How to Get a Free Laptop for College

Whether you’re a doe-eyed high school senior getting ready for your first foray into college or a seasoned grad student, you’re probably asking yourself how to get a free laptop for college.

After all, the whole college experience is all about ramen dinners and saving money wherever you can, which is why we’ve compiled a list of various resources that you can use to get a laptop for little-to-no cost upfront.

Check With Your School

The first step in this process for anyone who’s entering higher education should be to check with the school to see if a laptop or tablet is included as a part of your tuition costs.

Many design and computer science degrees will automatically provide you with a laptop that’s made to suit the demands of your prospective career. While this isn’t technically a “free” laptop (it comes out of what you pay the school), it’s still a device that you can start using before the first day of class for no charge upfront.

Free Laptop for College
Laptops are an essential part of the learning process in the modern age.

There are also a number of online colleges that offer free laptops. Whether you qualify or not will depend on the major you plan to pursue (i.e – a sociology major probably won’t have as good of a chance as an engineer might), but either way there are still a number of options here that wouldn’t be available if you were attending a brick-and-mortar campus alone.

Other options here might include a discounted laptop program that the school offers up, or a laptop that’s given to you to use while you’re actually enrolled (as a loaner), but will need to be returned once you’ve earned your degree.

Apply for Educational Grants

If your school doesn’t offer any such program, your next step should be to start scouring the web for potential educational grants.

A good place to start on this front would be the Partners in Learning Grants, a program started by Microsoft which works with schools, educators, and students to get laptops in the hands of those who need them the most.

Your school also might provide their own educational grants to those who qualify. Upon enrollment, be sure to ask your class counselor if your specific institution has any “lease-to-own” programs, or contests that you can enter which might have a laptop as the first prize.

Use These Websites

If you don’t have a shop in your neighborhood, you can also check out your local chapter of Freecycle.org. Although it’s rare that a laptop (or anything with a value of $50 or more) would pop up, you never know what you might get if you happen to sign in on the right day!

Another site offering programs which help to get tech in the hands of the less fortunate is the On It Foundation. It’s important to note that this network is only open to children currently enrolled in K-12 education, so unfortunately if you’re an adult who’s going back to college, this won’t be an option for you.

The two last reliable sources of working computers and laptops are Computers With Causes and the Computer Technology Assistance Corps, which work to provide technology to families and kids who may not be able to afford one on their own. Keep in mind that in order to get a free laptop for low income families from either one of these organizations, you’ll need to submit your family’s tax returns which show they’re under a certain limit for the year (no more than $35K in the case of CTAC, for example).

Check Your Local Tech Shops

This option rounds out our list on the bottom because while it’s a choice if you’re really looking for a free college laptop, it may not be viable for anyone who lives in a more rural area. Higher density cities will usually have several tech shops run by hobbyists and locals, where old PCs and laptops are refurbished/resold for pennies on the dollar.

Here in Portland we have a shop called “Free Geek”, which will give you a laptop for “free” after volunteering a number of hours either working the counter or breaking down old PCs in the back. Programs like this are more unique than the rest, but still a viable way to get a free laptop if none of the other options above are possible for your particular situation.

Wrap Up

Look, there’s no getting around it: going to college is pricey these days, and saving money anywhere you can is a must for any student who’s eager to learn during their time on campus.

Luckily, there are a number of available programs, grants, local resources and more that can get a free laptop for college. Technology is an essential part of the learning process in our modern age, and no child or prospective student should be left without a viable way to get their hands on all the tools they’ll need to enter the job market prepared and ready for any challenges that life throws their way.

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Chris Stobing

Chris Stobing is a writer and blogger from the heart of Silicon Valley. Raised around tech from birth, he's had an interest in PC hardware and networking technology for years, and has come to Gadget Review to contribute his knowledge on both.

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11 Comments

  1. hi this is Joyce in pa. where can I get a free college computer for free or real real cheap need for classes . Going for biblical. Thank you for taking the time to read mine and God Bless.

  2. My name is ABDALJLIL BENOUDINA that I admire you and I am before I sent a message, but the reason for my mission is to know my address in the state: Algeria / Any: Ghardaia District: Marmad / Street: Bou Amer Mousa / Postal Code : 47009

  3. I am an architect from Syria and currently a refugee in the Netherlands. Unfortunately I lost everything I have because of the war in Syria and I need a laptop to learn the language and work and I do not have money for that …. Please help me and thank you.

  4. Hi my nama hamza elhayadI do not have enough money to buy a computer for study and I want to send my computer for free, I always be very happy if you send me any free sample anything. Thank you so much
    NAME:Hamza elhayad
    ADDRESS: rul abouzzite QU Tagabirte 2 NR12
    CITY:imintanout
    ZIP CODE:41050
    STATE:Marrakech-Safi
    COUNTRY:Morocco

    1. hi, hamza
      i would love to talk with you ill leave my email down below email me if your free
      we could talk about your laptop because i really need one,would be pleased if you do reply and email me thanks..

  5. Hello, my name is Liliana and I am in desperate need of help and any assistance available. I have been living at a battered women’s shelter with my three children. I have a very old laptop and have been using it for the past month with this new job. The only problem is that it’s missing 3 keys and extremely slow. I have patience but myschool requires deadlines and emails. It very demanding and I can longer use that laptop.  With this new courses, one of the requirements was for me to have my own computer but this one has gone out of commission. Is there such a place that will donate used or refurbished laptops? I am also disabled and I beg of you to please help me out. I don’t know where else to go or ask. I pray you will be able to help and if not then God bless you and I would greatly appreciate it if you could refer me to someone that can.
    I do have all necessary documents to prove my case above.

  6. I am a student who really needs a laptop or iPad. I go fulltime, I have no family, I am a single mom trying to keep a roof over my head so I’m going to school to get a career started. The problem, my financial aid didn’t even cover the cost of my books! I went this last semester suffering with nothing but my phone to do homework on. I was able to end the semester with all A’s and one B, but I think if I would have had a laptop I would have a 4.0 grade average, and I would have had so much more time so I could work a job with that extra time. I had to travel from library to library day after day to do homework because the longest I could use their computers was 1 hour. What should have taken me 3 hours took 12 hours plus to do because of this hassle. If anyone has knowledge of where I can get a laptop for free if I am a student please let me know, please. I can’t finish my classes without one.

    1. Brittany,

      Check in with local libraries or even your local community service groups. Offer some time for compensation for the device.

      Where you located at?

    2. Hello my name Shellonda I want to know how can I get a free laptop for college!!! I really do need one to do my work on it please tell me how can I get one

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