Best Online Colleges That Offer Free Laptops

Some online schools offer free laptops for college while others give enrollees discounts or other technology perks.

Updated November 15, 2023 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Having a laptop can make school easier for college students, but not everyone can afford them. Here, we outline online colleges that offer laptops in 2023, as well as how to choose a laptop.

Free Laptops for College Students

Online students need a reliable computer. With a laptop, students can complete their coursework from anywhere with Wi-Fi.

Some schools offer laptop loaner programs. Participants can check out laptops for the weekend or longer. Other schools give enrollees a discounted laptop for college. Schools may include laptop costs in tuition and fees, which allows students to use financial aid funds to buy a laptop.

Some schools help enrollees by providing a free laptop for college. Learners can save money by researching online colleges that offer laptops in 2023.

Laptop Necessity for Online Learning

Technology spending far exceeded spending on other course materials in 2021-22, according to the National Association of College Stores. Many schools understand the burden students face when they cannot access campus computers but do not have money to buy a laptop. Some of these schools provide free laptops for college students. Others feature laptop loaner programs to help address this need.

Providing for students' technology needs reduces stress for learners and improves their performance. High-achieving students benefit schools' educational effectiveness and reputations. Online colleges that offer laptops in 2023 prepare enrollees to succeed in their programs.

Where Can I Get a Free Laptop for College?

The list below includes some online colleges that offer laptops in 2023. Each school features different guidelines. Students should carefully review eligibility criteria and contract terms.

Some schools loan laptops until graduation. Then, students own the laptop. Learners who withdraw from these schools may need to return or buy their laptops. Some schools offer a completely free laptop for college. Others charge technology fees to cover the cost.

  • Dakota State University

    DSU has provided new laptops to full-time, first-year students since 2004. DSU configures these Fujitsu T Series laptops to accommodate DSU academic programs. The laptops include licensed software and provide access to secure campus networks. They also include replacement batteries and warranty protection. Students can access an on-campus helpdesk and laptop repair services.

    Once DSU enrollees reach 59 credits, they can buy their laptops at market value or opt-out of the program. Learners who choose to use their own computers need comparable devices.

  • Full Sail University

    Full Sail gives enrollees an Apple MacBook Pro through Apple's Project LaunchBox. Students pursuing software development, game development, or simulation and visualization degrees receive HP laptops. Specific software and hardware vary by program.

  • Moravian University

    Moravian provides all incoming students with MacBook Pro laptops and iPads. IT staff help learners set up these devices. The MacBook features a pre-installed app that allows users to download software and access campus resources. Software options include Office 365, Adobe Creative Cloud, and signature Apple software.

    AppleCare+ warranties cover hardware and software. However, accidental damage is not covered. Moravian's IT help desk provides technical troubleshooting.

  • University of Minnesota Crookston

    UMC has given laptops to on-campus students and faculty since 1993. The school provides 14-inch HP Elitebooks that can function in laptop or tablet mode.UMC's Campus Notebook Program issues laptops to new and returning students at the start of each semester. Enrollees must return these university-owned laptops if they withdraw. Students who do not return these laptops incur fees for six weeks. They then receive a bill for the market value, plus late fees.

  • Wake Forest University

    Wake Forest enrollees can buy a discounted laptop through the WakeWare program.Financial aid recipients qualify for a technology grant that covers standard WakeWare laptop costs. Laptops include free academic software, including Office 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud. These laptops also feature extended four-year warranties and insurance, including accidental damage protection.

    Students who bring personal computers must ensure their devices meet minimum configuration requirements.

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Laptop

Learners should consider many factors when choosing a laptop for college. Start by listing how you plan to use the device. Check with your prospective schools about the programs and applications you may need.

Technical requirements vary by major. Computer-related majors usually need more powerful central processing units (CPUs). Read on for some considerations when choosing a laptop.

  1. 1


    Laptop prices vary widely. Your budget may influence your device choice. Learners on a budget should avoid buying expensive devices unless they need advanced features.

    Students may find Apple devices more user-friendly and long-lasting. However, MacBooks can cost more than other laptops. Take time to compare prices. Explore used-device options. You can also consider applying to online colleges that offer laptops in 2023.

  2. 2

    Processor and RAM

    Students in non-computer-related majors may only need their laptops for basic tasks. For example, they may only use their laptop for word processing or running their schools' academic software. These enrollees do not need laptops with the best CPUs.

    Computers' Random Access Memory (RAM) stores recently used data to allow faster access to that information later. Laptops with over 10 gigabytes (GBs) of RAM work quickly. Laptops with fewer than eight GBs of RAM may operate slower.

  3. 3


    Computers also contain long-term memory. This allows users to store data they do not need to access often. Data lives on hard disk drives, solid-state drives (SSDs), or hybrid drives. SSD storage allows faster access and start-up. Users often find these computers more durable and reliable because they lack moving parts.

    College students in many majors get by with 256GB-512GB storage. However, art, engineering, and computer science majors work with large file sizes and may need one terabyte of storage. Some devices allow learners to upgrade their storage when necessary.

  4. 4

    Battery Life

    Laptop life varies. Laptop size influences battery life. Mid-size and larger laptops may only last 4-6 hours. Batteries on smaller-screen or lighter laptops often last up to 10 hours because they use lower-voltage processors.

    Students should research battery life by reading online reviews. They can also review manufacturers' websites.

  5. 5


    Most laptops are 11-17 inches. Size affects price, battery life, and mobility. Smaller-screen laptops often cost and weigh less. This makes them easier to afford and transport. Smaller laptops' batteries may also last longer than larger devices' batteries. Many students buy mid-size laptops with 15-inch screens.

    Larger laptops feature more power. They work better for computer majors or art majors. Video editors and gamers may also benefit from a 17-inch laptop with high processing power.

What are the Best Laptops for Online College Students?
Laptop Type Laptop Model
Best Macbook Macbook Air M1
Best Windows Laptop HP Envy 13
Best Budget Laptop Acer Aspire 5
Best 2-in-1 Laptop Microsoft Surface Pro 7
Best Chromebook Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook

Other Programs for Free or Low-Cost College Laptops

Not able to get a laptop through school? Don't worry. Educational nonprofits, programs, and scholarships provide free or low-cost laptops to students in need.

  • Dell Scholars Program

    The Dell Scholars Program awards 500 incoming first-year students a $20,000 scholarship, a free laptop, and textbook credits. Students must have a minimum 2.4 GPA in high school and be Pell Grant eligible to qualify.

  • PCs for People

    PCs for People sell discounted laptops and desktop computers for low-income families and students in need. The laptops and computers, which are refurbished and include brands like Dell, HP, and Lenovo, cost between $135-$185.

  • Laptops 4 Learning

    The Laptops 4 Learning (L4L) program allows low-income students to sign up for donations from family, friends, and community members. Once students receive enough donations, they get a free computer. L4L also sells discounted laptops with a one-year warranty, starting at $145.

  • Affordable Connectivity Program

    Having problems getting a laptop and access to the internet? The Affordable Connectivity Program offers discounts for computers and internet service. Eligible households get a discount of $100 off a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet and $30 per month for internet service.

  • FAFSA and Pell Grants

    Students can use financial aid and grants to cover the cost of a laptop. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid and Federal Pell Grant covers tuition and fees. If money is left over, students get a refund check for things they need for school — known as qualifying expenses — such as a laptop.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Colleges Offering Laptops

  • When do you receive laptops for school?

    Many schools give students free laptops as part of enrollment or bundle them into the cost of tuition. Some have eligibility requirements, such as being full-time or living on campus. Check with your school to make sure.

  • Do students get to keep the laptop after graduation?

    Yes. Some schools let students keep their laptops after graduation. But others ask students to give their laptops back. Ask your school to find out the rules.

  • What if the laptop is damaged or stolen?

    Students may have to pay a fee if their laptop is damaged. Some schools may replace stolen laptops if you file a police report and let the school know what happened.

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