How to Score the Best Student Laptop Deals This School Year

A laptop is indispensable when you’re a student. It’s your portable option for everything from note taking to research to writing papers. It’s essential to purchase a reliable laptop that you can afford for the new school year, particularly if your old laptop isn’t working the way it should.

At Addition Financial, we love helping students of any age. We’ve put our heads together to create this guide to scoring the best student laptop deals for this school year, including tips on which features to prioritize, which affordable laptops are reliable and how to find and use student discounts for your laptop purchase. Here’s what you need to know.

What Are the Essential Features of Student Laptops?

Let’s start by reviewing the most important features for a student laptop. Many students prefer to have a laptop for taking notes in lectures and for working in the library. Here are the features you should look for before you seek out the best student laptop deals:

  1. 8 GB+ of RAM
  2. A 12.5-14” screen (Some students may prefer something larger.)
  3. Core i5 or Ryzen 5 CPU
  4. SSD storage (solid state drive) instead of a hard drive
  5. Portability (You want a laptop that’s lightweight and won’t weigh you down.)
  6. Long battery life, at least nine hours

Remember, you’re going to be walking all over campus with your laptop. You want something that’s lightweight and won’t need to be constantly plugged in. 

Some students may prefer a convertible laptop that can be used as a tablet, too. Those tend to be more expensive than a traditional laptop, so the features you choose will be at least partly dependent on your budget.

Which Affordable Laptops Are Best for Students?

When you’re a student, you likely have a limited budget and you may not have a lot of money to spend on a new laptop. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a lot to get a laptop that will meet your needs. Here are a few options to consider if you need a new laptop and have a limited budget.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go/Microsoft Surface Go 3

The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go weighs just under two and a half pounds and has a 12.4” display. That’s on the small side, but if you opt for the version with a 128 GB solid state drive, you should have enough computing power to handle any college assignment that comes your way. Students who prefer a laptop/tablet hybrid should opt for the Surface Go 3.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook

Chromebooks are some of the most affordable laptops around. We like them because they provide students with easy access to Google’s entire suite of office tools, including Google Docs, Google Sheets and more. You can score a Chromebook for less than $500 if you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles.

Acer Swift 3

Acer is a reliable brand and if you’re someone who prefers a Windows-based computer, this could be the right choice for you. You can get the Swift 3 with up to a one terabyte solid state drive, which will provide all the storage you need for your assignments and anything else you might want to do with your computer, including downloading your favorite shows from Netflix.

Asus VivoBook 17

Anybody who prefers a laptop with a large screen that can serve as a desktop replacement should consider the Asus VivoBook 17. Asus is an affordable brand. This laptop is ideal for students who work with graphics. However, we should note that PC Magazine said that this laptop’s battery life is not as long as it should be, so you’ll need to keep that in mind.

Apple MacBook Air

If you’re someone who swears by Apple products and you want a MacBook to go with your iPhone, then we suggest the Apple MacBook Air. Like all Apple products, it comes with a higher price than some of its competitors. However, this laptop earns its price with Apple’s new processor and what PC Magazine describes as an “exceptional battery life.” You can score a new MacBook Air for less than $1,000 if you purchase directly from Apple or at Best Buy.

When Are the Best Student Laptop Deals?

One of the questions that looms large for any college student on a budget (or their parents, for that matter) is when the best student laptop deals are available. It’s possible to find sales at any time of year, but here’s what you need to know about timing the purchase of your new student laptop.

It may not surprise you to learn that the best deals on student laptops are available from late July until early August, which is peak back-to-school sale season. Some retailers make special deals available that go beyond lower prices.

One example is Dell, which has a Black Friday in July sale for student laptops. In addition to scoring a new laptop at an affordable price, you can also get financing and 3% back if you join the Dell Rewards program. (You can use your 3% back toward other Dell products.)

Some of the other places you can find student laptop deals in July and August include the following:

  • Best Buy
  • Amazon Prime
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Staples
  • OfficeMax

You should also remember that some retailers have a price guarantee, so it makes sense to check prices in multiple stores before you buy.

back to school savings checklist

Can Financial Aid Pay for a Laptop?

If you have applied for financial aid with FAFSA, you may be wondering if any of your financial aid can be used to pay for a laptop.

The only time when it would be possible to pay for your laptop with FAFSA money would be if you received more aid than you need and your college issues you a refund check. In that case, you can use the refund check to pay for school necessities, including a laptop.

However, if you don’t have extra FAFSA money to pay for a laptop, there are other options that you can consider.

What Are Some Other Options to Get Money to Buy a Laptop?

One of the things that can make life easier as a student is that there are multiple ways to get the money you need to buy a laptop. Here are a few to consider.

#1: Increase the Amount of Your Student Loan

It might not be ideal to increase the amount of your student loan to buy a laptop, but it is an option if you’re short on cash. Student loan money may be used to purchase a laptop or computer as well as internet access and necessary software. 

If you opt to pay for your laptop with a student loan, you should buy a quality laptop with a solid state drive, excellent battery life and at least 8 GB of RAM. Provided you take care of it, a new laptop can last you until you graduate and beyond.

#2: Apply for a Laptop Scholarship

There are several places you can apply for a laptop scholarship:

Dell Scholars

Dell offers the Dell Scholars program, which selects 500 students per year and gives them the following things:

  • A $20,000 scholarship
  • A laptop with a 4-year warranty
  • $500 in annual book credits
  • Access to the Scholars Resource Network
  • Personalized, multi-faceted support to face life’s challenges
  • Access to teletherapy

You can view a full list of criteria and get information about applying to be a Dell Scholar here.

Laptops for Learning

Laptops for Learning is a non-profit organization that provides free laptops to students in need. They have already provided hundreds of laptops to qualifying students. You can learn more about their program and apply here.

Other Scholarship Sites

Here are a few sites where you can search for laptop scholarships:

#3: Choose a School That Provides Laptops to Students

A number of colleges and universities in the United States have programs to provide students with laptops. Some even give a free laptop to every student that attends. Here are some to consider:

There are some colleges that offer free laptops to scholarship recipients or provide discounts for students to buy laptops:

Whatever school you attend, it’s worthwhile to ask about discounts or scholarship programs that might help you cover the cost of a new laptop if you need to buy one.

Having a reliable laptop is a must for every college student. The tips, deals and scholarships we’ve included here can help you track down the best deal for you, so you can get a laptop that will serve you well throughout your college years.

Are you looking for a student checking account to help you manage your money in college? Addition Financial’s Aspire Checking is designed especially for college students. Click here to learn more and open an account today.

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