Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.
As work and school have pivoted to remote environments in the last couple years, computer sales have soared to record highs. Laptops and mobile technology have become even more necessary in today’s households, offices and classrooms.
But for college students, new laptops often come at steep, unaffordable prices. Fortunately, there are ways to get a free laptop for college. Through scholarship opportunities, charitable donation programs and college student discount deals from top brands, tech is becoming more accessible to students.
What Is a Free Laptop Program?
Free laptop programs provide computers at no cost to students. Funded by colleges, educational nonprofits and scholarships from leading tech brands, these programs empower students with reliable tech to ensure academic and professional success.
Keep in mind: Most free laptop programs have specific eligibility requirements, including enrollment in an accredited four-year degree program.
Do Colleges Give Students Free Laptops?
Yes. Many colleges distribute free laptops at no cost to their students. The following are just a few examples of universities in the U.S. that guarantee free technology to incoming students:
- Moravian University issues MacBook Pros and iPads to students, including AppleCare coverage and the option to have regular repairs and service via Moravian’s IT help desk.
- Full Sail University’s Project Launchbox gives every student a laptop loaded with professional creative software to promote an immersive, hands-on learning experience.
- Chatham University’s first-year students receive a free, 13-inch MacBook Air laptop with AppleCare and SafeWare protection. They also get protective accessories and the option for on-campus repairs.
As you start applying to schools, check out their IT department websites. These usually outline any free or discounted laptop promotions for new students.
If your college or university doesn’t offer free laptops as a part of enrollment, check out your school’s library. Temporary laptop loans are typically available for students to use on campus. For commuter students who prefer to study off campus, local libraries are also a great option for borrowing free laptops.
Organizations that Provide Free Laptops
If you don’t have access to a laptop through school and you’re experiencing financial challenges, don’t worry. Several nonprofit organizations provide free laptops to students in need on a rolling basis.
The On It Foundation
Since 1999, the On It Foundation has provided free computers to low-income K-12 students in U.S. public schools. The nonprofit collaborates with educational institutions, businesses and local community members to collect and distribute donated computers. The organization also offers technology training and internet access to families.
To apply for a free computer, a parent or guardian should contact the On It Foundation via a letter or an email with a request that includes proof of financial need.
Computers with Causes
Receiving hundreds of requests per day, Computers with Causes gives over 20,000 donated computers annually as a part of the Giving Center Charity. Free computers are available to anyone. However, the organization prioritizes students and teachers, people experiencing housing insecurity, disabled veterans and military families.
Students can apply online and expect to receive confirmation of their free computer within a month.
Scholarships and Grants that Provide Free Laptops
High school students may be eligible for scholarship and grant opportunities that offer free laptops. These programs are often competitive and selective. Some are fairly accessible but require fundraising to cover the costs of technology.
Dell Scholars Program
Each year, the Dell Scholars Program provides high school graduates with a $20,000 educational scholarship, a free laptop, and textbook credits through Chegg—plus professional and personal resources to help navigate life challenges during the college years.
Applications open in October, so if you’re a rising high school senior, you can start submitting materials this fall. To qualify, candidates should have a minimum 2.4 GPA and be Pell Grant eligible. Applicants should also be on track to graduate in the same academic year they apply, and they should plan to enroll in a bachelor’s program immediately after graduation.
Laptops 4 Learning
Founded in 2015, Laptops 4 Learning (L4L) equips students with computer access to help them excel in school and the workplace. The mission-driven nonprofit also supports military veterans, who are also eligible for a laptop.
To obtain a free computer, register for an account on L4L’s website. From there, students should solicit their networks and local communities for donations to cover costs. Once sufficient funds are raised, students receive their free laptops.
Discounted Laptops for College Students
The following nonprofits and online platforms sell refurbished laptops at a discounted rate for students seeking reliable, affordable products. These are great options if you’re looking to save and invest in a device.
PCs for People
This nonprofit organization sells discounted desktop and laptop computers. It also provides a variety of tech services, including computer repair and recycling. With a mission to close the “digital divide”, PCs for People serves low-income families and individuals with disabilities.
Starting at $145 for a laptop, PCs for People currently offers brands like HP, Dell and Lenovo.
Dell Refurbished sells an array of refurbished Latitude models at a discount. Offering thorough computer inspections plus “cosmetic grades” to ensure top-notch quality, bargain shoppers can snag a like-new laptop starting around $400.
Notebooks for Students
Originally founded by college students in California, Notebooks for Students (NFS) works with tech brands to provide refurbished, discounted laptops to students of all ages.
The organization’s homepage offers an extensive lineup of laptops categorized by school grade level and high-performance laptops. NFS offers both Mac and PC products, and prices start around $200.
Unlike most refurbished laptop sellers, NFS includes a free four-year warranty with the purchase of a laptop. This warranty includes full tech support to troubleshoot hardware repair, software installation and file recovery.
An e-commerce platform, ConnectAll aims to provide affordable, refurbished laptops and desktops to nonprofits and low-income individuals.
The organization’s laptop inventory is sortable by form factor, storage capacity, memory and operating system. With options for Mac and PC, prices range from about $100 to $1,000. This includes free shipping, a one-year extended warranty and pre-installed Microsoft Windows and Office software.
College Student Technology Discounts and Deals
If you’re set on purchasing a brand-new device, many trusted tech brands offer annual educational discounts that cater to college students. Some of these laptop offers include bundled add-ons like gift cards and pre-installed software.
Dell Student Discount
Dell’s student discount specials include savings of up to $200 on new models like the Inspiron 14. Dell offers a no-interest payment plan in their education pricing. The company also includes the option to install Microsoft Office software like Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Microsoft Student Discount
Microsoft offers up to a 10% discount on select products for students, teachers, parents and the military. To access this discount, check your eligibility by logging in to your Microsoft account when prompted. From there, start shopping and the best price will appear as you browse.
Free access to Office 365 is also included when purchasing with a student discount. Note that this discount cannot be combined with other offers.
Apple Education Pricing
Apple is known for its educational discounts for students and parents, faculty and staff and even homeschool teachers. Shopping with a verified email address and institutional affiliation can save students up to $100 on Apple products including iMac, MacBook Pro, Macbook Air and iPads.
Education pricing also includes an Apple gift card (up to $150 in value) when purchasing select items.
Samsung Education Offer Program
Through Samsung’s Education Offer Program, students can purchase a brand-new Galaxy Chromebook at a fraction of the retail cost, saving up to $575. Samsung’s back-to-school bargains are not limited to laptop deals. Students and educators can shop for tablets, phones, watches, audio accessories and more.