If you don’t have a device of your own, you may be searching for online colleges that offer laptops.
The good news is that there are many different online schools that offer laptops. There are several ways to secure a device, including programs that offer discounts and laptop loan options. Some of the best online degree programs may even allow you to keep your borrowed laptop after graduation.
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If you plan to earn your college degree online, participating in a laptop program can help you find the right device for your academic journey.
Online Colleges That Offer Laptops
If you have ever tried to access campus resources or participate in a virtual meeting without the proper device or internet connection, you understand why having a functioning laptop is so necessary.
Attending an online college requires access to a laptop and a stable internet connection. If you don’t have a laptop of your own to access your online classes, you can explore the options available to you. Many colleges and universities offer free laptops to students enrolled in their online programs.
If you do not have a laptop, you can:
- Check if your school provides laptops for a small fee
- Check if your school offers laptops to borrow
- Borrow a laptop from a friend
- Apply financial aid toward your laptop payment
All of these options allow you to secure a device to help you throughout your program. Why do you need a functioning laptop to attend school online? There are several reasons, including the most basic need of accessing your courses.
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A laptop is needed to:
- Access your online courses
- Attend synchronous virtual classes and discussions
- View and submit assignments
- View or download reading and study materials
- Attend virtual office hours
- Complete tests, quizzes, and exams
While every program will differ in format, you can expect to rely heavily on your laptop during your time as an online college student.
You might have synchronous courses, meaning you will interact with your classmates and professor in real-time. Or, you might have asynchronous courses, meaning that your lessons will be prerecorded. Both options require a solid internet connection and a working laptop, preferably one with a functioning camera.
It’s beneficial to check with your schools of interest for specifics regarding free or loaner laptop programs. If this is a determining factor in your school selection, you can narrow down your search to online colleges that provide laptops.
Common Student Laptop Programs
While every school is different, there are several common laptop programs offered across colleges:
- Loaner laptops. Many schools loan laptops to students who need them. Some schools allow students to keep their devices permanently once they graduate, asking for it to be returned only if they drop out.
- Early graduation gifts. Some schools offer laptops as early graduation gifts, meaning that they are distributed as part of the program with the expectation that students complete all of the required credits.
- Payment plans. Because laptops can be so expensive, many companies and stores offer payment plans for students. You can check with your school and different retailers to see the available discounts.
- Scholarships and grants. If you are eligible for scholarship or grant funds, you can often apply these toward purchasing a laptop. You can also research scholarships reserved specifically for laptops, either through a third party or directly through your school.
- Student discount. Many stores offer a student discount on laptops. You will likely need to have proof of enrollment—such as a current student ID card—to qualify for the discount. You can research stores in your area or check with your school for more information regarding available discounts on electronic devices.
The options available to you will depend on your financial eligibility and the specific programs offered at your school. Conducting research into your options can help you make an informed choice and get the best deal possible on your laptop.
Typical Policies of Online Schools That Provide Laptops
Each school has its own policy regarding the distribution and collection of laptops, but here are some typical policies:
- Obtaining the laptop. Many online schools that provide laptops have eligibility requirements in place to determine who can qualify for a loaner device. Sometimes all students are eligible for a laptop depending on their enrollment status and whether or not they make it to graduation.
- Ownership. Some schools offer the possibility of owning the laptop after graduation. If the laptop is only for loan, you will be required to return it when you graduate or if you choose to leave the program.
- Updates and upgrades. Many laptops that are loaned out do not let you control your software updates. Instead, your computer will come with a built-in information technology helper, which will install the approved free academic software updates when necessary.
- Damages and theft. If the computer becomes damaged through no fault of your own, then you might be protected under an existing warranty program. Many colleges also have an insurance program set up to protect you in the case of theft. You can check with your school’s laptop program for information regarding warranties and insurance policies.
- Student status. To qualify for a laptop, most schools require that you be enrolled full-time. Some colleges choose to offer all of their incoming students a loaner device, with the expectation that it be returned by graduation.
Colleges have different laptop programs in place, so checking with your specific school can help you get answers to all of your detailed questions.
How to Choose a Laptop for College
Selecting the right laptop for you will depend on your personal needs. As you make your decision, you might consider the following factors:
- Cost. It can be helpful to create a budget for yourself before searching for laptops. Even if your college offers a discounted laptop program, comparing prices and opting for laptop costs that are affordable can help you save money.
- Storage. Laptops boast varying amounts of storage space. Depending on your degree program, you may need more or less data storage to download and save items.
- Size. The size of your laptop is a practical factor to consider as you search for the right device. Will it fit into your bag? Is it light enough to transport easily?
- Functions. If you are not majoring in a degree related to computer science, chances are you will only be using your laptop for basic activities. If you are majoring in computer science, you will likely want to look for a laptop with at least 16 MB of RAM so it can run all the necessary programs at once.
- Battery life. Generally, smaller laptops have longer battery lives, while larger devices have shorter ones. This information can be found by researching the laptop maker. If you are going to be using your laptop for longer periods of time without access to a power source, you might consider a device with longer battery life.
For most majors, a basic laptop will provide you with the services you need throughout your online college program.
Do Colleges Give You Laptops?
The specific details of a college’s laptop program will vary, but there are online colleges with free laptops available.
Many colleges that offer free laptops allow you to keep your device after you graduate. The expectation is often that you use your computer to complete your selected degree program, only returning it if you choose to exit the program without graduating.
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It’s helpful to keep in mind that every laptop program is different. While many allow you to keep your laptop, there are schools that expect your device to be returned in good condition when you graduate.
Can You Choose Your Laptop?
Typically, schools with a laptop program provide you with a list of device options to choose from. Every college will have different laptop brands available, so it is helpful to check in with your specific school for more details.
If you are not sure what type of laptop will be best for your needs, you can consult the representatives from your school’s program. They can provide you with basic information about each device and recommend something that will align with your requirements.
Can You Keep the Laptop If You Drop Out?
Every laptop program has its own set of rules regarding the return of a device in the event that you drop out. Even with colleges that give free laptops, it is common for programs to ask that you return your laptop if you leave the program.
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Some schools do provide options for you to keep the laptop, though, even if you choose to exit early. Usually, this option involves buying the device from the school for a discounted price rather than keeping it free of charge.
Best Online Colleges with Free Laptops
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format with free laptops to students.
At Bethel University, electronic equipment is available for students to check out for 24 hours at a time. Available equipment includes laptops and associated devices, audio equipment, cameras, and accessories, such as cables and USB chargers. Students can make online reservations ahead of time to check out equipment.
Bethel University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
At Chatham University, all incoming freshmen receive a MacBook Air while attending student orientation. The MacBook Air is to be used throughout the curriculum. Chatham has Wi-Fi areas available throughout its campus. Students are required to pay a technology fee, which helps to cover the computer and services for it.
Chatham University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The College of Southern Nevada can provide a notebook computer to any student who needs it to succeed in their academic career. The computer is theirs to keep upon graduating. Students can receive their computers at scheduled pick-ups throughout the semester. The devices can connect to any Wi-Fi service.
The College of Southern Nevada is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Colorado Technical University has some scholarships available that cover laptop costs in addition to tuition and other fees. Most notably, CTU has Patriot and Wounded Warrior scholarships to assist those who have served in the armed forces. These scholarships also include the cost of textbooks and other fees.
Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Dakota State has a laptop program that is open to all enrolled students. The laptop is a Lenovo ThinkPad configured specifically for DSU’s academic programs. DSU uses technology to its full extent in most classes, and doing so has enabled its classes to become mostly paperless and environmentally friendly.
Dakota State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
All full-time freshmen at Delaware State University are eligible for the school’s laptop program. Students receive an Apple iPad Pro or MacBook Pro, a protective case, a smart keyboard, an Apple Pencil, and three years of AppleCare+. Device distribution usually begins the first day after the drop-add period of any given semester.
Delaware State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Duke University offers loan-free, full-ride financial packages for low-income and first-generation students. These packages include a fully-loaded laptop computer, which is received on the first day of class. Students in these programs also have access to mentoring and professional development seminars.
All applicants to Duke are automatically considered for scholarships.
Duke University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Indiana State has a scholarship that provides full-time, on-campus students with laptops. All incoming freshmen applicants are automatically considered for the scholarship. Students receiving the scholarship may still qualify for other financial assistance.
Indiana State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
At Los Rios Community College District, the students with the greatest financial need are eligible to receive Chromebooks. Qualifying students are simply notified through email and asked to fill out a form.
Los Rios can also refer students to local stores that provide student discounts, sell refurbished devices, or provide other affordable options.
Los Rios Community College District is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Mission College has laptop loaner programs and a Wi-Fi hotspot program for students who do not have reliable internet access. This program is reserved for students with the greatest need. Mission also provides students with access to Microsoft Office 365. Computers are always available for student use at the library.
Mission College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Moravian University provides all incoming freshmen with a MacBook Pro laptop and iPad as part of enrollment. IT staff is available to assist with setting up the devices. The MacBook comes with a pre-installed app that allows students to access campus resources.
Both the MacBooks and the iPads come with AppleCare+ warranties.
Moravian University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Northwest Missouri State has a laptop and textbook rental program to help students save time and money. Technical support is available on campus. The rental laptop is an HP ProBook with Windows 10 Professional. Students also get access to Microsoft Office 365. The program is for full-time, on-campus students.
Northwest Missouri State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
San Joaquin Delta College has Chromebooks and laptops available for students through their laptop loaner programs. Hotspot devices are also available on loan. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout campus, even in the parking lots. Other services for students in need include free tutoring and a student food pantry.
San Joaquin Delta College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
At Seton Hill University, a MacBook Air is given to all traditional, full-time undergraduate students. Faculty members also use MacBook Airs and have received training in how to incorporate mobile technology into the classroom. Technical support is available on campus.
Seton Hill University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
St. John’s University has an Academic Computing Initiative that allows students to rent a laptop for eight semesters. Both Windows and Apple devices are available. Technical support is available on campus by appointment. Computer labs and wireless printing are also available for student use on campus.
St. John’s University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Strayer University has laptop loaner programs available, as well as a laptop program through which students can receive laptops to keep. Each laptop comes loaded with Microsoft software.
Students usually receive their laptops within 3 weeks before classes start. Students can also still sign the laptop agreement for up to 8 weeks after classes start.
Strayer University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Minnesota—Crookston provides a technology-rich environment in which every student is offered a laptop computer from the first day. Wi-Fi is available everywhere on campus. UMN Crookston works to ensure that students graduate with the latest technological skills needed to compete in the job market.
The University of Minnesota – Crookston is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Valley City State has started a laptop initiative in which all full-time students are issued laptops. The type received is dependent on the student’s intended major. Students of the arts and humanities usually receive a MacBook Pro, and students of the sciences, technology, or business usually receive a PC.
Valley City State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Wake Forest University requires all undergraduate students to have a laptop that can handle all free academic software. Students may bring a laptop from home if they wish, but if they do not already have one they may purchase one through Wake Forest’s WakeWare program.
WakeWare laptops come with extended insurance and warranties.
Wake Forest University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Western Kentucky University has a loaner laptop program for students who need them. Full computer service and repair is available for free on campus. WKU also ensures that Microsoft Office is free for all students and gives students access to discounted cellular service. Students do not need their own printers either.
Western Kentucky University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Getting Your College Degree Online
If you are ready to earn your college degree online, your lack of a device doesn’t need to be an obstacle. There are plenty of available free laptop options for aspiring students.
Completing a degree program can open up a world of professional opportunities. Many people who earn their college degrees go on to become workers and leaders in a variety of fields, including education, technology, and business.
As you begin your search for college degree programs, you may want to specifically research accredited online schools that give laptops to students. With the right device, you can learn from anywhere in the world.