Fiscal responsibility is often a necessity when working towards a four-year college degree. In addition to the ever-increasing cost of room and board, tuition and books, one also needs to budget for basic living expenses, occasional entertainment, unforeseen emergencies and so on.
Getting the most out of each dollar is absolutely critical for many during this stage of life but what most don’t realize, however, is that their college education can start paying dividends even before they step on campus. There are plenty of compassionate companies that offer deep discounts on all sorts of products for students enrolled at an institution of higher education.
To help the millions of broke college students out, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top tech-related student discounts from a variety of vendors. Most apply to those enrolled in post-secondary education although a handful of deals also extend to K-12 students.
Microsoft’s Education Store offers varying degrees of discounts on both hardware and software purchases. For example, students can save up to $194.90 on a Surface Pro 3 tablet, as much as $300 on an all-in-one PC and $289.90 on a MakerBot Replicator 3D printer.
On the software side, students can score a full copy of Windows 8.1 Pro for $69.99 and Office 365 University – a four-year subscription to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access – for just $79.99 (that works out to roughly $20 per year).
Microsoft Education Store discounts are offered to K-12, higher education students, parents purchasing on behalf of students, education institution employees, faculty, staff, school board and PTA/PTO executives for K-12 and higher education institutions. Some discounts are only available to higher education students and may require eligibility verification.
Microsoft appears to be using the honor system here in terms of academic status verification although the company reserves the right to collect the full price of products ordered in the event of false representation of eligibility. Simply select your educational level, state and school name to shop the Microsoft Education Store. Deals are only valid through January 1, 2015, or while supplies last. Full list of terms and conditions can be found here.
Amazon offers a little-known discount program for students called Amazon Student. Eligible students will enjoy a six-month free trial of Amazon Prime as well as e-mail alerts for discounts and promotions. Once the trial period expires, students will get Prime at a rate of $49 which represents a 50 percent discount over the standard price.
What’s more, Amazon has a referral system in which students can earn a $10 credit for each person they recruit to Amazon Prime (a similar offer applies to standard Amazon Prime members but you only get $5 per referral). There’s no limit to the amount of referral credits that can be earned and they can be stacked to use more than one per order.
While that’s a great offer, there’s one major caveat that students need to be aware of. During the initial six-month free trial, Amazon’s music, movie and TV offerings aren’t available. If that’s too much of a burden, one can always upgrade to the paid student program early to receive full Prime benefits.
Amazon Student is available to those currently enrolled in a college or university with a valid .edu e-mail address. To get started, complete the sign-up form, then click the link in the verification message sent to your school e-mail address. Note that Amazon will ask for your expected graduation date, academic level and major during the sign-up process. Full list of terms and conditions can be found here.
Spotify is one of the most popular streaming music providers around and they also happen to be one of the few that offer a student discount. Those eligible can enjoy a 50 percent discount off the regular price of a Premium membership (no ads and no limits), bringing the total monthly cost down from $9.99 to just $4.99.
To sign up, simply visit this website, log into Spotify using your regular account credentials or through Facebook and complete the verification application to determine if you’re eligible. Those who are eligible – students enrolled at an accredited U.S. higher education institution (college, university) – will get the discounted rate for a 12 month period. Students will need to renew their discount after 12 months to continue receiving it.
Those that already have a Premium membership can click here and follow the steps to convert to the discounted rate, which will be applied on the next renewal date.
Unfortunately, students won’t be able to get a refund for the months of Premium they’ve already paid for before learning about the discount. Those that get turned down but think they are eligible can apply for manual verification by clicking here. This process can take up to 12 hours.
Streaming music provider Rdio also offers a discounted rate to those seeking a degree and much like Spotify, Rdio’s offer knocks 50 percent off the price of their top plan. Here are a few things you’ll need to know to keep an extra $5 in your wallet each month with Rdio Unlimited.
Rdio’s discount is only offered to students enrolled at a National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) affiliated school. The company claims most colleges are but students can check for themselves here, or simply jump into the sign-up process here.
Additionally, a social security number is required for all students as Rdio uses the last four digits to verify enrollment. Unfortunately, this means that international students without a valid SSN aren’t eligible and it also means that having a .edu e-mail address isn’t enough to get the discount.
It’s worth pointing out that existing Rdio users won’t be able to be part of a Family plan while participating in the student discount program. Also note that the discount can be applied for a maximum of four years so freshmen signing up will get the most life out of it.
Adobe offers a wealth of multimedia and creativity software products but did you know they also offer an excellent discount program for students (and teachers)?
Those eligible can save a whopping 60 percent on a complete Creative Cloud subscription. With the discount, students will pay just $19.99 per month for the service – down from the standard rate of $49.99. While it is certainly a good deal, there are a few caveats that you’ll want to take note of before signing up.
Eligible students can purchase a 12-month membership for $239.88 up front for the first year or $19.99 per month with a 12-month contract. After the first year, Adobe will automatically renew you for another year at the regular price. What’s more, the offer is only available to first-time members and is limited to one purchase per customer.
As per Adobe’s FAQ, students must be at least 13 years of age and enrolled in an accredited public or private university or college, primary or secondary school or be homeschooled to be eligible. Those providing a school-issued e-mail address will be instantly verified during purchase. A document with name, institution name and current date (school ID card, report card, transcript, tuition bill or statement) will also work.
Homeschooled students will need to provide a dated copy of a letter of intent to homeschool, current membership ID to a homeschool association or dated proof of purchase of curriculum for the current academic school year to gain eligibility.
The Apple Store for Education offers a couple of decent student discounts. Those eligible can save up to $200 on a new Mac, as much as $20 on a new iPad and up to $50 off AppleCare protection plans on select items.
Education pricing is available to college students, students accepted to college, parents buying for college students, faculty and staff at colleges, homeschool teachers and staff at all grade levels. School board members are also eligible in addition to PTA or PTO executives serving as elected or appointed officers.
Purchases can be made either online, in an Apple Retail Store or through an Authorized Campus Reseller. If purchasing online, you won’t need to verify eligibility. If you’re buying at an Apple Retail Store or picking up an online order there, you’ll need to supply proof of student enrollment (ID card, for example).
Do note that Apple limits the number of products that can be purchased in a given year using an education discount. Those limits include one desktop per year, one Mac mini per year, one notebook annually and two iPads each year. It’s also worth pointing out that Apple will finance student purchases, spreading them out over up to 48 monthly payments.
The nation’s second largest wireless provider offers discounted rates to students whose college or university has an agreement with AT&T. To check eligibility, simply submit your school e-mail address at AT&T’s Premier Business Center website.
If your school has an agreement with AT&T, they’ll send you an e-mail with details. As an example, my girlfriend could save 17 percent on her wireless bill each month (a friend at a different university qualified for a 19 percent discount so it appears to vary by school affiliation).
There are a couple of restrictions to be aware of. For starters, students must provide proof of eligibility (student ID card). What’s more, discounts are not available with any unlimited voice plans. For family talk plans, the discount applies only to the primary line. For Mobile Share plans, discounts apply only to the monthly service charge for the data allotment of eligible plans, not to the additional monthly device charge(s).
AT&T will also waive activation fees and upgrade fees on qualified plans.
Similar to AT&T, Verizon offers student discounts based on school affiliation. To check eligibility, students can submit their .edu e-mail address on Verizon’s discounts page then check the message Verizon sends over.
Again, student discount rates will vary based on school. Using my girlfriend again as an example, she would qualify for a 19 percent discount on data packages and 25 percent off accessories. This would apply to every line she adds on the account, not just the primary line.
According to Verizon’s discounts FAQ, most plans with a monthly fee of $34.99 or higher qualify for a discount. Verizon will periodically (no more than once per year) ask you to validate your status to ensure you’re still eligible for your discount. If you fail to validate with 60 days of being asked to do so, the discount will be automatically removed.
It’s also worth pointing out that if you already have Verizon service, adding a student discount won’t affect your current contract.
Sprint’s discount program is handled through the employee value program. To check eligibility, simply submit your .edu e-mail address and wait for a reply in your inbox. If you already have service through Sprint, you can enter your phone number here to see if you’re eligible for a discount.
Sprint offers discounts to students based on their school’s agreement with the wireless carrier. In my girlfriend’s case, she was eligible for a 19 percent discount on monthly services.
According to the terms and conditions, discounts only apply to Talk 450 and the primary line on Talk Share 700 plan. What’s more, discounts are only offered for data service for Sprint Family Share Pack, Sprint $60 Unlimited Plan and Unlimited, My Way plans. Discounts aren’t offered on “no credit check” offers or Mobile Hotspot add-on.
T-Mobile offers student discounts through its Advantage Program. To check for discounts, simply fill out the form on the Advantage Program page using your school-issued e-mail address.
My girlfriend qualified for the Advantage Program through her university. T-Mobile used to have a worthwhile discount program but as part of CEO John Legere’s Uncarrier moves, he severely cut back on the discount.
Instead of a percentage off your monthly rate plan, T-Mobile now only offers new signees a $25 reward card each time you purchase a new device. The card can be used at T-Mobile stores towards the purchase of a new device, accessories or it can be applied to your monthly bill. It’s better than nothing but a far cry from what it used to be.
T-Mobile says they may need to verify information periodically to validate eligibility (basically to make sure you are still a student at a school affiliated with their program).
Dell – Save two percent on purchases through Dell University
Sony – Up to 10 percent savings on items purchased through Sony Student Store
Lenovo – Their Academic Purchase Program has various discounts on all sorts of products
Fujitsu – Students and educators can get a five percent discount on select laptops and tablets
Norton – Students can save around 50 percent on security software
Corel – Save up to 96 percent off retail price on Corel products
Best Buy – Get coupon codes sent to your school-issued e-mail address
Intel – Low-priced and free development tools from Intel
As you can see there are plenty of companies that offer worthwhile discounts to enrolled students. And as with any type of deal, if you’re unsure if a discount is offered, simply ask!
For example, in speaking with a Lenovo chat representative, I was offered additional discounts on top of what was shown to be the best student discount on their website. And in the case of wireless providers, you can often negotiate a lower rate – especially if you haggling skills are up to snuff (or you threaten to change providers).
Last but certainly not least, check with your school’s IT department to see if they offer any free or discounted software. It’s not uncommon for educational institutions to offer full versions of anti-virus software. You’ll never know unless you ask!