How Much Do 1:1 iPad Classrooms Cost?

EducationDiveBannerA recent look at what Los Angeles is paying for students’ iPads in its 1:1 program found that the cost far exceeds what other nearby districts are paying for programs offering iPads, Chromebooks or other laptops. Now, Los Angeles is surveying dozens of other school districts to find out what they’re paying.

So, what do other tablet and laptop programs cost? And what are districts getting for that money? As of June, about 10 million of the 155 million iPads sold were in schools. But it’s not just iPads that schools are buying. Here’s a look at six 1:1 programs across the country.



Cost per device: $768
What it includes: iPad and curriculum
Other details: It’s one of the biggest price tags around for a 1:1 program, but defenders of the Los Angeles iPad rollout point out that the district is getting a new math and English curriculum along with the tablets. Another factor that accounts for the higher price is that the district is providing the iPad across the board; some districts are giving smaller and cheaper tablets to students in lower grades.



Cost per device: $215/year
What it includes: MacBook Air (leased from Apple)
Other details: This North Carolina program did not come without sacrifice: In order to finance the purchase, 65 jobs were cut, including positions for 37 teachers. In addition to the lease price, the district also pays $100,000 a year for software. Results are promising. The district’s graduation rate jumped 11 points in three years — up to 91%. The percentage of students showing proficiency on state tests in reading, math and science also jumped 15 points in three years, hitting 88%.



Cost per device: $384
What it includes: iPad
Other details: The 1:1 program was put in place at five Nevada middle schools with students from low-income families. The iPads werepurchased with federal dollars. As part of the program’s rollout, an Internet service provider agreed to provide home Internet access at a cost of $9.95 to families whose children participate in the program.



Cost per device: $636
What it includes: 12-inch Lenovo laptop
Other details: Many of the North Carolina district’s 7,500 students would not have computer access if not for the 1:1 program. While most students received the same laptop, the program does make some allowances: Special education students may receive iPads, for example. As in some other districts, Orange County has arranged for high-speed Internet to be available for $9.99 a month at students’ homes.



Cost per device: $578
What it includes: iPad
Other details: The vast majority of the California district’s children live in poverty. In a canny bureaucratic maneuver, the district saved about $430,000 by putting off purchasing the iPads until after Apple began giving away its iWorks apps. Technology administrators say the district is trying to learn from Los Angeles’ problems with its iPad program and is working with Apple to strengthen security and filtering on the devices.



Cost per device: $400
What it includes: iPad 
Other details: As is the case in other programs, while every student in this Oregon district will have an iPad, not every student will be able to take the tablet home — only those in third grade and above. Besides the cost of the tablets, there was at least one big initial expense: Installing new wireless networks to handle the traffic cost about $350,000.


  1. Hank Thiele

    January 26, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Almost every chromebook deployment beats these by a wide margin.

    • Ben Harrison

      January 27, 2014 at 11:30 am

      Hank just turned an article about iPad costs to a device debate. Not gonna bite on that one. I have participated in several district plannings on device rollout and iPad cost tend to be around $700 a device when you factor in a case, insurance, discounts, etc… Also have seen a less than 3% break/failure rate in several deployments. Great investment if you also invest in training!

  2. Randomguy

    January 27, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Ought to include a Chromebook 1:1 program here. Most I’ve looked at work out to around $250/student for the device. Tech support costs are dramatically less than iPad programs as well. If money is any sort of object for a district, it’s almost irresponsible for a district to ignore the Chromebook option.

  3. Sarah

    January 28, 2014 at 9:16 am

    I’d like to see some statistics on the cost of the iPads over time. I wrote a grant a couple of years ago for a cart of iPads for my classroom, and funding to support their development, updating, app purchase and was only approved for funding for the actual device and the cart they live in. What is the realistic cost year to year once the iPads have been purchased to keep them relevant and with usable, dynamic programs? I ended up having to survive a year with NO money for app purchase for my 28 iPads, and wrote another grant for this year for $1000 which has allowed me to purchase a number of apps and still have funding left over for new ones to come along. Any statistics on that?

  4. William

    January 28, 2014 at 11:24 am

    The ASUS T-100 is $349.00 with Windows 8.1 and is a fully managed computer unlike iPads. Chromebooks are non-touch devices and should never be considered in a learning environment. A Chromebook is a $250 browser which is available on any PC. It is irresponsible and a waste of taxpayer money to spend over $500.00 on any PC in education.

    • Bill

      February 28, 2014 at 10:17 pm

      @William. You haven’t thought about what tools make sense in Education. That the Chromebook is just a browser isn’t a bad thing. Students with Windows and Mac computers are in their browsers most of the time anyway. Web apps are very full featured today, and evolving rapidly. And what does having a touch interface do for you exactly? Not much that matters. If you’re using that Asus Windows 8.1 device, you know it’s true. Regardless there are touch screen Chromebooks now if you just have to. Even if the purchase price of a Chromebook were the same as a Windows powered device, the Windows device costs you far more in the end, with no real added benefit. Same goes for the Mac. Visit a district with Chromebooks and see how well they really work. The iPad is the biggest joke for most use cases in education, but it’s too shiny for many educators to deny.

  5. MEC

    January 29, 2014 at 6:53 am

    I am actually piloting a 1:1 program in my classroom. I am the first in the district to go paperless and attempt full integration. The initial set up was around $13,000 for 30 iPads and a charging station, plus keyboard covers. At this time we are seeing if the program actually saves the district money and it’s impact on the environment.

    I have not actually had to purchase any applications. Students type essays on Google Drive and submit via I use Edmodo to push out quizzes and work. So far this has saved my district hundreds of dollars in print shop cost. Our AP Environmental Science students are actually researching the amount of electricity used to power these iPads for an entire school year compared to the cost of paper copies.

    As far as time is concerned, grading has been cut down by half, which means more time with my family. It should be pretty interesting to see the end result.

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