While colleges with a free laptop offer sound enticing, failing to check requirements can cause you to pay hidden fees or end up with programs that lack accreditation. You don’t want to be working on an ancient laptop, but it’s also important that you’re attending a legit college. 

We’ve done the research and compiled a list of online colleges offering laptops for free or at a discounted rate.

Online Colleges That Offer Laptops

Online colleges that offer laptops to increase accessibility and support student success include the University of Minnesota-Crookston, Seton Hall University, American National University, Oklahoma Christian University, and Chatham University. These schools offer free laptops such as MacBooks, Dell Latitude, HP, and Microsoft Surface models to eligible enrolled students, most often incoming freshmen.

Woman holding a pen while looking at her laptop

Why do these online colleges offer free laptops? These college laptop programs aim to remove barriers and empower more students to excel in online learning by supplying the necessary technology. Accredited schools online can change the terms and availability, so confirm with our partner institution directly for the most updated requirements for discounted laptops.

CollegeLaptop Brand Offers
(subject to terms and conditions)
Program Requirements
University of Minnesota-CrookstonAppleEnrolled in an online program
Seton Hall UniversityDellFull-time freshman student
American National UniversityHPMust remain enrolled
Oklahoma Christian UniversityAppleFull-time undergrad
Chatham UniversityDellIncoming freshman student
University of Texas at San AntonioMicrosoftFull-time freshman
Northwest Missouri State UniversityMicrosoftFull-time on-campus student
Strayer UniversityDellEnroll in bachelor’s degree program
California State University, BakersfieldChromebookMust qualify for financial aid
University of Arkansas, GranthamLenovoActive student status
Dakota State UniversityMicrosoftFull-time freshman student
Indiana State UniversityAppleFull-time on-campus freshman
Full Sail UniversityAppleEnrolled full-time in an on-campus program
Wake Forest UniversityAppleFull-time undergraduate student
Oklahoma State UniversityHPFirst-year undergraduate student
Drexel UniversityApple, Lenovo, DellFull-time undergraduate student
Eastern Kentucky UniversityDellFirst-time freshman student
St. John’s UniversityAppleFirst-year freshman student
Villanova UniversityDell, AppleFirst-year full-time student
Southern Nazarene UniversityDellFull-time undergraduate student
Park UniversityDellEnrolled in an online program
Amridge UniversityNot specifiedFull-time undergraduate student

See Also: Financial Aid Tips for Online College

1. University of Minnesota-Crookston

The free laptop for the college program at Minnesota-Crookston began in 2009 and is still going strong today. You must be a new or returning degree-seeking student taking at least six on-campus credits to receive a free and discounted laptop for college.

University of Minnesota Crookston

It’s one of the least expensive online colleges that offer free laptops with a long battery life and connectivity accessories. You can choose from a wide variety of degrees at Minnesota-Crookston, including:

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Criminal Justice
  • English
  • Sport and Recreation Management

Average Undergraduate Tuition Per Year: $11,478

2. Seton Hall University

College students at Seton Hall can participate in the Mobile Computing Program, which provides free laptops for college. The school doesn’t just offer free laptops for your school years. Students receive the laptop before the start of the fall semester of freshman year. 

Seton Hall University

You get to keep the laptop if you graduate from Seton Hall. The school does have a wide selection of master’s degrees and certificates for incoming students that can be completed remotely. This includes:

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Master of Arts in School Counseling
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Science in Accounting
  • Master of Healthcare Administration

Average Undergraduate Tuition Per Year: $48,670

3. American National University

The American National University’s distance education program offers a loan laptop program, especially for Business and Administration students. Students receive a free HP laptop upon enrollment, which can be kept while enrolled.

American National University

While there are no specific courses required to be eligible for the program, there are several courses you can choose to study:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Medical health services
  • Nursing
  • Paralegal
  • Network administration

Average Undergraduate Tuition Per Year: $14,342

4. Oklahoma Christian University

To equip you with the necessary technology, OCU offers a transfer of ownership program that makes you the owner of your school-issued MacBook, the best laptop for online college for most students.

Oklahoma Christian University

OCU offers various programs accessible on free laptops. Aside from an RN to BSN program, you’re also eligible for this program if you get degrees and certification programs in:

  • Teaching
  • Computer Science
  • Theology
  • Education
  • Human Sciences

Average Undergraduate Tuition Per Year: $24,550

5. Chatham University

Chatham University has a 1:1 undergraduate program that puts an Apple MacBook Air in the hands of incoming students. Depending on your number of credits, the school might also provide free laptops to transfer students – a MacBook or MacBook Air.

Chatham University

You get a free laptop and all the necessary add-ons to use it for educational purposes. Online students at Chatham can select from many different degree options, including:

  • Business Administration (Undergraduate or Graduate)
  • Psychology (Undergraduate)
  • RN to BSN
  • MBA
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice

Average Undergraduate Tuition Per Year: $42,250

6. University of Texas at San Antonio

The University of Texas at San Antonio offers discounted laptops and technology through its Campus Technology Store and HiEd Tech Store. Incoming first-year students can get a free Microsoft Surface Pro laptop after the first semester, and they can keep the device after completing 30 credit hours.

University of Texas at San Antonio

You’ll need to be a full-time freshman to avail yourself of this benefit from the student technology initiative. While there are no specific courses required, you can take advantage of the laptop as you study any of these programs approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges:

  • Liberal and Fine Arts
  • Engineering and Integrated Design
  • Sciences
  • Health, Community, and Policy
  • Education and Human Development
  • Business

Average Undergraduate Tuition Per Year: $11,592 (in-state) / $26,922 (out-of-state)

7. Northwest Missouri State University

Northwest Missouri State University is an extremely affordable option, with some of the lowest tuition rates of the schools on this list. Enrolling at Northwest Missouri State gives you a free and the latest HP laptop model.

Northwest Missouri State University

You get free textbooks in addition to your laptop, too. Your studies at Northwest can take advantage of such programs, including:

  • Business
  • Nursing
  • Education
  • Accounting
  • Psychology
  • Computer and Information Systems

Average Undergraduate Tuition Per Year: $12,726.60 (in-state); $20,779.20 (out-of-state)

8. Strayer University

Strayer University offers free laptops for students in a unique way. Just enroll in one of their online degrees and complete at least three-quarters of your studies. After that, the laptop for college is yours! The university doesn’t require you to do anything else to keep the free laptop for college.

Strayer University

This is a proprietary university with an A rating from Niche. Under the affordable connectivity program, some of the options you have to pursue using your free laptop include the following:

Average Undergraduate Tuition: $1,525 (per course)

9. California State University, Bakersfield

California State University in Bakersfield provides free loaner laptops through its Student Technology Equity Program (STEP). The program also includes access to Wi-Fi hotspots, connectivity resources, and other distance-learning materials.

California State University, Bakersfield

You must meet the financial aid requirements to qualify for a free Chromebook. There are no specific courses required, so you can choose from any of the following:

  • Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering
  • Social Sciences and Education
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Business and Public Administration

Average Undergraduate Tuition Per Year: $7,417 (in-state) / $17,617 (out-of-state)

10. University of Arkansas Grantham

According to Niche, the University of Arkansas in Grantham has a 4.5 out of 5-star rating. Part of the reason it’s highly reviewed is the low tuition costs. Military members pay just $250 per credit.

University of Arkansas Grantham

Incoming and qualifying students at the University of Arkansas Grantham receive a free Lenovo laptop for college. While at Grantham, you can study many different subjects:

  • Accounting
  • Computer Science
  • Strategic Communications
  • Criminal Justice
  • Health Systems Management

Average Undergraduate Tuition: $295 per credit and up

11. Dakota State University

Since 2004, Dakota State University’s Wireless Mobile Computing Initiative (WMCI) has given full-time first-year students a free laptop for college before the start of school in the fall. The laptops include licensed software, access to secure campus networks, replacement batteries, and warranty protection. There’s also an on-campus computer store for laptop repair services.

Dakota State University

You can use your new free laptop for college to study both common and unique degree programs. For example, you can choose to major in:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Cyber Leadership and Intelligence
  • Analytics
  • Professional Accountancy
  • Web Development

Average Undergraduate Tuition Per Year: $8,514 for off-campus studies

12. Indiana State University

Indiana State University has a Sycamore Technology Award. This program provides a free Microsoft Surface laptop to undergraduate and graduate students who are admitted to the university. It includes students eligible for Pell Grants as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Indiana State University

The university offers many online degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

  • Bachelor of Science in Marketing
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology
  • Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology
  • Master of Arts in History
  • Master of Science in Computer Science

Average Undergraduate Tuition Per Year: $9,712 (in-state); $12,626 (non-resident reduced rate); $21,454 (non-resident)

13. Full Sail University

Full Sail’s laptop program, Project LaunchBox, is one of the most unique free laptop programs offered in the country. The cost of the LaunchBox is included in tuition, so the free laptop for college is yours to keep, whether you pay for school out of pocket or with loans, scholarship money, or other types of funding.

Full Sail University

FSU is in the top 100 colleges for design in the United States. You can choose from the following degrees to be eligible for the laptop loaner programs:

  • 3-D Arts
  • Computer Science
  • Graphic Design
  • Web Development
  • Sports Marketing & Media

Average Undergraduate Tuition: From $604 per credit

Online Colleges That Offer Laptops at a Reduced Price

14. Wake Forest University

Wake Forest University is U.S. News & World Report’s 47th-best national university. Part of this high ranking is its WakeWare program, which gives undergraduate students discounts on laptops with long battery life. 

Wake Forest University

The program also includes extended insurance and warranties. This means you get new, high-powered laptops with a four-year warranty and accidental damage protection. These discounted laptops are ideal for these online graduate degrees online.

Average Undergraduate Tuition Per Year: $64,758 (including student fees)

15. Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma State University offers discounts on laptops and related gear through its OrangeTech program. This program provides incoming students with discounted laptops customized to their major. What’s more, you can get steep discounts on related gear, like tablets, audio equipment, cables, and even desktop computers.

Oklahoma State University

As a land-grant university, many of OSU’s programs focus on agriculture, aerospace, human and animal health, and sustainability. Many graduate degree programs are also available, including those in the following areas:

  • Aging Studies
  • Dietetics
  • Management Information Systems
  • Forensic Sciences
  • Teaching, Learning, and Leadership

Average Undergraduate Tuition Per Year: $13,920 (in-state, includes fees); $29,440 (out-of-state, includes fees)

16. Drexel University

Drexel is a large, private university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It’s a large school with more than 22,000 students worldwide and one of the best online schools that provides laptops.

Drexel University

To help online students like you be successful, Drexel University offers discounts on laptops and desktop computer accessories. These discounted laptops apply to multiple vendors, like Dell, Lenovo, and Apple. The program applies to bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs like:

  • Engineering
  • Business
  • Education
  • Technology
  • Public Health
  • Computer Science
  • Communication
  • Psychology

Average Undergraduate Tuition Per Year: $58,293

17. Eastern Kentucky University

No matter what your degree path might be, as an Eastern Kentucky University student, you can take advantage of educational pricing from a number of retailers. This includes the Barnes & Noble store at EKU, Apple, Academic Superstore, and JourneyEd.

Eastern Kentucky University

As part of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, EKU offers nearly 30 online undergraduate degrees, more than a dozen online master’s degrees, and three doctoral degrees online. You can get a degree in any of the following:

  • Political Science
  • Sports Management
  • Psychology
  • Social Work
  • Public Administration

Average Undergraduate Tuition Per Year: $434 per credit hour

18. St. John’s University

You can save money on a school laptop through the St. John’s University Academic Initiative. This program provides undergraduate students with discounted laptops from Lenovo and Apple. Discounts apply to laptops as well as to accessories.

St. John's University

St. John’s lists the specific machine requirements for its programs to ensure you get a laptop that’s powerful enough. You can choose from many different online courses at St. John’s:

  • Marketing
  • Business Administration
  • Accounting
  • Actuarial Science
  • Library and Information Science

Average Undergraduate Tuition Per Year: $48,500

19. Villanova University

Villanova University offers discount prices for products from Dell and Apple. The savings you get from a reduced-priced laptop can pay for other accessories, like a mouse, external keyboard, external monitor, and so forth.

Villanova University

Villanova has a good reputation, too. US News & World Report ranks the university 67th among the top national universities. Niche also gives Villanova high marks: an A+ for academics and an A for value. You can use discounted laptops to study these various online degree programs:

  • General Studies
  • Organizational Development and Management
  • Public Service and Administration

Average Undergraduate Tuition Per Year: $63,806

20. Southern Nazarene University

Southern Nazarene University has a partnership with Dell to offer discounted laptops to students who need the latest technology, including the newest operating system. You can also apply these savings toward making other needed purchases, like computer accessories or textbooks.

Southern Nazarene University

Studying at Southern Nazarene can open your horizons to many different disciplines. You can choose to major in any of the following:

  • Business Administration
  • Cybersecurity
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Teaching
  • Counseling Psychology

Average Undergraduate Tuition: $325 per credit and up

21. Park University

Park University offers discounts on laptops and campus-wide computer access. You can also get discounted software to go along with your computer. Discounted laptops are available from a number of vendors, including Dell, CDW, and ThinkEDU.

Park University college laptop programs

Park University is a private, non-profit, liberal arts college located in Parkville, Missouri. No matter if you want to pursue a degree in education, public relations, or logistics, Park has what you need. Other options include:

  • Information Systems and Business Analytics
  • Healthcare Administration
  • English and Professional Writing
  • Criminal Justice Administration
  • Sociology

Average Undergraduate Tuition: $15,500

22. Amridge University

Amridge offers discounted laptops – Chromebooks, to be specific, which you will use to complete assignments and log on to Canvas, the school’s online education portal. As a partner institution, Amridge offers a free one-year warranty service agreement and a free copy of Microsoft Office 365.

Ambridge University reduced price laptops for college students

Though Amridge is located in Alabama, its online program offerings, approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, enable you to advance your education from anywhere in the world. You can use your laptop to study a variety of subjects at Amridge. Options include the following:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Human Development
  • Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Divinity
  • Interdisciplinary Studies

Average Undergraduate Tuition: $395 per credit

Ways to Get a Free Laptop from a School or Educational Institution

Many accredited online colleges offer free laptops and other perks. While policies vary between schools, standard perks include technology discounts, IT assistance, and free or discounted software. Some ways to obtain free laptops include:

Whiteboard, glasses, washable pen and a laptop placed on the table
  • School partnerships: Colleges may partner with stores and companies to offer discounted laptops or free devices.
  • Student discounts: Various educational institutions offer student discounts on laptops and other related devices.
  • Bundled fees: Costs may be rolled into student fees.
  • Eligibility requirements: Full-time enrollment or first-year student status may be required.
  • Graduation or credit milestones: Ownership often transfers after graduating or earning enough credits.
  • Withdrawal policies: Withdrawing may require a laptop return or purchase.

See Also: Top Accredited Online Colleges Without an Application Fee

Advantages of Free or Laptop Loaner Programs From an Online School

Providing free or discounted laptops has become increasingly popular for colleges and universities. Such programs can help recruit students with the lure of saving several hundred (or thousands) dollars on necessary technology for school. Additionally, it benefits colleges and universities by providing students with the appropriate tools to succeed.

  • Help colleges and universities utilize their technologies as opposed to retiring them
  • Availability of free Microsoft software
  • Free repair services
  • Free or discounted professional creative software
  • Access to reliable technology
  • Tech support for common issues (e.g., internet connectivity, operating system issues)
  • Bridge the digital divide, allowing low-income students access to modern technologies that they might not otherwise be able to afford
  • Improve digital literacy and the ability to conduct research for classes using online resources
  • Submit materials for class assignments in a timely fashion

Jerome L. Rekart, Ph.D., who was the Vice President of Research and Insights at Southern New Hampshire University, shares his insights on the most significant advantage of attending a university that provides a laptop: 

“The biggest advantage of going to a college that offers access to free laptops is the cost savings. Not only will you not need to worry about whether or not you’ll be able to access your course materials, you also won’t need to worry about whether your machine is compatible with the school, which will save you the money you’d need to spend to stay current and the hassle of having to spend time finding the right person to help you get your personal machine up-to-date.”

See Also: Cheapest Online Business Degree Programs for Undergrads

Free Laptop Program Caveats

Most laptop programs offered come with some sort of requirement, though. A school or education institution may have limitations, and an offer may not explicitly guarantee discounted laptops or a free laptop offer.

Woman putting her laptop inside a bag

When asked about mistakes students might make with laptop programs, Dr. Jerome Rekart goes on to share,

“The biggest mistake would be to assume that it is the same as your “personal” laptop. The fine print with the institution may indicate that the machine is still theirs, which means you should be hesitant about the websites you visit and what you do with the machine. 

For example, if you do online shopping with your machine, it could end up storing your credit card number – not because anyone wants to steal it, but because that is what commonly happens with browsers. The issue when you return the [laptop] is that you may have information, like credit card numbers, stored in places that you wouldn’t think to look.”

In some cases, you have to complete a certain number of courses to retain your laptop. You may also have to fill out certain paperwork with the university’s financial aid office or be granted specific financial aid packages to qualify.

  • Some programs are only available for high school students entering their first year of college.
  • You might not be eligible for free or low-cost laptops if you transfer or are a graduate student.
  • Other free loaner laptops might be reserved for specific groups, such as military veterans, disabled veterans, or students who require technology assistance.

Student Technology Policies for Free and Discounted Laptop Programs Offered

Even the most affordable colleges online will need their students to have computer access and a strong internet connection. Check out these policies for free laptops.

  • Schools may mail technology packages with laptops and software before classes start or provide them on campus. Some transfer full laptop ownership after students earn enough credits, often in the first one to four semesters.
  • Borrowed laptops often limit downloads and upgrades. However, college tech perks may include IT support for device maintenance.
  • Many programs offer laptops with warranties or insurance, even on discounted laptops. However, students may have to pay for lost or damaged laptops.
  • Free laptops are sometimes only for first-year or transfer students. You usually must reach credit milestones or graduate before owning the laptop.

Things to Consider for Free Laptop Programs Offered

Consider how you plan to use the laptop and check with prospective online schools about required programs and applications when choosing a device for online college. Technical requirements vary by major.

  • Connectivity: At least dual-band WiFi (5GHz, 802.11a/ac).
  • RAM/Processing: 8GB RAM or more for fast performance.
  • Platform: Windows or Mac, depending on preferences and needs.
  • Storage: 256-512GB SSD storage is adequate for most
  • Battery life: Aim for at least six hours of battery life.
  • Size: Choose anywhere between 11 to 17 inches.

See Also: Laptop Tips and Tricks for Online College Students

Best Laptop Models for Online College Students

There’s a chance you won’t get to choose the model you prefer, especially on free loaner laptops from a school or educational institution. Despite that, it’s good to know the features of the top laptop models so you can get an idea of the ideal laptop specs for college education.

Laptop ModelStorageDisplayBattery LifeConnectivity
Apple MacBook Air M1256GB-2TB SSD13.3-inch RetinaUp to 18 hoursWi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2128GB-256GB SSD12.4-inch TouchscreenUp to 13.5 hoursWi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1
Asus Chromebook Flip CX5256GB-512GB SSD15.6-inch TouchscreenUp to 12 hoursWi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
HP Envy 13256GB-2TB SSD13.3-inch IPSUp to 16.5 hoursWi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0

The problem is that laptops can be extremely expensive. Laptopmag notes that one of the best MacBooks – the MacBook Air M1- is “cheap” at $999, though lower prices are commonly found for an older MacBook Air.

Methodology for Ranking Free or Discounted Laptop Programs

To locate online colleges that provide laptops, we filtered out online education providers on the NCES College Navigator. Next, we narrowed down the list based on the availability of valuable technology initiatives. Each online school on this list has to:

Woman using a laptop
  • Provide two or more online college degree options
  • Reduce the cost of the laptop or provide discounted laptops
  • Be accredited by CHEA-recognized agencies

See also: Top Accredited Online Colleges with Low Tuition

Frequently Asked Questions

What Nonprofit Organizations Provide Free Laptops for College Students?

Computers with Causes, Laptops 4 Learning, and PCs for People are organizations that provide laptops to most students in need. While nonprofit organizations reserve their services for low-income families, they might be able to connect you with discounted laptops.

Are Refurbished Laptops a Good Option?

While refurbished laptops might have battery life issues, refurbishment brings the laptop back to factory specifications. Refurbished computers often come from a school’s information technology department, so you can rely on their expertise to ensure the desktop computer is in good working order.

Are Free Laptops for College Tied to Financial Aid?

In many cases, various educational institutions offer free laptops to students who meet the program’s requirements, like residency, enrollment status, or academic performance. Other scholarship programs, like the Dell Scholars Program, provide scholarship money for students to overcome academic challenges.

Who Can Get Free or Discounted Laptops?

One free laptop program might vary from the next program and have different eligibility requirements. Most free laptops for college require you to be a first-time, first-year student. In some cases, you might have to be at least a part-time student to get a free or discounted laptop.

Why Is Having a Laptop for College So Important?

A laptop is necessary for daily college tasks like taking notes, conducting research, and writing papers. Your laptop is also your connection to online resources like the university library and your school’s online learning platform. Having computer access will assist you in honing important skills that are applicable in everyday life and work.

What Kind of Free Laptops Are Available for College Students?

By and large, colleges and universities offer basic free laptops to students, including entry-level laptops from companies like Lenovo, Dell, and HP. Discounted laptops or Chromebooks are another popular option for free laptops.

See Also: Easiest Accredited Online College Programs for Undergrads

Conclusion

Online colleges that offer laptops remove a significant barrier to education for those without the means to purchase computers. Even discounted laptops facilitate coursework completion and expand access to online resources and tutorials. Accredited online colleges that provide laptops empower more students to earn degrees and improve their career opportunities.