In addition to providing an important education, colleges help prepare students for ongoing success. Many schools offer financial aid benefits to students from all walks of life and provide technological tools to help them complete their degree. Free laptop programs are among the most popular examples of such benefits.
The following ranking includes the nation's top colleges that offer free laptops or tablets. Many schools allow students who complete their degree to keep the device. In addition to complementary laptops and tablets, some schools also offer students deep discounts on software.
Top Colleges That Offer Free Laptops
|Salt Lake City, UT||
IU offers graduate and undergraduate programs, delivered online and on campus in Salt Lake City, Utah. Upon enrollment, students who attend classes in person receive a free laptop to use. Online students receive both a free laptop and tablet.
Students can keep their laptop and/or tablet after graduation, at no cost. IU loads these devices with the latest software, including resources specific to each learner's course of study. In addition, IU provides advising, tutoring, and career services to all students.
Moravian first received recognition as an Apple Distinguished School in 2018. As such, Moravian issues a free Apple MacBook Pro and iPad to every one of its undergraduate students. Individuals who accept their offer of admission and make an enrollment deposit can claim their devices.
Moravian allows students to keep their laptop and tablet after graduation. The college also extends its offer of free devices beyond first-time students to international and transfer students. Students also enjoy access to a full-service portal for technology support, IT troubleshooting, and equipment rentals.
|Rochester Hills, MI||
In 2008, RU became Michigan's first college to offer an Apple MacBook to all incoming undergraduate students. Today, RU offers a free MacBook Pro or iPad to all full-time undergraduates, as well as part-time, early-college, and dual-enrollment students — provided they meet admission deadlines in the following fall or spring semester.
Students must complete at least six consecutive semesters at RU to keep their MacBook and four consecutive semesters to keep their iPad at no charge after graduation. RU requires students to sign a contract to receive their device. However, students preemptively "own" the device, as the warranty is in their name.
Valley City State University
|Valley City, ND||
Through VCSU's laptop initiative, full-time students are issued a new laptop. Additionally, depending on availability, part-time students may be able to choose a current-model computer or a previous model.
VCSU determines whether a student receives a MacBook Pro or a Windows laptop based on their major — certain programs have specific hardware recommendations. Learners in fields like art, music, and social science receive a Mac, while students in majors like business, natural sciences, and medicine receive a PC.
Full Sail University
|Winter Park, FL||
Through Project Launchbox, Full Sail issues fully loaded laptops to new students. Each laptop includes a Launchbox technology package specific to a learner's field of study. Majors like digital cinematography, music production, game art and design, and sports marketing and media receive extensive creative digital resources.
Full Sail includes the cost of Project Launchbox in the tuition rate and does not charge students additional fees for their laptop or related software. Depending on their program, students may receive staggered access to some software and tools throughout the first and second years of their undergraduate degree program.
Chatham issues a new MacBook Air to incoming first-year students during orientation. The university incorporates use of this hardware into all of its undergraduate curricula and includes access to campus Wi-Fi and tech support on the machine. The laptop also includes a four-year warranty that covers accidental damage and theft.
Chatham includes the cost of the laptop in its technology fee. Students sign a contract that guarantees the transfer of ownership from Chatham to the student upon graduation. Chatham also offers students access to its intranet, CampusNexus, and free versions of popular software like Office 365 and Skype for Business.
Strayer issues a new laptop to new or readmitted students who enroll in an online bachelor's program. Learners must register for a bachelor's program and sign a laptop agreement upon enrollment.
Students may keep the laptop at no cost after they enroll in classes for at least three quarters. Otherwise, students must return the laptop or pay $350. Continuing students and transfer applicants who accept Strayer's offer to cap tuition at $20,000 for bachelor's programs are ineligible for this laptop program.
Seton Hill University
Seton Hill provides all full-time traditional undergraduates with a MacBook Air. Select graduate programs in fields like art therapy, orthodontics, and physical therapy also offer students free laptops.
Seton Hill is an Apple Distinguished School. In addition to free laptops, the university's Mobile Learning at the Hill program provides learning support through the Teaching and Learning Center, as well as on-site tech support through AppleCare. Students seeking IT help with their computer problems can borrow a MacBook Air while their issues are being resolved.
|St. Paul, MN||
As a participant in the Tennessee Laptop Program, Bethel issues free laptops to students enrolled in a graduate or career program. Laptop candidates must be Tennessee residents pursuing a program through Bethel's Graduate School or College of Adult and Professional Studies. Students receive a Dell Latitude 2290 2-in-1 device upon completion of their online orientation.
Learners must return the laptop if they withdraw during their program's first term. Bethel does not offer free laptops to students enrolled in its College of Arts and Sciences or seminary.
Duke offers a free laptop to recipients of the David M. Rubenstein Scholarship. This four-year, loan-free financial aid package covers tuition, room and board, and a fully loaded laptop. Students receive their device on the first day of class. The scholarship supports low-income and first-generation college students.
Unlike most types of financial aid, students do not apply for this scholarship. Duke automatically considers students who demonstrate financial need and learners who indicate on their application that they are the first in their family to attend a four-year college. Additional scholarship benefits include access to professional seminars, enrichment funding, and travel experiences.
Indiana State University
|Terre Haute, IN||
ISU issues a new laptop to recipients of its Sycamore Technology Award. All incoming first-year students who apply by the deadline and submit their FAFSA are automatically considered. Candidates must be enrolled on a full-time basis.
To be eligible for the Sycamore Technology Award, students must also be eligible for a Pell Grant. ISU issues this award to students enrolling in the spring or fall semester. International, returning, and distance learners do not qualify.
University of Minnesota Crookston
UMC was among the first schools with free laptops, issuing computers to all on-campus students and faculty since 1993. UMC recently reached an agreement with HP to implement the latest technologies in its laptop program.
2019 marked the first year UMC offered a two-in-one device, providing all incoming students with an HP 1040 G5 laptop. Candidates must complete a minimum of six credits on campus and pay technology fees to continue using the laptop each semester. UMC considers online learners' eligibility for the laptop program on a case-by-case basis.
Northwest Missouri State University
Northwest provides all on-campus students with a laptop to use while completing their degree. Students can be enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate program and live on or off campus. However, learners enrolled in online professional programs do not qualify.
Eligible students receive an HP Probook 440 G7 with a solid-state hard drive preloaded with programs like Windows 10 and Office 365. Graduate and undergraduate learners must enroll in at least nine or 12 credits, respectively, to qualify for this laptop program. Northwest also provides comprehensive tech support to all users on campus.
|St. Louis, MO||
Maryville issues iPads to all full-time undergraduates when they register for classes. The university piloted this program, called Digital World, to select students during the 2015-2016 academic year. All traditional undergraduates and some graduate students became eligible in 2016-2017.
Maryville's iPads come equipped with access to the university's cloud, and they are preloaded with the textbooks, assignments, and software students need to earn their degree. Students can customize their iPad to include apps like Netflix and FaceTime. Learners may keep their iPad upon graduation.
Ohio State University
Under its Digital Flagship program, Ohio State issues a technology kit to incoming students. Technology kits include an iPad Air 4, accessories, and storage capacity for a year's worth of coursework. Eligible program candidates include incoming first-year students, some transfer and delayed-start students, and military students enrolled at Ohio State in fall 2018 or later.
Students must enroll at Ohio State and sign a student technology agreement to claim their technology kit. Ohio State transfers ownership of the device to the student upon graduation.
Why Do I Need a Laptop for College?
Most college students complete at least some coursework online, instead of in a physical classroom. While college students understand the necessity of technology in higher learning, not everyone can afford to purchase their own laptop or tablet.
Colleges that offer free laptops can provide students with reliable internet access and the latest technology, helping them complete their degree. Additionally, many schools that provide free laptops or tablets preload these devices with tools, such as the school's learning management system software and the Microsoft Office suite.
Many colleges allow students to keep their devices after graduation, which can help graduates with their job search. Other schools may offer rent-to-own programs or purchasing discounts for students interested in retaining their laptops or tablets.
How Can I Get a Free Laptop for College?
Schools that offer free laptop programs often promote these offerings to attract students. However, students should look into the terms of these offers and determine what each school means by "free."
Some schools that provide laptops include the price of the laptop in the tuition costs. In this case, learners still end up paying for the device, although they typically get to keep their laptop when they finish school. Other colleges lease laptops and tablets to students. This option may cost less, but once students graduate, they may need to return their device to the school.
What Is the Best Laptop for Online Classes?
Students should choose a laptop that meets their academic needs. Online learners can find quality laptops from many companies, including Apple, Dell, Lenovo, and Microsoft. This list of laptops provides students with many options, as well as some advice on how to select a device.
Not every laptop will suit each online learner. For example, students studying graphic design may need a computer with significantly more processing power. Students should research laptop options to find a device that fits their price range, needs, and personal preferences. If possible, students should consider visiting a store and testing potential laptops in person.
Is a Tablet or Laptop Better for College?
Tablets often come in smaller sizes and are more portable and accessible than laptops. Laptops offer bigger screens and traditional keyboards.
Students should choose a device that matches the demands of their program. For example, students enrolled in a program that requires frequent writing assignments may want to choose a laptop. Alternatively, students enrolled in classes that require reading and/or design might prefer a tablet.
In either case, students should consider the pros and cons of each device, along with class requirements, before making a purchase.
Can I Use My Financial Aid to Buy a Laptop or Tablet?
In general, students must apply certain types of financial aid, such as scholarships and grants, directly to tuition costs. Students cannot use this money for other purchases, even if they relate to classroom expenses.
Other types of aid, such as student loans, have fewer restrictions. Students with loans can apply these funds however they see fit, including paying off tuition costs and purchasing school supplies. Students can also find financial aid options like stipends and special scholarships that may be used to cover educational expenses, such as textbooks and personal devices.