Colleges That Offer Free Laptops

In some cases, eligible students can receive both a free laptop and or tablet after graduation, at no cost. Read on to better understand which programs can work for you.

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by Staff Writers

Updated August 29, 2022

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Online students need access to a computer or laptop to enroll in classes. They must also have internet access to log in and complete their assignments. But online students aren't the only learners who rely on a computer. Increasingly, even on-campus programs require students to have laptops or tablets.

To make it easier for students to meet this technology requirement, some schools now offer free laptops for college students. The cost of this device is often included in the school's tuition and fees.

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Ready to start your journey?

The following ranking includes the nation's top colleges that offer free laptops. Many schools allow students who complete their degree to keep this device upon graduation. In addition to complementary laptops, some schools also offer students significant discounts on software.

What Are the Best Laptops for College?

When choosing a laptop for college, it's important to make sure the device meets all of your program's hardware requirements. Check with your school to get the exact specifications, including the recommended hard drive size and processor speed.

Some schools may require an Apple device. If that's the case, you'll probably end up spending more than you would spend on another type of device. Read our guide to check out the 10 best laptops for college students.

Top Five Laptops for College Students

  • Acer Swift 3 (10th Gen): Best for students seeking a powerful, lightweight laptop
  • Apple MacBook Air: Best for students seeking a lighter, more affordable MacBook
  • Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch): Best for students seeking a powerful MacBook
  • Asus Chromebook Flip C436: Best for students seeking a sleek, lightweight Chromebook
  • Dell XPS 15: Best premium Windows laptop for creative students

How to Get a Free or Discounted Laptop for College

If you're wondering how to get a free laptop for college, you can start by choosing a college that offers free laptops. These schools offer some type of laptop program or scholarship that covers a student's technology needs. If the college you plan to attend is not on this list, contact an admissions officer at your school and ask whether they offer any assistance to help students get laptops or tablets.

Choose a School That Will Lend You a Laptop

Instead of giving laptops to students, some colleges lend them out. For example, Santa Ana College's Digital Dons program allows students to borrow a laptop for one term at a time. Students enrolling in the program must agree not to allow anyone else to use the laptop and to use it only for academic purposes.

Check Your Local Library

You may be able to check out a laptop at your local library. Most libraries have limits on how long you can keep these devices, and you may not be able to take them out of the library. As an example, the San Francisco Public Library allows members to check out laptops for up to two hours per day.

Use Scholarship or Grant Money

While some scholarships and grants can only be used to cover tuition and fees, others have looser restrictions. Some types of financial aid let you use funding to pay for books and supplies, including required technology like a laptop or tablet.

Look for Companies That Offer Education Discounts

You may be able to get an education discount directly from a computer company. For example, Lenovo offers a 5% discount for students and teachers who verify their ID using ID.me. Apple also offers education discounts on some of its laptops.

Search Third-Party Websites

Another way to save money on a laptop is to buy used. Sites like Craigslist and OfferUp allow sellers to list new or used items, including laptops, in their local market. This enables buyers and sellers to meet up in person to finalize the transaction, giving buyers a chance to inspect the goods. Buyers can also find new and used laptops on eBay. However, be cautious when using third-party vendors — they may not always be reputable.

Additional Resources for Free or Discounted Laptops

Notebooks for Students

Notebooks for Students is a nonprofit organization offering discounted laptops to college, high school, primary, and homeschool students.

Computers With Causes

Computers With Causes takes donations of used or surplus computers and gives them to students, teachers, schools, and other worthy recipients.

With Causes

With Causes reuses and recycles computers to help disadvantaged and underemployed individuals. The organization also provides support for educational programs and classrooms, including computer labs.

Virginia Star

This after-school club teaches high school students to refurbish computers. These refurbished computers are donated to school districts, organizations, and families in need.

Tech for Troops

Tech for Troops refurbishes used computers to keep them out of landfills. The organization donates these refurbished computers to veterans in need and their families.

Kramden Institute

Kramden Institute refurbishes old computers and awards them to students and community members in need. The organization also offers educational programs in digital literacy and advanced coding.

Tech Exchange

Tech Exchange was founded to help address the digital divide. The organization provides refurbished computers to low-income families free of charge.

Community Computer Connections Program

This program refurbishes computers and offers them free of charge to low-income individuals, veterans, and families on Long Island.

Frequently Asked Questions About Colleges That Offer Free Laptops

Why do I need a laptop for college?

Many college classes include coursework that must be completed using software on a computer. Students may need Microsoft Office to write a paper or complete a PowerPoint presentation, for example. Even students in nontech programs may need to complete assignments on a computer. Although colleges typically give students access to computer labs, these may not always be convenient or accessible.

Can I get a free laptop for college?

If you attend an online college that offers free laptops, you may qualify for a free laptop or tablet through your school. Other options to get a free laptop include contacting a nonprofit organization that gives refurbished laptops to students in need or asking around to see if anyone you know has a used laptop they don't need anymore. Some people may be happy to help out a struggling student.

Can I use FAFSA aid for a laptop?

If you receive more FAFSA aid than you need to cover your tuition and fees, you may be able to use the rest to buy supplies, including a computer or tablet. Some schools issue a rebate check for the balance of the FAFSA funds once settling student accounts.

What laptop do most college students use?

Many students use a Chromebook or other inexpensive laptop. However, some academic programs require an Apple computer, such as a MacBook Pro. Regardless of what everyone else uses, you should make sure your laptop meets the requirements for the program you're enrolling in.

How do I choose a student laptop?

Most students look for a laptop that is affordable. However, you should check your school's requirements to make sure the computer you choose has the right operating system and possesses enough processor speed and hard drive space to run the software you need for your classes.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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