student, regardless of financial status, has the opportunity to enroll in higher education. 

Through the ACI program, eligible freshmen and transfer students who require free government laptops can apply for assistance in New York. On top of that, students will receive free repairs, teaching assistants, a replacement laptop, and warranty coverage in case their device malfunctions. The university will cover these expenses by including a small additional fee in the student’s tuition.

Free Laptop Educational Discounts for College Students

Free Laptop Educational Discounts for College Students

If you are looking to purchase a new laptop, many notable technology brands offer special discounts tailored to student needs. Many of these laptops come with additional perks, like a bundle of gift cards and pre-installed software. 

Let us look at some of these educational discounts offered to college students:

Dell Scholars Program and Other Discounts

The Dell Scholars Program provides an extensive package to support high school graduates in their college journey. This features a $20,000 educational scholarship, a free laptop, as well as textbook credits through Chegg. Also, the program provides essential resources, both professional and personal, to assist students in navigating the problems that they may face during their college years.

Seniors in high school can start applying in October for the Dell Scholars Program. To be eligible, applicants should have a GPA of at least 2.4 and must be qualified for the Pell Grant. They should also have plans to start a bachelor’s program right after their high school graduation and be on pace to graduate in the same academic year they apply.

In addition, Dell offers a student-only special discount that enables you to save up to $200 on a new laptop, like the Inspiron 14. The company also offers a no-interest payment plan as part of its educational pricing, making it easier for students to afford the laptop they want. Furthermore, popular Microsoft Office software like Excel, Word, and PowerPoint are included in the laptop package.

Microsoft Student Discount

Students, teachers, parents, and military personnel can avail themselves of a discount of up to 10% on certain Microsoft products. To find out if you qualify for this discount, simply login to your Microsoft account when prompted and check your eligibility. Once verified, you can start browsing and shopping, and the best price will be displayed as you explore the available options.

Additionally, when purchasing with a student discount, you will receive free access to Office 365. But this discount cannot be combined with any other offers.

Apple Educational Discounts

Apple has a tradition of providing educational discounts to various groups, such as students, parents, faculty, and homeschool teachers. Students can save up to $100 on a variety of Apple devices, including the iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and iPads, by providing a verified email address and institutional affiliation.

Moreover, educational pricing offers an Apple gift card valued at up to $150 for certain products. This provides an additional advantage for students who choose to buy Apple devices through this program.

Samsung Education Offer Program

Students can save up to $575 by taking advantage of Samsung’s Education Offer Program, which allows them to purchase a brand-new Galaxy Chromebook at a substantially reduced price. 

Samsung’s back-to-school promotions extend beyond laptop deals, as students and educators can explore a wide range of options including tablets, phones, watches, audio accessories, and more, all available at discounted prices.

Organizations that Offer Free or Discounted Laptops to College Students

Organizations that Offer Free or Discounted Laptops to College Students

There are several non-profit organizations that offer free or affordable laptops for college students, as discussed below:

Computers with Causes

Computers with Causes, a part of the Giving Center Charity, distributes over 20,000 donated computers each year, responding to numerous requests daily. While free computers are available to anyone in need, the organization prioritizes specific groups, including students, teachers, individuals facing housing insecurity, disabled veterans, and military families.

For students who need a free laptop, the process is simple. They can apply online and can anticipate receiving confirmation of their request within approximately one month.

On It Foundation

The On It Foundation operates under the belief that access to technology is essential for ensuring a successful future for students. Since 1999, the organization has been committed to supplying free computers to economically disadvantaged students in U.S. public schools from kindergarten to twelfth grade.

In tandem with educational institutions, businesses, and local community members, this non-profit gathers donated computers, which are subsequently distributed to those in need. Alongside providing free laptops and computers, the On It Foundation also provides technology training and internet services for families.

To apply for a free laptop, a parent or guardian should contact the On It Foundation via a letter or email, including a request and supporting documentation that confirms their financial need.

Laptops 4 Learning

Laptops 4 Learning (L4L) aims to provide computer access to students, thereby enabling them to succeed academically and professionally. This non-profit organization extends its support to military veterans, who are also eligible for a free laptop.

To acquire a computer without charge, individuals can create an account on L4L’s website. Afterward, students are encouraged to reach out to their families, friends, and local communities to request donations that would cover the expenses. Once enough funds have been gathered, students will get their free laptops. In addition, L4L offers discounted laptops, accompanied by a one-year warranty, with prices starting at $145.

PCs for People

PCs for People is a non-profit organization that provides affordable laptops and desktop computers to those in need. They also provide various technical services such as computer repair and recycling. Aiming to bridge the “digital divide,” the organization focuses on helping low-income families and individuals with disabilities.

Currently, PCs for People offers a choice of laptops from companies like HP, Dell, and Lenovo, costing between $135-$185.

Notebooks For Students

Notebooks For Students, which was initially established by college students in California, collaborates with technology brands to offer refurbished laptops at discounted prices to students spanning various age groups.

On NFS’s homepage, you will find a wide range of laptops classified by school grade level and high-performance capabilities. The organization provides options for both Mac and PC laptops, with prices starting at $200.

Distinguishing itself from many other vendors of refurbished laptops, NFS includes a complimentary four-year warranty with every laptop purchase. This warranty encompasses extensive technical support, assisting with hardware repairs, software installations, and file recovery.

Alliance for Technology and Refurbishing and Reusing

The Alliance for Technology and Refurbishing and Reusing (ATRR) is dedicated to providing free or affordable laptops to individuals in need of assistance. The organization has a clear-cut mission in this regard. To locate a computer, you can utilize the map locator tool available on their website.

While not all laptops are provided free of charge, ATRR does offer reasonably priced alternatives that are highly recommended.

In a nutshell

The increasing reliance on technology has made laptops essential for students, but the cost can be a major barrier, particularly for those from low-income backgrounds. This creates a digital divide, limiting educational opportunities. To address this issue, government organizations, non-profits, and educational institutions are providing free laptops to college students.

These initiatives not only break down financial barriers but also foster inclusion, equity, and digital literacy skills necessary for future career success. Several colleges in the US, such as Moravian College, Chatham University, Rochester University, Full Sail University, Wake Forest University, and St. John’s University, offer free laptops to their students through various programs. 

Additionally, technology brands like Dell, Microsoft, and Apple, offer educational discounts and special offers to students. Non-profit organizations like Computers with Causes, On It Foundation, Laptops 4 Learning, and Notebooks For Students also provide free or affordable laptops to students in need. These programs and discounts aim to ensure that every student has equal access to educational resources and opportunities regardless of their financial circumstances.

David Thompson


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