Colleges That Offer Free Laptops
Writer & Editor
Writer & Editor
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Access to technology is essential for college students today. Yet, according to a 2021 report from the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, around 19% of college students report technology barriers that prevent online learning, like inadequate computer hardware or internet connection.
For online students, a high-performing computer is essential to participate in virtual learning. If that's you, there are many online colleges with free laptops that encourage students to enroll.
More and more colleges are creating programs to help students bridge the digital divide. We've compiled a list of resources that provide free laptops for college students. Whether they're loaned from the university library or gifted by an online degree program.
50 Colleges That Offer Free or Discounted Laptops, and other Tech Perks
The majority of colleges, at the very least, will connect you to student laptop discounts with tech companies like Apple and Dell. Some universities will offer incoming students a free laptop they can keep even after graduating. And some colleges loan students a laptop for a semester at a time. Check out the laptop policies at these 50 colleges.
|Alabama State University||Free loaner MacBook Pro laptops through Apple Loan Program||College of Business and Administration students|
|American National University||Free laptops and software||All domestic students|
|Amridge University||Discounted laptops through Chromebook program||All students|
|Azusa Pacific University||Discounted laptops through CollegeBuys||All students|
|Auburn University||Discounted laptops through Apple, Dell, HP, and IBM||All students|
|Bethel University||Free laptops or Chromebook||All undergraduates|
|California State University, Bakersfield||Free loaner laptops through STEP Program||Students with demonstrated financial need|
|California State University, East Bay||Free loaner laptops can be checked out every semester||All students (first come, first served)|
|California State University, Fullerton||Free loaner laptops can be checked out every semester||All students (first come, first served)|
|Chatham University||Free 13-inch MacBook Air laptops, cases, and backpacks||All first-year students; some transfer students|
|Dakota State University||Free Dell laptops||All full time first-year students|
|Davenport University||Discounted laptops through participating vendors||All students|
|Drexel University||Discounted laptops through participating vendors||All students|
|Eastern Kentucky University||Discounted laptops through EKU's Barnes & Noble bookstore||All students|
|Harvard University||Discounted laptops through Apple and Dell||All students|
|Indiana State University||Free loaner laptops||Commuter students|
|Moravian University||Free MacBook Pro laptops and iPads||All first-year students|
|Northwest Missouri State University||Free laptops and laptop repairs||All students|
|Oklahoma State University||Discounted laptops and technology through OrangeTech||All students|
|Park University||Discounted laptops through participating vendors||All students|
|Purdue University||Discounted laptops and technology through ITaP Shopping program||All students|
|Saint Leo University||Free loaner laptops through Department of Information Technology||All students (first come, first served)|
|San Diego State University||Free loaner laptops can be checked out from the library||All students (first come, first served)|
|Seattle Pacific University||Discounted refurbished laptops through Computer and Information Systems||All students|
|Seattle University||Discounted laptops through participating vendors||All students|
|Seton Hall University||Free laptops and software||All undergraduates|
|Southern Nazarene University||Discounted laptops through Dell||All undergraduates|
|Southern New Hampshire University||Discounted laptops through Apple and Dell||All students|
|St. John's University||Discounted laptops through Lenovo and Apple||All students|
|Stony Brook University||Discounted laptops through Dell||All students|
|Strayer University||Free laptops with Microsoft software||New and readmitted bachelor's students|
|The Ohio State University||Discounted laptops and technology through Tech Hub||All students|
|University of Arizona||Discounted laptops and accessories through university BookStores||All students|
|University of Arkansas, Grantham||Free Lenovo laptops||All students|
|University of California, Berkeley||Discounted laptops and technology through participating vendors||All students|
|University of California, Davis||Discounted Apple products, including laptops, through TechHUB at campus bookstore||All continuing and professional education students|
|University of California, Irvine||One-time budget increase of $2,000 can be requested for new laptop; discounted laptops also available||All undergraduate students receiving financial aid|
|University of Central Florida||Discounted Apple and Dell laptops through Computer Store||All students|
|University of Michigan||Discounted laptops through Tech Shop||All students|
|University of Minnesota, Crookston||Free laptops and software||All on-campus students|
|University of Nevada, Las Vegas||Discounted laptops through participating vendors||All students|
|University of Texas at Austin||Discounted laptops and technology through Campus Computer Store and HiEd Tech Store||All students|
|University of Texas at Dallas||Discounted laptops and technology through Student Technology Initiative and HiEd Tech Store||All students|
|University of Texas at San Antonio||Discounted laptops and technology through Campus Technology Store and HiEd Tech Store||All students|
|University of Texas at Tyler||Discounted laptops and technology through Dell and HiEd Tech Store||All students|
|University of Texas Rio Grande Valley||Discounted laptops and technology through HiEd Tech Store||All students|
|Villanova University||Discounted Apple and Dell laptops through Partner Purchase Program||All students|
|Wake Forest University||Discounted laptops and technology through WakeWare||Undergraduate students|
|Washington State University||Discounted laptops and technology through CORETECH||All students|
|Western Washington University||Discounted laptops and technology through participating vendors||All students|
How to Get a Free or Discounted Laptop for College
If you're in need of a laptop or computer for college, there are many ways to find one. Whether you earn a scholarship, are gifted one by a family member, or attend a school that lends them.
Choose a School With a Laptop Program
Instead of giving laptops to students, many 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.
Use Scholarship, Grant, or Loan 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.
Purchase From Companies That Offer Student Discounts
You may be able to get an education discount directly from companies that sell laptops. For example, Lenovo offers a 5% discount for students and teachers who verify their ID using ID.me. Apple and Dell also offer education discounts on some of their laptops.
Look for Used and Refurbished Tech
Another way to save money on a laptop is to buy used. Sites like Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and OfferUp allow sellers to list new or used items, including laptops, in their local market. However, be cautious when using third-party vendors — they may not always be reputable.
Additional Resources for Free or Discounted Laptops
- Community Computer Connections Program: This program refurbishes computers and offers them free of charge to low-income individuals, veterans, and families on Long Island.
- Computers With Causes: Computers With Causes takes donations of used or surplus computers and gives them to students, teachers, schools, and other worthy recipients.
- 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.
- Notebooks for Students: Notebooks for Students is a nonprofit organization offering discounted laptops to college, high school, primary, and homeschool students.
- PCs for People: This organization sells refurbished and discounted computers, internet modems, and tech accessories for students 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.
- Tech Exchange: Tech Exchange was founded to help address the digital divide. The organization provides refurbished computers to low-income families free of charge.
- 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.
- 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.
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, processor speed, and software compatibility.
For example, if you're a computer science major, you'll likely need a specific device to support your computing coursework. Your personal budget can influence the ideal laptop for you, too.
We've rounded up some top picks from our guide on the 11 best laptops for college students.
Top 7 Laptops for College Students
- Apple McBook Air M1: Best for students seeking a lightweight design and long battery life.
- Acer Swift 3: A portable but powerful laptop that is great for multitasking.
- Microsoft Surface Pro 8: Versatile device with a touch screen and long battery life.
- Acer Chromebook Spin 713: Best Chromebook for students seeking a reliable and durable option.
- Apple MacBook Pro M1 Chip: A premium Apple option for students who need a powerful and long lasting laptop.
- Dell XPS 13: A premium Windows laptop for students looking for advanced performance and graphics.
- Lenovo Chromebook Duet: Best for students on a budget seeking a high-performing laptop.
Frequently Asked Questions About Free Laptops for College Students
Why do I need a laptop for college?
Many college classes include coursework that must be completed or submitted 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 FAFSA funds' balance once student accounts are settled.
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.