Top 14 Back-to-School Student Discounts
The great madness of back to school sales will arrive faster than the newest overly-outrageous tuition bill. For college-bound students, fall semester means more than the requisite pens and paper: Software, textbooks and bedding are just the tip of the freshman iceberg.
Tech products are by far the most-wanted and most-expensive school supplies. Laptops are a must have for students, making August the best time to buy a new system. (See number 19 on our Best Time to Buy Guide). Thanks to ultra-portable models, they're more affordable than ever.
As an added bonus, most manufacturers offer student discounts on computers, either through their websites or from campus tech stores.
In addition to technology deals, college student discounts are available year round. Some stores even reward teachers, alumni and Kindergarten-through-12 kiddos. All merchants typically require is proof of academic status, such as a photo ID, recent transcript or an "edu" e-mail address.
Here are the top student discount programs, with a smattering of back-to-school specials. Breathe a sigh of relief-ish knowing the cash you save can go towards next semesters tuition.
SOFTWARE AND COMPUTERS
1. Amazon Free Shipping and Textbook Discounts
There's no sugar coating here -- this one is a doozie. Sign up for a free Amazon Student account and get free Amazon Prime membership for one year, including free shipping with no minimum order size. Did I mention it's all free?
There are two caveats: The deal is only available for college students and Amazon will charge $79 annually if you don't cancel before the year is up.
Amazon also is a great source for textbook discounts. Even during the late summer rush, you can snag books for as much as 90-percent off. Your wallet will love you. Your spine after the first few weeks of lugging around a loaded backpack...not so much.
2. Adobe Software Savings
Adobe has a reputation for incredible programs at unattainable prices. Enter the perks of being a student. Buy from the Adobe education store and get up to 80 percent off student bundles.
What's the difference between the $1,899 Creative Suite Premium commercial edition and the $449 student copy? $1,450 -- no more, no less. Both carry the new CS5 versions of Photoshop, Flash, InDesign, and a slew of other invaluable programs.
Get the rebate by ordering from the education store and submit your proof within six days or the purchase simply expires. The discount changes occasionally, but Adobe rarely has anything less than A-plus deals and free shipping coupons for the newest generation of full-price-paying computer nerds. Enjoy it while you can. (This offer is available even if you're just taking a continuing-education class.)
3. Apple Products
College is a time of experimental individualism: Just make sure you do all that experimenting on a Mac. Every year around this time, Apple offers a mouth-watering deal for students, faculty and staff: Buy a new laptop or desktop and get an iPod touch for free (or a rebate of $199 if bought online) as well as free shipping. Apple's deal ends Sept. 7, giving you plenty of time to shop around.
Apple also offers special pricing for qualified universities. Visit the Apple education portal to check if your school is part of the program. And no worry, the free iPod deal is good either way. Discounts usually range from $50 to $200 on a gang of hip, trendy, Jobs-borne gadgets and computers. Just remember the duct tape for your new iPhone 4.
4. Dell Laptops
If a PC is more your style (and sits more comfortably in your price range), Dell puts a unique spin on laptop shopping. Visit Dell's academic hub and select your college or high school from a drop list on the right side.
If this is your first computer, the kind folks at Dell have customized several laptops to match your major. Examples include the media-friendly Communication Arts widescreen and the super-fast Graphic Design system.
The Dell student discounts are also kind, ranging from $25 to $200 on laptops over $699. The deal lasts until July 29, so buy soon or you'll be left relying on sketchy library desktops.
5. Microsoft Software
Microsoft took a cue from Adobe and made their essential Office Pro Academic box-set affordable for students. Like a soon-to-be-missed homemade dinner, the $79.95 bundle comes with all the fixin's, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint. At checkout you'll receive instructions on how to prove your poorer-than-Ramen student status. Once verified, the bundle can be downloaded directly over the web.
Apple aficionados can visit the Microsoft student discounts site and get Office for Mac at $119.99, a 70-percent price slash.
6. HP Hardware
Unlike some manufacturers, HP doesn't partner with specific institutions. This makes their student discounts available to anyone, from community college freshmen to Harvard post docs.
The HP Academy program is free and gives you access to the HP education store. Best of all, it's open to parents, faculty AND alumnus, so even former art majors can finally put their diploma to work.
Currently, HP is taking up to $330 off laptops, $250 off monitors and desktops, and $50 off printers.
7. Sony Hardware
Chances are you'll spend as much time at college browsing Facebook photos (aka Facebook stalking) as you will reading, studying or sleeping. Why not equip yourself for all those activities and take advantage of Sony's 10-percent-off deal on laptops, e-readers, cameras and more. Everything available through the Sony Style Education Store is eligible until Sept. 6.
8. Academic Superstore
The Academic Superstore is one of the ultimate depositories for all things "academic," including (but not limited to) software, backpacks, computer speakers, MP3 players, cameras, headphones and console gaming controllers.
Of course, there are also boring things like calculators and books. The traditional definition of academia aside, you'll also find most of these items on sale for up to 85-percent off.
9. AT&T Service Discounts
AT&T is one of many cell-phone providers to offer student and business discounts on monthly bills. Not many know about these programs, but most are generous and only require a one-time sign-up. Percentages can change month-to-month based on how many others register, but a little oomph is better than nothing.
Head to the AT&T Business Center and log your e-mail under the discounts section on the right side. If your school is affiliated, AT&T will take up to 20-percent off your monthly charge.
10. Verizon Wireless Service and Accessories
Visit the Verizon discount program page and enter your e-mail. Don't worry if it says employee -- you're at the right spot. Verizon will send a message with further instructions if your college is registered.
Discounts range up to 20-percent off any voice plan (not just text or data) and 25-percent off accessories. The minimum eligible amount is $34.99 per month, but nowadays, what service other than Jitterbug is less?
11. T-Mobile Service Discount
T-Mobile only grants a maximum of 15-percent off on your monthly service contract, but students, professors and even alumni can receive this deal for most accounts.
The T-Mobile business page gives some basic info, but there's no quick way to register online. Call customer service or drop by your local T-Mobile store to get the ball rolling. You may have to upgrade or switch to a business plan, but rules vary from school to school.
12. Sprint Service Discount
Sprint also has 15-percent deal that can easily be added onto almost any pre-existing plan. Visit the Sprint Employee Value Program portal and use your e-mail to register. Sprint makes it especially easy to compare and contrast your options with a simple list of eligible plans.
13. J. Crew Discounts
A new semester demands a new wardrobe, just as college courses demand coffee-induced study benders. Well, maybe not that bad, but classy threads from J Crew will distract your prof from baggy eyes and in-lecture snoring.
Students and teachers with a photo ID or "edu" e-mail get 15-percent off regular- and promo-priced items. (J Crew recently changed their policy, so sale merchandise no longer counts.)
You can use the discount when you buy over the phone, in-store or online. If you choose the interweb option, there's no place to enter an e-mail or prove you really do attend school during checkout. Call Customer Service within 24 hours, give your order number and they'll apply the discount.
14. Club Monaco
Club Monaco is a chic East Coast-inspired outlet similar to Banana Republic and New York and Co. Most of their locations will give students 15- to 20-percent off any purchase, white hipster slacks and leather shoes included.
Despite their trendy website, Club Monaco is one of the few brands without an online store. (You can't even buy their clothes through a third party.) But a trip to one of their 38 locations across the country is well worth it.
They offer complimentary alterations on almost every piece of clothing so you look hugged rather than squeezed. There's usually a small fee for alterations on sale items (about $10), but you can't put a price on turning heads across campus.
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