Colleges That Offer Free Laptops

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August 20, 2021

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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.

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.

Top Colleges That Offer Free Laptops

Independence University View School Profile 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 College View School Profile Bethlehem, PA

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 University View School Profile 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 View School Profile 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 View School Profile 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 University View School Profile Pittsburgh, PA

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 University View School Profile Washington, DC

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 View School Profile Greensburg, PA

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.

Bethel University View School Profile 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 University View School Profile Durham, NC

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 View School Profile 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 View School Profile Crookston, MN

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 View School Profile Maryville, MO

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.

Maryville University View School Profile 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 View School Profile Columbus, OH

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.

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? true

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? true

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? true

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? true

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? true

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.

First-time college students are highly susceptible to overspending. Learn how you can budget in college for more spending money. Discover ways to cut costs and find cheap college textbooks. You can also recoup money by selling your used textbooks. Saving money in college can feel overwhelming. These 16 money-saving apps will teach you how to budget effectively so you can reach your financial goals.

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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