Apple has finally announced its 2011 Back to School promotion, which runs from June 16, 2011 to September 20, 2011. The deal comes with a significant change: instead of a free iPod touch with every Mac purchase, Cupertino is this year giving away a $100 iTunes gift card in the US and Canada (£65 iTunes gift cards in the UK, €75 in Europe) with a qualifying Mac purchase.

That means if you buy a MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, or Mac Pro with Apple education pricing, you'll get $100 to spend at the Mac App Store, the App Store, the iTunes Store, and/or the iBookstore. iTunes gift cards can be redeemed in iTunes and used for any content purchase: e-books, music, movies, television shows, and apps for Macs and iOS devices. The promotion applies to college students, students who have just been accepted to college, parents buying for college students, and faculty or staff members at any grade level.

If you'd like, you can read through the official US Back to School 2011 Terms and Conditions (PDF). For those less patient, here's the crux of how to get your free iTunes gift card:

When you buy a qualifying Mac at the Apple Retail Store or Apple Online Store, we'll include your Back to School Card with your order. If you buy at a campus store, you'll submit your claim online and get your code via email. Enter the code on your Back to School Card in your iTunes account and we'll automatically credit you with $100 to spend on the Mac App Store, the App Store, the iTunes Store, and the iBookstore.

This year's promotion may come as a shock to those hoped that Apple would continue its tradition of luring students with free Apple hardware. It appears that Microsoft may have chosen a great year to start its own deal for students looking to buy a new computer. Redmond is offering a free Xbox 360 console to students who buy a Windows 7 PC for over $700.