If you’re an incoming college freshman with a limited budget, one way to offset the cost of buying a laptop is to find a university program that offers one as part of its overall tuition package. You should pay careful attention to the language that advertisers use to describe these programs: except for in very rare cases, colleges don’t give away “free laptops” to their incoming students. Rather, these laptops are compensated for in the overall tuition bill that you pay your school.
However, since tuition costs can be offset by things like scholarships and need-based financial aid packages, if you receive a full-ride grant to a university that gives laptops to its students (for example), you are effectively getting a “free” computer. Below, we have created a list of schools that offer laptops as part of their tuition statements. As of June 2014, this is the most complete list available on the Internet, and we have hand-verified each school’s policy to ensure that all the information we provide about what kind of laptop you’ll receive is as up-to-date as possible.
|School||Type of Computer||MSRP for Laptop||Any Additional Applications?||Received How||Additional Details|
|Wake Forest University||Lenovo X1 Carbon ThinkPad||$1,186.55||WFU Google Apps for Education offers a fully integrated suite of services including email, calendaring, documents, storage services and more. WebEx provides a full suite of collaborative web-based conferencing tools and a secure communications channel for video, file transfer, chat, and voice conferencing.||Given to student during orientation.||Option to upgrade with extra fees.|
|University of the Southwest||Chromebook||$319||All digital textbooks are included.||Shipped to student.||N/A|
|Southern Nazarene University||Fujitsu Lifebook S752||$899.99||N/A||Given to student during orientation.||Option to upgrade with extra fees.|
|Ursinus College||Dell Latitude E6430||$1299.99||N/A||Given to student during orientation.||Every new student receives a laptop computer upon arrival on campus, and receives an upgrade to the computer at least once again before graduation.|
|ICDC College||N/A||N/A||All digital textbooks are included.||Receipt of laptop is at the sole discretion of ICDC College.||Online students only, laptops are included with tuition.|
|Berklee College of Music||Apple MacBook Pro||$4,500||Laptop is prepackage with industry standard software.||Given to student during orientation.||Berklee purchases and configures the Berklee Laptop Package for entering students and includes a “Berklee Laptop Purchase” charge on students’ first semester tuition bill.|
|Bethel University||N/A||N/A||All digital textbooks are included.||N/A||N/A|
|Chatham University||Apple MacBook Pro||$999||N/A||Given to student during orientation.||Ownership of the equipment is transfered to the Student upon graduation.|
|CollegeAmerica||Depending on program. Apple MacBook for Graphic Arts||Varied||N/A||N/A||Ownership of the equipment is transfered to the Student upon graduation.|
|Full Sail University||Apple MacBook Pro||$999||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Indiana State University||Lenovo ThinkPad T440||$999||N/A||Given to student during orientation.||Laptop Schlorship Award Program available to all incoming students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.|
|Morrisville State College||Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga and Apple iPad Mini||$1,599||N/A||TBD by school||N/A|
|Northwest Missouri State University||HP EliteBook 840 G1 Notebook PC||$2,395||All digital textbooks are included.||N/A||N/A|
|Rochester College||Apple MacBook Pro||$999||N/A||N/A||Ownership of the equipment is transfered to the Student upon graduation.|
|Seton Hill University||Apple MacBook Pro and iPad||$999||N/A||N/A||Ownership of the equipment is transfered to the Student upon graduation.|
|Stevens-Henager College||Depending on program. Apple MacBook for Graphic Arts||Varied||N/A||N/A||Ownership of the equipment is transfered to the Student upon graduation.|
|St. John’s University||Lenovo ThinkPads||$999||N/A||Given to student during orientation.||Student can upgrade to Apple MacBook for a fee of $300.|
|West Liberty||Window based laptop or Apple iPad||Varied||N/A||Given to student during orientation.||Ownership of the equipment is transfered to the Student upon graduation.|
|Widener Univesity||Window based laptop or Apple iPad||Varied||N/A||Given to student during orientation.||Laptop Schlorship Award Program available to all incoming students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher.|
|Centenary College||Toshiba Satellite C55 or Apple MacBook Pro||$859||N/A||Given to student during orientation.||N/A|
|George Fox University||Apple MacBook Pro and iPad||$999||N/A||Given to student during orientation.||N/A|
Finding a school with a laptop program is only one way that a student can reduce his or her tuition bill. If your dream school doesn’t include laptops in its package, several manufacturers offer student discounts on specific products. There are also public organizations, grants, and scholarships across the United States that help students purchase laptops and other college material necessary for success. A few starting points include:
Although a large percentage of colleges do not include laptops in their tuition, financial aid offices often know of places to acquire college preparedness scholarships that help students to purchase computers (sometimes offered by the school itself). The best way to find out if such a program exists at your school of choice is to contact the financial aid office directly and speak to an advisor. Additionally, your local library may have resources about organizations and resources for college preparedness in your community.
The short answer is no. Typically, when a college offers a laptop as a part of the overall tuition, that laptop is lumped somewhere amongst the overall college costs. However, it is possible that two schools which offer laptops each have different tuition costs, meaning that the computer is effectively “cheaper” (but still not free) at the school which costs less. At some schools, like Wake Forest University, students are charged a monthly fee for protection on the device in case it breaks.
The exact specifications and brand of your laptop depend on the university and program. Sometimes a technical engineering or multimedia degree track requires robust software that works better on a specific brand of computer. Either way, you can expect the laptop to have high-speed, modern specs and the software you need to accomplish all coursework.
The exact time that you receive your laptop through a college package varies by school. Usually, the university will make sure that you have the technology before you start taking classes. If you are taking online courses, you will receive your laptop via mail within a period designated by your school (typically after payment is received and you are officially enrolled).
A very large majority of colleges that offer laptop programs transfer ownership of the computer to the student once he or she graduates. During the college career, however, the laptop is property of the university, which means that if you drop out you are expected to return it. Some colleges have stricter requirements: at Indiana State University, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale and must be registered as full time students to keep their computers.
Most of the time, it will be your responsibility as a student to make sure you backup your data regularly. Each school’s policy regarding lost or stolen laptops varies. Wake Forest University’s monthly laptop protection plan charge does not cover stolen laptops, so read the fine print carefully.