Online Colleges That Offer Laptops

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Online Colleges that Offer Laptops

And How to Choose – and Find Funding for – the Right Laptop if They Don’t

Laptops are the technological tool of choice among college students today. It should come as no surprise then that – according to a 2014 survey by computer company AMD – nearly 85 percent of college students report using a laptop for classwork, research and assignments. The same survey reports that 41 percent of students regard their laptops as their most prized possession, even above their phones and cars. Despite the prevalence of laptops on the college campus, costs can be prohibitive, and make it difficult for already financially-stressed students to afford what is increasingly becoming a necessary tool. Thankfully, many colleges are recognizing this need, and financial aid programs have begun to spring up to help students afford the costs of laptops and other technology.

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Best Online Colleges Offering Laptops and Tech Perks for 2017

Covering the cost of necessary technology can seem overwhelming for prospective students. To help alleviate some of the financial strain, various colleges offer laptop programs and other valuable tech perks. Most programs either gift a laptop or tablet to incoming students, offer discounts towards a laptop or tablet, or loan a device to students during their enrollment. Beyond laptops, many colleges also provide complimentary or discounted software, mobile phones and plans, software training, or cloud storage. View the 50 colleges featuring the best combination of tech perks, overall affordability, and online academic excellence below.

Rank University Name Score Net Price Financial aid percent Online Programs Aavailable Student-Teacher Ratio Grad Rate University Information Laptop Tablet Program Free Loan Discount Free Discount Tech Cellphone Software Software Training Cloud Storage
1 Saint Leo University Score99.80
Net Price
Financial aid %99%
#Online programs54
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate43%

Students living on the Saint Leo University campus will be eligible to receive a Microsoft Surface 3 to enhance their learning experience. The Microsoft Surface 3 will provide students with the means to complete a large amount of their coursework from any location on campus, while also having access to web-based personal interests in their off-hours. For part-time students, Saint Leo offers a laptop rental program that offer all the same benefits available for full-time, on-campus students who have received the Microsoft Surface 3. Distribution of computers is based on a first-come, first-served policy.

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2 University of Florida Score98.01
Net Price
Financial aid %29%
#Online programs48
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate85%

The University of Florida has developed a wide variety of workshops and tutorials to help students learn technological basics that facilitate student learning. The UFIT program has partnered with Microsoft to provide students with training in Windows 10, Excel, Powerpoint, and more. Basic training with these programs can help students to work with more autonomy out of their homes, opening up options to take more online courses. Online courses are available for several UF programs, allowing students to complete their schoolwork from any location. UFIT workshops are free to any students who are currently enrolled at the University of Florida.

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3 The University of Alabama Score97.99
Net Price
Financial aid %53%
#Online programs26
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate67%

One of the greatest benefits of studying at the University of Alabama is in its technical support for its students. The University of Alabama provides a large selection of software programs at no charge for any UA student, faculty member, or staff member, allowing for the most productive academic environment possible. Programs include the full series of Microsoft Office product's Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. Qualtrics, Mathematica, and several others. Students and faculty members will be able to access these programs from anywhere on campus, giving them free reign over their academic development.

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4 Indiana State University Score97.59
Net Price
Financial aid %75%
#Online programs40
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate43%

First time freshman students attending college full-time at Indiana State University are eligible to benefit from an affordable laptop rental program. Laptops are typically rented out on a semesterly basis, costing $100.00 dollars for used laptops and $125.00 for new laptops. Students who rent their laptop for three consecutive years become the official owner of that laptop, giving them the chance to continue their mobile work in their final two semesters at no additional cost. Laptops come preloaded with a variety of programs that are necessary to student success, including state-of-the-art word processors and spreadsheet development programs.

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5 Webster University Score97.49
Net Price
Financial aid %94%
#Online programs27
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate64%

Webster University provides its students with several tech selections offered at a discount price, allowing for a cost-effective way to take education on the go. Both Dell and Apple products are available to students, each of which come preloaded with software beneficial to student academic advancement. Webster specifically utilizes Adobe's Creative Cloud package of software programs, which include programs for video and photo editing, graphic design, and even web development. Students who are uninterested in purchasing a Dell or Apple product for themselves still have access to Adobe's Creative Cloud programs in any of Webster's academic labs or in the Emerson Library.

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6 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Score96.40
Net Price
Financial aid %45%
#Online programs12
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate89%

Eligible undergraduate students who have not earned a prior degree and are enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill may be considered to receive a CCI (Carolina Computing Initiative) laptop grant. The amount of money provided by the CCI grant is dependent upon the applicant's needs; students may even qualify to have the entire laptop package covered by the CCI grant. Whether heading to class or to the library, students who receive these laptops will be able to take their academics on the go. Students who receive the CCI laptop grant must be eligible to receive federal student aid.

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7 Chatham University Score96.13
Net Price
Financial aid %100%
#Online programs5
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate59%

Incoming students entering a full-time undergraduate program are eligible to receive a MacBook Air laptop at Chatham University through the school's Undergraduate 1:1 Program. In addition to a new computer, students will also receive a protective laptop case and backpack complete with Chatham University logos. The laptop will also come with 4-year AppleCare Warranty and SafeWare damage and theft protection. Students will also have access to the school's Helpdesk Repair Services. Transfer students may also qualify to receive a computer if they meet the minimum requirements.

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8 Arizona State University-Tempe Score96.11
Net Price
Financial aid %86%
#Online programs16
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate58%

In addition to a quality education, on the greatest benefits of studying at Arizona State University in Tempe is the discounts afforded for computers, software, and other tech. materials. With the ASU Sun Card, student will have access to these discounts, as well as 10% off Lifelock identity theft protection. Software that cannot be purchased is likely offered at no cost to ASU students via the My Apps remote access program. My Apps gives students access to a large selection of software including Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Excel, and more at any location on campus, allowing them to take their learning wherever they'd like to study.

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9 Oregon State University Score95.83
Net Price
Financial aid %55%
#Online programs34
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate61%

At Oregon State University, students have access to various cloud storage platforms, which allows students to store, manage, and access their files anywhere with an internet connection. The school offers access to Box, Microsoft One Drive and Google Drive, which are online storage platforms where students can collaborate and access files of various sizes. Students should be mindful of these accounts before graduation, since files may be lost if they aren't transferred to a personal account. Students can choose to share individual folders with their peers. Various cellular providers such as Verizon Wireless, Sprint/Nextel, T-Mobile and AT&T also offer discounted plan rates for OSU community members.

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10 Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus Score95.75
Net Price
Financial aid %37%
#Online programs52
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate86%

Students at Penn State have access to various technology discounts and benefits just for being enrolled. Students are able to receive software, media services, computer hardware and accessories, and discounted cellular services through Penn State. In addition, the school offers free disk space, storage and sharing through Box at Penn State. Box is a secure content sharing platform that students can manage from anywhere. To help students navigate various software, the schools offers free technology training that can be accessed online and in person. To help Penn State researchers find the best information, students have free access to ScholarSphere, an online repository of scholarly work.

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11 University of Arizona Score95.55
Net Price
Financial aid %77%
#Online programs19
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate61%
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12 Ball State University Score95.51
Net Price
Financial aid %47%
#Online programs26
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate57%
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13 Lesley University Score95.47
Net Price
Financial aid %99%
#Online programs9
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate46%
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14 Bowling Green State University-Main Campus Score95.34
Net Price
Financial aid %70%
#Online programs20
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate58%
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15 University of Missouri-Columbia Score95.08
Net Price
Financial aid %62%
#Online programs24
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate71%
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16 Indiana University Score94.79
Net Price
Financial aid %46%
#Online programs15
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate75%
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17 Northwest Missouri State University Score94.60
Net Price
Financial aid %93%
#Online programs8
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate52%
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18 University of Virginia-Main Campus Score94.50
Net Price
Financial aid %29%
#Online programs9
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate93%
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19 University of North Carolina at Greensboro Score94.28
Net Price
Financial aid %49%
#Online programs22
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate54%
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20 University of Arkansas Score94.15
Net Price
Financial aid %38%
#Online programs25
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate60%
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21 Ohio State University-Main Campus Score93.87
Net Price
Financial aid %78%
#Online programsN/A
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate82%
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22 St John's University-New York Score93.71
Net Price
Financial aid %98%
#Online programs24
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate59%
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23 Stony Brook University Score93.70
Net Price
Financial aid %67%
#Online programs11
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate70%
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24 SUNY College at Oswego Score93.60
Net Price
Financial aid %77%
#Online programs7
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate58%
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25 Southern Nazarene University Score93.48
Net Price
Financial aid %95%
#Online programs4
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate40%
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26 Temple University Score93.43
Net Price
Financial aid %76%
#Online programs7
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate66%
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27 University of Kansas Score93.38
Net Price
Financial aid %60%
#Online programs8
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate64%
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28 University of Northern Iowa Score93.37
Net Price
Financial aid %59%
#Online programs10
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate66%
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29 Northern Michigan University Score93.35
Net Price
Financial aid %81%
#Online programs6
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate44%
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30 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Score93.26
Net Price
Financial aid %42%
#Online programs22
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate84%
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31 University of Utah Score93.07
Net Price
Financial aid %41%
#Online programs4
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate59%
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32 University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth Score93.03
Net Price
Financial aid %68%
#Online programs11
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate50%
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33 Morningside College Score92.92
Net Price
Financial aid %99%
#Online programs5
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate59%
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34 Seton Hall University Score92.54
Net Price
Financial aid %97%
#Online programs12
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate67%
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35 University of Valley Forge Score92.28
Net Price
Financial aid %93%
#Online programs7
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate47%
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36 California State University-East Bay Score91.77
Net Price
Financial aid %52%
#Online programs7
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate41%
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37 University of Wisconsin-Madison Score91.75
Net Price
Financial aid %36%
#Online programs7
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate82%
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38 University of Wisconsin-Stout Score91.74
Net Price
Financial aid %23%
#Online programs19
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate52%
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39 Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Score91.72
Net Price
Financial aid %99%
#Online programs6
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate62%
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40 Grand Valley State University Score91.64
Net Price
Financial aid %70%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate66%
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41 Cornell University Score91.29
Net Price
Financial aid %47%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate93%
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42 Northeastern University Score91.18
Net Price
Financial aid %69%
#Online programs6
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate79%
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43 University of Georgia Score91.06
Net Price
Financial aid %20%
#Online programs7
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate81%
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44 Wake Forest University Score90.55
Net Price
Financial aid %40%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate87%
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45 University of Nevada-Las Vegas Score90.47
Net Price
Financial aid %38%
#Online programs4
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate41%
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46 Broward College Score89.19
Net Price
Financial aid %23%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad RateN/A
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47 Texas State University Score88.87
Net Price
Financial aid %8%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate55%
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48 American University Score88.16
Net Price
Financial aid %70%
#Online programsN/A
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate77%
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49 CUNY Medgar Evers College Score87.59
Net Price
Financial aid %N/A
#Online programsN/A
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate17%
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50 Independence University Score86.73
Net Price
Financial aid %28%
#Online programs13
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad RateN/A
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Comparing Top Picks

LAPTOPS

Laptops range widely in price with the least expensive priced at just under $200 and the most expensive topping $3,000 in 2015. A typical student probably will not have to pay over $800 for a laptop used for college coursework.

PC Magazine recommends the following laptops for college students in 2015:

Product Tech PC Mag Score Price Screen size Weight RAM
Asus Chromebook Flip (C100PA-DB02) Chrome OS $239 10.1 inches 1.96 lbs. 4 GB
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s Microsoft Windows $1,254.99 14 inches 3.5 lbs. 8 GB
Acer Aspire E5-573G-57HR Microsoft Windows $554.99 15. 6inches 5.29 lbs. 8 GB
Alienware 15 Microsoft Windows $1,899.99 15.6 inches 7.1 lbs. 16 GB
Apple MacBook Air 13-Inch Mac OS X $894.78 13.3 inches 2.96 lbs. 4 GB
Apple MacBook Pro 13-Inch, Retina Display Mac OS X $1,234.99 13.3 inches 3.48 lbs. 8 GB
Dell Latitude 13 7000 Series 2-in-1 (7350) Microsoft Windows $1,549 13.3 inches 1.92 lbs. 8 GB
Dell Latitude 14 7000 Series (E7450) Microsoft Windows $1,368.30 14 inches 3.59 lbs. 8 GB
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12 Microsoft Windows $1,572.99 12.5 inches 3.48 lbs. 8 GB
MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G-1438 Microsoft Windows $2,099 17. 3 inches 8.5 pounds 16 GB

Choosing the Right Laptop for Your Needs

The same laptop will not work for every college major or student. For example, a graphic design student needs a high-graphics laptop, complete with editing software and a powerful processor. A political science student needs a much less powerful laptop. Students should consider what they need the laptop to do, what software programs they will need and their target budget before shopping for a laptop computer.

Arts, Film, Graphics Design Need :
  • Graphics and animation support

  • Fast CPU

  • Ability to run Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator or Final Cut Pro.

Laptop: Mac. Example: MacBook Pro

IT and Engineering Need :
  • High-speed processing

  • Ability to use AutoCAD software

  • Create spreadsheet and run program simulations.

Laptop: PC. Example: Lenovo ThinkPad

Non-Tech Student Need :
  • Word processing software

  • Moderate hard drive storage

  • Wireless Internet card.

Laptop: Chromebook. Example: GP Chromebook 11

If you do not need a high-powered laptop, the following key features should be powerful enough for most college-related applications:

  • Wi-Fi readiness: minimum 802.11g Dual-Band wireless card

  • Lightweight for easy portability: 3-5 lbs

  • Screen resolution: minimum 1024×768

  • Ram: minimum 4 GB (8 or more is best)

  • Hard drive: minimum of 128GB solid state drive or 250GB hard disk drive

  • Backlit keyboard with a number pad

  • Battery life: minimum 4 hours

  • Ports: At least two USB 3.0 and an HDMI

  • Screen: 11 inch minimum

  • Operating system minimums: Mac OS 10.6, Windows 8.1

PC vs Mac

Since the invention of the personal computer, there has been extensive debate over whether the PC or a Mac is the better option. Today, there is little difference in capabilities between the two – except where it concerns software. Mac computers are typically loaded with software designed for creative applications (like video editing and audio recording); personal computers are usually come stocked with software designed for business use, such as spreadsheet programs and word processors.

Other Tech

Students also depend on other portable electronics during class, such as, tablets, smartphones, e-readers or hybrid machines. According to a 2015 report from PC Magazine, tablets are useful as secondary devices, but have limited software selection and processing power. However, students have successfully used tablets and other devices for classwork without the need for laptops or traditional desktop computers, depending on their majors and course requirements.

Before You Buy

Shopping for a notebook? Here are some key questions to ask:

  • Do you offer student discounts?

  • Do you offer payment plans?

  • What kind of warranty comes with the laptop?

  • What is the laptop’s processing power?

  • How long is the battery life?

  • Can additional RAM or a larger hard drive be added?

  • What kind of wireless card is installed?

  • Does the laptop have a dual-band wireless card?

  • What is the screen size and resolution?

  • What software comes installed on the laptop?

  • What kind of DVD, optical, Blu-Ray, player/burner does it have?

  • How many USB ports does the laptop have?

  • Are the USB ports 3.0?

  • Does the computer have a dedicated graphics processor? (Especially important for design students.

TABLETS & READERS

Tablets and e-readers are also popular choices for college students. A 2013 survey conducted by Pearson Education revealed that over half of college students claim they perform better in the classroom because of tablets. Two-thirds of students surveyed believe the tablet will replace printed textbooks in the near future. Nearly 90 percent of college students own laptops, Pearson found, but almost 40 percent of college students own a tablet.

Tablets are limited in processing power and may not be suitable when visual design, animation, data crunching or academic research is required.

PC Magazine selected these top-performing tablets for 2015:

Product Tech PC Mag Score Price Dimensions Weight Storage Capacity
Apple iPad Air Apple iOS $339 9.7 inches 16.86 oz 16 GB
Apple iPad Air 2 Apple iOS 8 $449.88 9.7 inches 0.96 lb 16, 64, 128 GB
Asus Transformer Book T100TA (64GB) Microsoft Windows $256 10.1 inches 1.44/2.4 lb 64 GB
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 Android 4.4 $399 8.4 inches 11.68 oz 16 GB
Apple iPad mini 2 Apple iOS $259 7.9 inches 11.68 oz 16, 32 GB
Asus VivoTab Note 8 Microsoft Windows $289.99 8 inches 0.85 lb 32 GB
Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 Series (7140) Microsoft Windows $799 10.8 inches 1.6 lb 128 GB
Microsoft Surface 3 Microsoft Windows 8.1 $599.99 10.8 inches 1.37 lb 128 GB
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 Android 4.4 $448.99 10.5 inches 16.47 oz 16 GB
Google Nexus 9 Android 5.0 $305.37 8.9 inches 14.99 oz 16, 32 GB

SMARTPHONES

A 2014 survey from Infographics Commons found that many college students use their phones to study. The survey indicated that 65 percent of college students rely on phones to get their news and 82 percent use their phones for research. Students also use smartphones to take lecture notes, dictate papers, use scientific calculators, coordinate their school calendars and streamline study time.

PC Magazine recommends these smartphones for 2015:

Product Tech PC Mag Score Price Dimensions Battery Life Screen Size
Apple iPhone 6s (T-Mobile) iOS 9 $649 5.44 by 2.64 by 0.28 inches 4 hours 21 (LTE streaming) minutes 4.7 inches
Apple iPhone 6s Plus (AT&T) iOS 9 $799.99 6.23 by 3.07 by 0.29 inches 4 hours 11 (LTE streaming) minutes 5.5 inches
Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (Unlocked) Android 5.1 $399.99 6.06 by 3.0 by 0.44 inches 4 hours, 42 (LTE video streaming) minutes 5.7 inches
OnePlus 2 (Unlocked) Android 5.1 $329 5.98 by 2.95 by 0.39 inches 5 hours, 19 (LTE video streaming) minutes 5.5 inches
Samsung Galaxy S6 (T-Mobile) Android 5.0 $579.99 5.65 by 2.78 by 0.27 inches 7 hours, 48 (LTE video streaming) minutes 5.1 inches
Alcatel One Touch Idol 3 (Unlocked) Android 5.0 $279.99 6.01 by 2.96 by 0.29 inches 4 hours, 12 (LTE video streaming) minutes 5.5 inches
Motorola Moto G (2015, Unlocked) Android 5.0 $149.99 5.59 by 2.85 by 0.48 inches 6 hours, 32 (LTE video streaming) minutes 5 inches
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 (Verizon Wireless) Android 5.0 $349.99 6 by 3 by 0.3 inches 7 hours 35 (LTE video streaming) minutes 5.7 inches
ZTE Grand X Max+ (Cricket Wireless) Android 4.4 $199.99 6.38 by 3.27 by 0.31 inches 5 hours, 49 (LTE video streaming) minutes 6 inches
HTC One (M8) for Windows (Verizon Wireless) Windows Phone 8.1 $480 5.7 by 2.8 by 0.37 inches 10 hours, 50 minutes 5 inches

Other Resources to Help Pay for Laptops

Many top computer and software manufacturers, big-box stores and resellers offer student discounts on technology. Some companies may require students to join a consumer club, and other companies may offer free trial programs for software or services. NOTE: Students must provide a student ID or an .edu email address when applying for most discount programs.

  • Amazon Student

    is offered to students through a free six-month trial through Amazon Prime, with exclusive promotions in technology, two-day shipping and access to movies, TV shows and music. After the trial, Prime membership costs students $49 per year.

  • Apple Store for Education

    offers student discounts up to $20 on a new iPad and $200 on a new Mac computer.

  • Best Buy College Student Deals

    sends e-mail updates regarding upcoming sales. Recent specials included a $50 discount on iMacs and MacBooks, including free shipping. Students can also save $80 on the Microsoft Surface 3 128GB, keyboard and pen package.

  • Dell University

    is Dell Computer’s online membership purchasing club for college and university students. Discounts are available for desktops, laptops, gaming PCs and monitors. All Dell PCs come with a one-year warranty.

  • HP Academy

    offers members savings up to 20 percent on HP products, free shipping and student-tailored product recommendations through its free PC MatchLab service.

  • InterConnection

    is a charitable computer reuse organization designed to help students find PCs, Macs, laptops and monitors. A refurbished laptop including Windows 7 Pro, Office Home 2007, Wi-Fi Card, Spyware and Antivirus software sold for $99 in 2015.

  • Lenovo’s Academic Purchase Program

    offers discount tablets with prices reduced by as much 47 percent. Laptops are up to 53 percent off of Lenovo’s original list pricing.

  • Newegg

    ’s student-only store offers deep discounts on new or refurbished notebooks, tablets and other electronics to members. Students need an .edu email address to apply. Students can get up to $100 off a new Surface Pro 3 through the program.

  • Notebooks for Students

    (NSF) is a nonprofit organization created by students for students in 1998 as a way to provide students with dependable, powerful laptops at affordable prices. Deep discounts are available through the program on select computers.

  • Sony Education Store

    offers 10 percent-discount student deals on Xperia tablets, laptops and smart devices. Students must provide student ID to qualify for student discounts.