5 US unis offering laptops, iPads

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The start of a new academic year often comes with multiple discounts and freebies for students to help them stay on budget as they transition to university life. Some schools offer far more than just college essentials at a bargain. These universities distribute free laptops or iPads to any incoming student as an initiative to level the digital divide in learning.  

With hybrid learning and educational technology (edtech) becoming the norm in universities worldwide, having a smooth-running device is indispensable to ensure a satisfying classroom experience. A 2020 research conducted on large incoming freshmen at American universities found that laptop ownership is closely tied to academic performance: non-owners were associated with negative overall college performance. 

Whether you’re a heavy laptop or iPad user, having one that won’t crash when you open a new tab can go a long way in optimising your study time. Since you’ve paid a hefty fee for your degree, especially if you’re an international student, why not get a shiny new gadget on your first day? 

Freebies for students from universities

With hybrid learning becoming widespread on many campuses, access to edtech grows more crucial for university students. Source: Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

Freebies for students: US unis with free laptops or iPads for first-years

Dakota State University (DSU)

Launched in 2004, DSU’s Wireless Mobile Computing Initiative has been providing new full-time students with a laptop each fall. Students will receive the latest Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga that is specifically configured for DSU programmes. 

The device includes licensed software that is pre-installed, together with warranty protection and battery replacements. An on-campus Help Desk is available if you’re having problems with the laptop, and you must pay for repair costs if the damages are caused by careless or negligent use. 

Delaware State University 

One of the most prolific public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the US, Delaware State University has committed to delivering equitable access to higher education for over 130 years.

Its Digital Student Universe initiative takes it a step further — all incoming first-year students who graduated from high school from May 2018 onwards are eligible for a 16GB Apple iPad Pro in Space Grey or a 13-inch Macbook Pro, depending on your subject concentration. 

As if that wasn’t enough, these freebies for students each come with a protective case, an attachable smart keyboard and an Apple Pencil for iPad recipients, and a one-year warranty for all devices. iPads are given three years of AppleCare+, while Macbook users will get four years, which covers accidental damage. 

Freebies for students from universities

Having an updated device that fulfils the latest software requirements for your university programme can make a huge difference in your overall learning experience. Source: Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

Moravian University 

Some schools go above and beyond to ensure freebies for students, and Moravian University certainly fits the bill. Here, new students get both an iPad and an Apple Macbook Pro when they accept an offer of admission, which will be theirs to keep even beyond graduation. 

This generous gift is largely attributed to the university’s status as an Apple Distinguished School and its Comenius Access to Technology programme. In addition, the university’s widespread use of Apple software is supported by an information technology team and a department for online education to level the technological playing field among users. 

University of Minnesota Crookston 

The first American higher education institution to issue free laptops to all on-campus students and faculty has continued its tradition to this day since 1993. Each new student will be given a standard laptop from day one, designed to enhance their learning experience at the Crookston campus.

On-campus students starting in Fall 2022 will receive an HP Elitebook x360 1040 laptop and may keep it after graduation if they satisfy all graduation requirements approved by the registrar’s office.

Chatham University 

Under its Undergraduate 1:1 Laptop Programme, this private university based in Pittsburgh will issue a 13-inch MacBook Air to all incoming first-year undergraduate students, together with a backpack and laptop case. Transfer students may be eligible for either a 13-inch MacBook or MacBook Air depending on their number of credits. 

Students are also entitled to four years of AppleCare Warranty coverage, in addition to Safeware theft and accidental damage protection for the same duration. Upon graduation, ownership of the device is transferred to the student. 



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