Gone are the days when a student could turn up for college with nothing but a new backpack full of college-ruled notebooks and pens. Laptops have become an indispensable part of the college student’s equipment. That is particularly true of online colleges that require their students to access the Internet for classes. But a laptop can also add to the expense of attending college. So are there any online colleges that offer free laptops? And what other options are there for low-cost or free laptops?
There are very few jobs that a college graduate might apply for that don’t involve interacting with computers. And the PC has revolutionized the way colleges teach with many colleges even moving all their course guides and textbooks into online or eBook versions. This is particularly the case with online colleges. That’s without even mentioning that for online schools, a computer is necessary just to attend class.
There are, but laptops are offered in a variety of ways at different schools. Some schools include a laptop as part of the tuition fee. Others see the laptop as part of their cost of delivering their programs and do not include a laptop cost in their tuition fee. Then there are schools that offer low-cost laptops to students, which allows students to choose what sort of laptop they want.
The bigger online colleges like University of Phoenix, Kaplan University and DeVry University do not offer free laptops to students. Most of the these schools, like many colleges, have student discount programs that offer deep discounts on name brand laptops like HP and Dell, as well as on software needed for courses.
Stevens-Henager College is an accredited career college based in Utah that offers online programs through its Salt Lake City/Murray campus. Students at the school taking hybrid courses are given a laptop when they enter as freshmen, and the laptops are owned by the student upon graduation. Students who drop out or leave the college must return their laptop, and students are responsible for maintaining their laptops.
Bethel University in Tennessee offers online students a free iPad to use as part of the school’s technology initiative. Students who graduate get to keep the iPad.
There are many other colleges, such as Wake Forest and Villanova that are on-campus colleges with some online programs, which offer all incoming freshmen a leased laptop free of charge for the duration of their study. At these schools, students return the computers in their sophomore year and exchange them for updated machines. On graduation, students return to laptops as the programs are lease-based, and students never own the laptops outright.
Colleges that offer free laptops often have to recoup the cost of the laptops elsewhere, and that’s usually in the tuition or in the form of a technology fee. So in the end, a free laptop probably isn’t really free. You should ensure you evaluate the total cost of your online program, including tuition, books, materials and a laptop, so you are making an apples-to-apples comparison.
If your chosen college isn’t one of the online schools that offer laptops, there are still other options to get a laptop free or at little cost. Read on for more information about how to lower (or eliminate) your technology cost as you head off to college.