Online Colleges That Provide Laptop Perks

Danika Miller
Updated April 19, 2024
Edited by
Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

Take our quiz and we'll do the homework for you! Compare your school matches and apply to your top choice today.

Person in college

Disclosure: This webpage may mention the possibility of free laptop programs offered by various educational institutions. However, please note that the inclusion of any school on this page does not guarantee or imply a free laptop offer. The availability and terms of free laptop programs are subject to change and may vary between institutions. For the most accurate information, please consult with schools directly.

A laptop is an essential requirement for online college students. However, the associated cost can be an obstacle for some learners.

Several national surveys from 2020 revealed that 16%-19% of college students reported inadequate technology, including laptops and internet connectivity. Computers can cost more than $1,000, which may not fit into every student’s budget.

Fortunately, some colleges address this need by helping students get free or discounted laptops. The following top online schools provide some of the best computer tech perks. Additionally, we highlight some of the best budget-friendly laptops for students.

Did You Know…

  • A 2018 survey at a large Midwestern university found 20% of students did not have reliable access to functional laptops or tablets.
  • A 2020 study found that 11% of students missed a remote class because of technology issues, 10% had a device that couldn’t perform the required tasks for class, and 8% missed an assignment deadline because they couldn’t access their computer or their computer wasn’t working.
  • About 72% of students try to resolve technology issues themselves instead of turning to IT/tech support.

Colleges That Offer Free or Discounted Tech

Many accredited colleges and universities offer technology services for online students. These services can include downloadable academic software and a virtual IT helpdesk. Certain majors may also receive special devices and software.

Eligibility criteria and program rules vary by school. Make sure to review your college’s technology policies and programs.

Explore the list below to learn more about accredited online colleges that offer free or discounted laptops and other technology perks for students.

1. Ohio State University

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Policy: Loaned iPad and Microsoft Surface
  • Eligibility: Available to enrolled students with no technology fees outstanding

Ohio State University’s (OSU) Office of Technology and Digital Innovation runs the Student Technology Loan Program. As an OSU enrollee, you can receive a loaned iPad and/or Microsoft Surface for a semester or longer.

You must return or renew the loaned device at the end of the semester, and you need to be enrolled in the following semester to renew, including summer classes for summer loans. The loaners include various accessories, including cases, charging cables, and styluses or Apple pencils.

2. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Policy: Loaned laptops or desktops
  • Eligibility: Available to current liberal arts and sciences undergraduates

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) ensures all liberal arts and science undergraduates can access technology with the ATLAS Share program. If you don’t have a computer, you can take out a laptop or desktop computer with a long-term loan.

All loaned computers include the required components and campus software, plus antivirus applications. You can also receive hardware support for as long as you have the device.

3. Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Policy: Loaned Windows 10 laptops and AT&T hotspots
  • Eligibility: Available to Georgia Tech students, staff, faculty, and researchers

Through the Georgia Institute of Technology’s (Georgia Tech) Technology Equipment Loan Program, you can receive a loaned Windows 10 laptop or AT&T hotspot for internet access. Each device comes with Microsoft Office, Google Chrome, Firefox, and Adobe Acrobat.

With no loan time limits, you can keep the device until you no longer need it or attend Georgia Tech. The school can even ship the loaned devices to your home.

4. San Diego State University

  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission
  • Policy: Loaned MacBook Pros, Dell Windows laptops, iPads, and Chromebooks
  • Eligibility: Available to current students

You can borrow various types of equipment from the circulation desk at San Diego State University (SDSU), including MacBook Pros, Dell Windows laptops, iPads, and Chromebooks. The loans last until the end of the semester.

SDSU loans operate on a first-come, first-served basis. The school also loans accessories, such as chargers, webcams, headsets, and external storage devices. Some of the accessories have a maximum loan time of seven days.

5. Indiana University Bloomington

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Policy: Loaned Windows-based laptops
  • Eligibility: Available to current students

The Indiana University Bloomington (IUB) Laptop Loaner Program, offered through the Student Care and Resource Center, rents devices for up to one full semester. If you need the device longer, the school will review your case and request.

The limited supply of available devices varies, but they all run Windows-based applications. You are responsible for your storage device and will be assessed a replacement fee for damaged or misplaced items.

How Do Student Technology Policies Work at Online Colleges?

Technology is essential for online college, as most programs require a fast internet connection and a computer. If you plan to take advantage of a free laptop program, there are a few policies you need to understand.

  1. 1

    Getting a Laptop

    Some accredited online schools mail technology packages before classes begin. These packages typically contain laptops and required software licenses. In-person programs may provide free college laptops when you arrive on campus. Some institutions transfer permanent laptop ownership to enrollees once they earn a certain number of credits.

  2. 2

    Software and Hardware Updates

    Many accredited schools with laptop loaner programs don’t allow you to download media on your borrowed device. You also usually can’t upgrade the hardware or software on your own, meaning you must work with the campus information technology department to perform updates.

  3. 3

    Damages and Theft

    Many college tech perk programs include warranties or insurance for school-provided devices. These protections typically include IT assistance with hardware or software malfunctions. While some schools include damage and theft protection, others require students who lose or break their devices to pay for them.

  4. 4

    Student Status

    Some accredited online colleges only provide technology packages to first-year enrollees. Depending on the institution, transfer students can also qualify for free college laptop programs, but this is less common.

What Are the Best Laptops for College?

The best laptops for college have updated software capabilities, include embedded webcams and microphones, and are budget-friendly. Manufacturers and retailers may offer student discount pricing, so investigate these options to save as much money as you can.

Here are four of the best college laptops for online students.

Note: Prices are accurate as of April 2024. Costs may fluctuate.

Best Laptops for College
ModelApple MacBook Air M3HP Envy x360Acer Chromebook Spin 714Microsoft Surface Pro 9
Standard FeaturesFast performance, lightweight, long battery life, MacOSTouchscreen, backlit keyboard, Windows 2-in-1 laptopChrome OS, touchscreen, touchpadFast performance, Windows 2-in-1 laptop
Weight2.7 lbs4.04 lbs3.0 lbs1.95 lbs
Storage256 GB256 GB256 GB256 GB
Display13.6 inches15.6 inches14 inches13 inches
Battery Life18 hours12 hours12.5 hours15.5 hours
Ports2 Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, headphone jack2 USB-A, 2 USB-C, 1 HDMI, headphone jack1 USB-A, 2 Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, 1 HDMI, headphone jack2 Thunderbolt 4 USB-C

Frequently Asked Questions About Laptops for College

Do online colleges give you a laptop?

Some online colleges offer free laptops. Schools may stipulate you must enroll full time to qualify for these programs. Some institutions include the cost of the laptop as part of your tuition’s technology fee.

What should I consider when choosing a laptop for college?

Consider your course requirements and how you need to use your laptop. For instance, a highly affordable Chromebook may offer what you need for writing and streaming lectures. On the other hand, you may need more powerful hardware to run resource-intensive software for fields like computer science or engineering.

Can you buy a laptop with scholarship money or financial aid?

Some scholarships and financial aid packages allow you to apply funds toward a laptop, while others provide a specific stipend reserved for laptops and other school expenses. Check with your financial aid officer regarding the use of specific scholarship funds.

Does the FAFSA include laptops for college?

FAFSA lets you use federal funds to buy a laptop. You can also spend them on other educational expenses, such as textbooks, supplies, room and board, transportation, and childcare.

Next Steps

Shape your future with an online degree

Connect with a community of peers, and find a program that will allow you to continue your education in a fast and flexible way.