Where to get the best student discounts
A little research can go a long way toward stretching dollars during the college years. Here's where you can score some bargains.
With the fall semester just a little more than a month away, now is the time to take advantage of back-to-school deals for yourself or your college student. All deals, however, are not equal.
Computers and gadgets
Personal preference and brand loyalty play a role in most purchases of laptops, desktops, and tablets, but almost every big brand offers student discounts for those operating on a college budget.
Until September 6, students purchasing Apple’s iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac Pro will receive a $100 gift card. For purchases of the 4, 4S, and 5 model iPhone and the iPad 2, Mini, or current-gen iPad, students receive a $50 gift card.
Only college students may take advantage of these deals, but faculty, teachers, and staff at any grade level are also eligible.
Microsoft’s deals are accessible only with a .edu email address, but the variety here is far greater than Apple’s offerings. (Microsoft is the publisher of MSN Money.)
For touch-screen PCs and tablets from the likes of Hewlett-Packard, Sony, Dell, and more, students receive an $80 discount. Add in the $20 discount on the accompanying four-year subscription to Office 365 University and savings total $100.
The 49 applicable products range in price from $359 to $2,249, making the $100 savings from Microsoft a greater percentage discount than Apple's in some cases, and a lesser one in others.
Additionally, those with a .edu email address can redeem a code for 10% off a Surface RT, which could amount to $49.90, $59.90 or $69.90 depending on storage space and the inclusion of a cover. A 32GB Surface RT without a case will get knocked down to roughly $449, while a current-gen, Wi-Fi, 32GB iPad will run students $599 less the $50 Apple gift card received in return.
Lenovo’s Academic Purchase Program offers discounts of up to 35% on computers, and the Sony Education Store also offers up to 10% discounts on select cameras, PCs, and its Xperia Tablet Z.
Ultimately, there’s plenty of cash to be saved when it comes to stocking up on tech for the upcoming school year.
Cellphone providers tend to offer deals on a varying basis for partnering schools. If your school is partnered with a specific provider, cutting a couple of bucks off each monthly bill can certainly add up over time.
Sprint’s student discounts vary by school, but roughly 10% is discounted from monthly bills.
Verizon Wireless's student rate offers 8-10% off monthly charges and $35 back for new customers. At Vanderbilt, for example, a partnership with Verizon enables students to receive a 10% discount and employees to get a 20% discount on monthly bills.
T-Mobile offers a discount at a going rate of 6% at participating schools, while AT&T’s rates differ from campus to campus.
If you utilize a family plan, changing wireless providers for the student in the family in order to receive one of these discounts may not be worth the hassle. However, if you’ll be footing your personal phone bill while at school, verifying which companies your school is partnered with should only take a matter of minutes.
If you’ll be taking a car to school, or are shopping for one to bring on campus, there is also money to be saved.
General Motors offers hundreds or even thousands of dollars off select Chevy, Buick, and GMC vehicles for current students and recent graduates.
And when it comes time to insure your set of wheels, there are plenty of options to choose from.
If you’re confident in your academic abilities, maintaining at least a “B” average will get you up to 15% off from Geico, up to 20% from Allstate, up to 25% off from State Farm, and a reduction in costs from Travelers and Esurance.
Food and clothing
Everybody eats, and nobody does it better than college students.
At participating Subway, Chipotle, McDonald’s, and Burger King restaurants, benefits ranging from free drinks to a 10% discount off your bill are available with the presentation of a valid student ID.
If you take away only one money-saving strategy from this article, let it be this: Absolutely, positively do not buy textbooks from the on-campus store. The convenient ordering and pickup system is not worth the hundreds of extra dollars that will be spent.
Searching your required textbooks by title or ISBN number will likely pull up a number of retailers that offer them at substantially lower costs than the student store. Barnes & Noble and Amazon are safe bets, but with sites like Chegg offering textbook rentals, there are more deals to be found.
Some textbook publishers also allow you to rent digital copies of books (the text will disappear from your library at the end of the semester), which often cost less than the print version anyway.
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