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The Often Overlooked Student Discount and How to Cash In
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By Joel Milani
Published on July 20, 2010
Learn how to take advantage of thousands of dollars in student discount savings on everything from computers to plane tickers.

The Often Overlooked Student Discount and How to Cash In

It’s not until you begin the college application process that the reality of how much school costs starts to sink in. It begins with standardized testing fees, then continues with college application fees, admission deposits, tuition, books, supplies and living expenses. Add the fact that working full-time while at school is almost impossible, and you begin to get the sense that education is a truly massive investment.

As the expenses start to add up, it becomes painfully clear that when you’re a student, every bit of financial relief is a huge help. Businesses realize that you don’t have much money, and, unmotivated by profit or greed, will often lower prices in an act of pure compassion and generosity. It’s called the student discount, and while it’s not quite pure selflessness, it’s at very least mutually beneficial; student discounts can save you thousands of dollars, if you know where to look. Here are some of the more valuable student discounts, with links to each company’s student discount page where available.


This is the big one. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 18.2 million students enrolled in college in 2007—those students need computers, and those computers need software. Not surprisingly, the technology industry has instituted generous student discounts in order to compete for that huge piece of the market. Here are a few:

  • Apple offers student discounts on many of its products including accessories, software, the Applecare Protection Plan and, of course, computers. Discounts on computers range from $50 to $200.
  • Dell offers student discounts of up to 30% on laptops and desktops.
  • HP provides students and educators with discounts of up to $250 on personal computers.
  • Microsoft discounts heavily on its widely used MS Office suite. The site boasts a 91% discount, bringing the software package down to a manageable $59.95. They also offer Windows 7 Professional for $64.95.
  • Adobe arguably offers one of the best education discounts available. Teachers and students can buy the Creative Suite software packages for as little as 20% of retail cost. The savings can amount to as much as $1700 off of the CS 5 Master Collection. Adobe nailed the ‘hook ‘em while they’re young’ business model, introducing future graphic designers and photographers to software that they would eventually base careers around. But any qualms with Adobe’s youth-targeted marking strategy can easily be forgiven, both for the piles of money students can to save on Adobe’s products, and for the generally recognized superiority of Adobe’s software that has, for good reason, become a digital media industry standard. Take advantage of this if you can, it’s a hell of a deal.

Everything Else

A few other places you may not have thought to look for student discounts:

The list goes on, and includes everything from amusement park tickets to car insurance (although the latter is usually grade-based). The point is to use the fact that you’re a student to your advantage, and ask about student discounts when making moderate to large purchases. Informal student discounts exist as well. For example, while buying a used car, “I’m a college student and would like to buy this car from you.” is code for “I’m poor, but have character, ambition, and maybe even panache.  .  .could you knock a few bucks off?” I’ve seen it work. People will often give you a deal because they were a college student once as well, or have kids in college, and understand your dire financial situation. I’m not suggesting that you strut around all entitled and obnoxious, shaking down Best Buy employees for an extra $10 off an LCD TV—but it never hurts to ask.