Free Technology? What? It’s true as if achieving a degree is not enough of a prize, there are some institutions that are incentivizing learning by offering iPads or free laptops for college students. Many of the programs on list that are providing these resources are specifically for online or hybrid learning, but that is not across the board. Some of the programs on the list give students a personal device specifically for the time the student is enrolled, but others allow participants to keep the technology even after the program is complete.
These programs have their own offerings and distinctions, so be aware that the same rules do not apply. Some even allow the student to choose the technology that would be the most effective for them. Some are Mac or PC specific, while others leave the brand choice up to the student. Mobile learning has become part of the fabric of many academic programs at this point, so it makes sense that these tools might come with the territory. In fact, these days, many programs require students to access lectures, participate in class discussions, take quizzes and complete assignments on a school-issued computer or mobile device.
More and more it is becoming clear that such devices are transforming the way students learn and faculty teach. It might be in your best interest to look deeper into the connections between mobile devices and learning by picking a program that brings this research forward by offering students a personal device of their own. If nothing else, take a look at the programs we found that tie this equipment into their coursework. Picking a program that offers a fancy device might just feel like winning the lottery. There is something to be said for being at the front lines of education and technical innovation.
1. Bethel University
Bethel University was created officially in 1847 in McLemoresville, Tennessee. They were originally known as Bethel Seminary. Though they are no longer a seminary, they have maintained their Christian foundation and values. Now they have five campuses and extensive online programming, which is where the technology comes into play. Bethel offers every full-time student a free Chromebook with a touch screen. This is kind of like a laptop and iPad in one. Each student will be shipped their chromebook directly, or they can opt to pick it up at the New Student Orientation before classes start. All of the Chromebooks will be loaded with Moodle and Google Drive to make it easy for students to participate in coursework using their equipment. In addition, all of the machines will be stocked with the Microsoft office 360 Suite. On staff is a capable IT team ready to offer support either to navigate the system or help problem solve.
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2. Chatham University
Chatham University has been around since 1869 and ever since has learned to incorporate the cutting edge into their classrooms. Each student that enrolls pays a fee of $1,335 as part of their enrollment costs. Several things come out of that money including a personal MacBook Air for each student and a four-year AppleCare warranty. Participants will receive their new computer at their initial student orientation. Each learner will also receive 4 years of accidental damage protection through SafeWare, which includes theft protection as well. There is an on-site help desk where students can take their computers for servicing or questions. An extra exciting gift that comes with each computer is a Chatham logoed backpack where the laptops are able to be securely transported. Because each student has the same technology, they are streamlined and incorporated into the coursework of most classes, and in a circumstance where classes need to be canceled, these personal computers make it easy to move class sessions to the online format.
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CollegeAmerica has five locations, all of which are in Colorado and Arizona, as well as their comprehensive online programming. Students can achieve associate’s degrees, bachelor’s, and masters online, on campus, or a blend between the two. Their degree programs are career-driven and accessible to a large population of learners. On top of lab supplies, textbooks, and e-books, each student is given a laptop computer loaded with all of the software their course load requires. Included is extensive technical support to not only navigate issues that come up regarding the software and hardware but also to help students use their computers to the highest extent of the machines. Students can keep their computers after graduation. Online students will use their laptops as a portal to all of their coursework, including attending virtual lectures, taking part in classroom discussions, completing class assignments, taking quizzes, and even submitting assignments.
4. Dakota State University
Dakota State University is located in South Dakota and offers a wide variety of classes that are delivered entirely online. Institutionally they believe in equal access to learning and technology, and as a result, each incoming freshman is provided with a free laptop for college. The computer they are given is a T Series Fujitsu, which will be pre-configured with all of the installed licensed software students need to be successful at DSU. Each computer will have universal access to wired networks and secure wireless connections to be used throughout the campus. One of the goals DSU has for giving each student a laptop is to foster a greener and mostly paperless academic experience. All of the faculty members incorporate use of this technology in their planning and delivery of curricula. The laptops enable students to take notes using digital handwriting that will be directly added to the professor’s digital presentations, record audio in class, submit and receive class assignments, collaborate with students through a secure server, among many other possibilities.
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5. Delaware State University
Delaware State University formed a partnership with Apple Computer in 2018, and the result is the provision of an iPad pro for students as well as faculty members. This is part of a digital learning initiative where DSU is hoping to make all classroom activities digital by this year. They consider giving out this kind of technology an equity issue. In other words, lack of access to technology as a result of economic status can hinder a student’s ability to be successful in today’s tech-driven world. DSU wants to ensure that all students have the same resources in order to have equal access to success. On top of iPad Pros, students in the Department of Mass communications will receive MacBook Pros that are capable of running advanced software for editing and imaging. In the first few weeks of classes IT support staff set up and gave out over 150 MacBooks and 1,000 iPad pros.
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6. Duke University Global Health Institute
Duke University Global Health Institute is a leader in public health education. They train their students to synthesize research and education to act on the frontlines of remediating health disparities across the globe. A perk of participating in this program is the administration of a free iPad for students to use as a tool for field research. The goal is to give students everything they need to get the most out of their fieldwork experiences and allow them to truly focus on the people they are working with rather than fumble to take handwritten notes or find an online resource. They began offering iPads for this very reason in 2010 and has since become part of a larger initiative to incorporate technology as an integral part of Duke’s campus-wide program, and of course beyond. The Duke Medical Center Library has been working with technology as well, and are hoping to innovate further in the next few years as they expand their digital reach.
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7. Full Sail University
Full Sail University is located in Winter Park Florida, though many of their courses and programs can be completed entirely online. They have a unique partnership with Apple Computer that is called Project Launchbox, which was designed to ensure students have the skills and technology they need to create portfolios that stand out. What this means in practice is that each student is granted a MacBook Pro that is loaded with the software they need for their given program. Each Launchbox is specific to the program, so hardware and software varies a little bit accordingly. For example, the Digital Cinematography LaunchBox comes with the tools to create award winning movies. In actuality, the technology granted through LaunchBox is not free, as each student is on the hook for a tech fee separate from tuition that is tailored to each program. The pricing for each package is variable and may change from semester to semester.
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8. Independence University
Independence University is an entirely online institution for higher learning. They have a motto, we give you the tools for success, and that they do. Each student is not only given a free iPad, but also a free laptop for college coursework. Both of these expensive resources are provided to the student to keep beyond the completion of their program. The tablet/ iPad is sent to each student during their first course module, which is within the first four weeks of study. The laptop will arrive at the start of the fourth module. The laptop will come fully stocked with all of the software students need to be successful in their given program. On top of this technology, all of the required textbooks will also be provided, as well as any additional equipment or supplies. Along with the technology comes stellar online technical support, ensuring that students will never be stuck in a quandary related to their equipment.
9. Indiana State University
Indiana State University won the Sycamore Technology Award that is specifically geared toward their Pell Grant Eligible population. As a recipient of this award, they are able to give out free laptops for college students who qualify. Students must be enrolled full time in traditional programming at Indiana State University. Every freshman who is incoming will be considered as far as receiving this award goes. In other words, students do not need to submit another application or additional paperwork as long as they are enrolled by July 15. If a student qualifies for the Sycamore Technology Award, that does not mean they are eligible for other forms of financial aid. For any questions, students can contact the scholarship office for additional information about the laptop program. If a student withdraws from their program, the laptop must be returned within 30 days of their last day.
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10. Johnson C. Smith University
Johnson C. Smith University is a Christian historically black university located in Charlotte, North Carolina. They have a long history of inclusive practices, including the belief that all students should have access to technology, especially in this increasingly tech driven world. This shakes out in a few different ways on campus. Many students are eligible to receive a free iPad to use while enrolled at Johnson C. Smith. Each iPad is loaded with software that is beneficial to the required coursework given, and will play a big role in the technology-driven curricula. Students enrolled in their Metropolitan College will receive a free laptop at the start of the school year. Every laptop is packed with software that supports learning and productivity. They all are equipped with a wireless and wired campus network, ensuring that internet connectivity will never be an issue.
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11. Moravian College
Moravian College, located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is at the front lines of tech innovation and they want all of their students to be too. In 2018 they were named an Apple Distinguished School as a result of their mission to make technology accessible to every student. Each incoming freshman at Moravian is given both an iPad and a MacBook Pro directly after they submit their acceptance deposit to attend. This is not only to be used while they are a student at Moravian, but a beyond that as well. Yes, the technology is theirs to keep for their future education or career endeavors. Their mission includes not seeing technology as a classroom distraction, but a complement to academic excellence. Moravian’s goal in offering such hardware to every student is to ensure the playing field is level and no learner has less opportunities as another because they don’t have the same resources.
12. Northwest Missouri State University
Northwest Missouri State University is located in Maryville, Missouri. They believe in making education as easy as possible to achieve by removing some of the barriers that get in the way for students with less economic resources. As part of this mission they give each undergraduate and graduate student a laptop computer to borrow for the time they are at Northwest. Undergrads must be enrolled in over 12 credit hours at a time to qualify and grad students 9 credit hours. In line with the idea of accessibility, their students are given the opportunity to rent primary textbooks to save money on costs as well. The laptops they receive are HP EliteBook 840 G1 Notebooks, also known as Ultrabooks. They are loaded with current software including the MS Office Suite. Northwest Missouri has an IT staff that is there to support students to service their laptops and answer any questions that may arise related to the equipment.
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13. Rochester College
Rochester College is located in Rochester Hills, Michigan. They are not only known for their beauty and lake views, but also their drive to provide students with an accessible education enhanced by technology. They were one of the first to add tech inclusion to their teaching strategy. In 2008 they began offering each incoming freshman a free iPad or MacBook Pro. This practice of offering technology to incoming students is still part of the fabric of their school. Transfer students are also eligible to receive their free technology if they come in with a 29 credits or fewer. Students who are dually enrolled, as part of their high school college program may also be eligible, depending on the amount of credits they come in with. Rochester College is invested in making sure each student has access to the most current technology as they embark on their academic careers.
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14. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota offers robust traditional programs at their Minneopolis-based campus, and they also have a variety of online and hybrid program offerings. In order to ensure students have what they need to be successful in their tech-savvy coursework, they offer each student a free iPad with an intuitive interface. Students will be trained on how to effectively use their iPad as a classroom resource at their new student orientation. Most of their academic requirements will be performed with the given iPad, however, they ask that students also have their own personal computer access for the purposes of writing papers and completing more lengthy assignments. The iPad will be the window to academic success, as students will be able to use this mobile device to communicate with peers for group projects, read textbooks and share notes, post to discussions in a variety of formats (including podcasts), and much more.
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15. Seton Hill University
Seton Hill University is located in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, but they believe that mobile learning is the path forward, and can happen anywhere. What this means is they prioritize programming that students can accomplish anytime and anyplace. The way this plays out is that faculty members are given extensive training along with their own MackBook Air to integrate mobile learning into their curricula. Incoming freshmen also receive their very own MacBook Air. The MS in Physician, MS in Art Therapy, and the MS in Orthodontics programs are also giving students free MacBook Airs, as the technology is integrated into their coursework as well. All of the equipment can be serviced on campus while the student receives a loaner laptop in the meantime. Apple has recognized Seton Hill as a Distinguished School for five years in a row. In fact, they have created a mobile e-book called Mobile Learning @ the Hill, which shares insight on their mobile learning program and trajectory.
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16. Southern Nazarene University
Southern Nazarene University is located slightly west of Oklahoma City on a 40 acre campus. They are a Christian libreral arts school that is committed to academic excellence. They employ these values by ensuring that all of their classes are up to date as far as technological advancement goes. They require each student to have a laptop to attend this university. They don’t believe in leaving anyone behind, so in order to enforce this policy, they offer a hugely discounted rate for students who do not have a modern laptop and need to purchase one. Their Dell computers have the latest software that will be utilized in the coursework at Southern Nazarene. They have a list of departments with their required software and systems on their website, ensuring that students who are studying in a given field have what they need to be professionals in the sphere for which they are working.
17. Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University offers students who are campus based what is known as a laptop computing initiative. Online students have different requirements and offerings, but if you are studying in a traditional program, you are eligible for a discounted laptop, both Apple and Dell apply. All of SNHU’s programming requires students to be technically innovative in order to be up with the times, so a required laptop is made attainable as a result of their technology inclusion efforts. Dell has formed a long-term partnership with SNHU. As a result, students have an option to buy a computer that is relevant to their discipline on campus for a fraction of the regular retail price. The discounts are specifically tailored to SNHU students and a variety of options are covered under the deal. SNHU also offers their students a Mac option with a subsequent discount on campus as well.
18. St. John’s University
St. John’s University is located in Queens, New York , but its imprint is much larger than their campus. Much of their goal is to give students the drive and resources to succeed in this technologically advanced world. They offer free laptops for students who participate in their academic computing initiative. Students who opt to participate in this program are not only given the laptop but extended free technical support and a warranty that lasts four years. All computers already have pre installed software that is relevant to coursework and class requirements. The incentive to keep the laptop is graduation. Another amazing aspect of this program is that students are allowed to choose the laptop that they want between three options. Various departments have different recommendations for which computer is the most beneficial, however, most students choose the MacBook Pro. There is a tech fee associated with the gift, however, it is minimal compared to the cost of the computers.
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19. Stevens-Henager College
Stevens-Henager College has several locations throughout Utah and Idaho. Their West Haven Campus is known for their extensive technical innovation. They offer every undergraduate student a free laptop computer that will be utilized in all of their coursework. On top of making technology accessible to students, they also offer lab supplies, textbooks and extensive career services without additional costs. The computers are preinstalled with all of the necessary software and e-learning applications for students to participate in classroom discussions, access lectures, discussion boards, take quizzes and exams, and also complete and hand in assignments. They also employ an e-book loaner program that allows students to access digital textbooks and devices that can be returned at the close of the semester. On campus, there are extensive resources for technical support, ensuring that laptops will be repaired swiftly if need be, and students will be granted a loaner in the meantime.
20. University of Minnesota-Crookston
The University of Minnesota-Crookston offers a technically rich environment on and off their campus. One of the ways they apply technical inclusion and access is through their laptop program. From day one, students are offered a free laptop to carry them through their education and beyond. They utilize laptops as essential classroom tools, ensuring that each student can access cyber simulations, video presentations, and tailored applications as an integral part of their coursework. Experiential learning is written all over this institution and this technology is employed to bring that vision forward. It is noted that most employers view University of Minnesota students as immediate go-tos when they are on the hunt for creative and tech savvy employees. On a side note, they offer the same tuition rates for all of their students as a way to bring together a world class environment full of diversity.
21. Wake Forest University
Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, you will find Wake Forest University. They pride themselves on technological advancement and inclusion and offer a variety of resources to prove that they are building a tech-savvy student and faculty body. One of the interesting offerings is their Wakerspace, which employs a multi-modal approach to accessible digital innovations. They believe all students need technology to be on the front lines of their own education, and so they do all that they can to ensure this idea is put into place. How this works is, that every student who receives any form of financial aid, which includes merit or needs-based scholarships, are entitled to a technology grant. These grants enable students to buy a standard laptop with insurance, all of which include WakeWare. Everyone who is being offered a free system will be notified by the end of May. Every other student will be given a computer at a discounted rate.
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22. Wentworth Institute of Technology
Wentworth Institute of Technology’s name says it all. That’s right, they are an institution of higher learning driven by technology. One way they employ accessibility by way of technology is by offering each incoming full-time student a lap top computer to keep, contingent upon graduation. Each academic program has identified the right machine and software that makes sense for the coursework and programming at hand, and therefore, the machine a student receives is based on their major. Wentworth piloted the laptop program in 2004, making them one of the first to prioritize technology access in this way. The laptop is covered by the cost of tuition, and no additional fees are applied. Wentworth technically owns all of the machines, however students can upload the software they want and need. The ownership is transferred to the student upon graduation. On top of the technology that students are given upon matriculation, they have access to significant discounts for additional equipment if they desire to purchase anything else.
23. West Liberty University
Located in West Virginia, West Liberty University has put their name on a global map with their technology inclusion programs. They believe in closing the wealth and access gap by offering each incoming student a free laptop upon matriculation. The kicker is, all students who are majoring in graphic design, mass communications, and digital media design will need to bring their own computer. In this case, however, West Liberty will provide them with access to the entire Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, which has a value of $2,400. All music, music performance, and music education majors will receive a free iPad 2 that will be an integral part of their program. The technology that they offer changes year to year as they try to remain up-to-date and take into account student feedback. West Liberty has been offering technology to their students since 2007, making them one of the first to prioritize this type of access and learning.
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24. Western Kentucky University
Western Kentucky University is located in Bowling Green Kentucky. They offer a large range of traditional degree programs as well as online learning opportunities that continue to expand. Part of their mission is to ensure all students that come and leave through their doors are tech savvy enough to excel in the current workforce. They have a variety of programs that enable students to have what they need when it comes to hardware and software. They even have a program that enables students who participate in over 40 hours of community service to receive a free refurbished Apple laptop computer. Otherwise, students can access both Dell and Apple computers at discounted rates through their IT website. The site also shows students the appropriate and compatible hardware and software that will keep them up-to-date in their classes. They also have a recycled computers program and a variety of other options. Included are extensive technical support offerings for their students.
25. Widener University
Widener University offers a leg up to their Robotics and Engineering students. Because this group must be constantly upping their tech skills, many of which require hands-on learning, they are given a free laptop to utilize for their course and fieldwork. This tool will enable students to integrate technology into their research and practice. They have a variety of offerings even beyond free laptops for college students in this program, that include excellent financial aid offerings. Their engineering programs are competitive, so it is no small feat to get to the point where you are offered a laptop here, but clearly, all of that hard work pays off. Widener was the first in the country to offer a Robotics undergraduate degree, and therefore, it is clear that they have an investment in innovation. On top of these offerings, students are given the opportunity to have one year of paid work experience through their co-op program.
As you can see from this abundant list, there are many programs that offer free technology to participate. Whether it’s a computer or an iPad for students to thrive in a particular program, or if it’s a loaner to use for the time the student is at the college or university, there are many options. It is clear these days that you can’t go far in a career without being up to date on technology, and economic access should not be a barrier. Many of these institutions are taking this fact seriously and ensuring that all of their students are on an equal playing field. There is something to be said for everyone having the same tools to set a foundation for equal access to learning.
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Free Laptops for College Students
It’s true that a lot of the technology from programs on this list are an offering from the school, however, it’s important to look deeply at all of the fees you are paying to attend the institution. Sometimes there are hidden costs associated with enrollment. They could be couched as a technology fee or an orientation fee, but that might be where you are paying for the laptop that is being “given to you.” In other cases it is truly a gift to ensure you have what you need to fully participate in the programming.
In many cases, the computers or iPads that are distributed to students through these institutions of higher learning are streamlined with uploaded software and applications that are there to support the delivery of coursework. In many instances the device will be integrated into the delivery of the classes. This is applied in a number of ways. In some cases students will utilize their device to access supplementary lectures, collaborate with peers, take classroom notes, contribute to presentations, take quizzes, and submit work. In the case of classes that are entirely online, everything related to the coursework will be accomplished on the device. In fact, with online learning the equipment basically takes the place of a classroom. It is a window into innovative pedagogy, and a tool for communication.
Some of the schools only offer equipment or technology to a given program and not all incoming students. Many such programs are specialized and competitive. Some of the schools only give computers to students who need financial aid to attend. This is when it is clearly an effort to close the gap and ensure all students have access to the same resources.
Some programs require students to have a specific tool to make their job easier or even possible. For example, The Duke University Global Health Institute brings their students around the world to engage with complex global health issues. The iPads that each participant brings with them in the field allows them to focus on their purpose for being there with a synthesis of their tools and resources at their fingertips.
In any case, technology is available for learning. There are many schools that are not on our list, but are committed to offering discounted rates on computers and maybe some freebies.