Best perks, discounts and freebies for college students in 2020

September 28, 2020 John Mendoza No Comments

Even with a pandemic raging and student costs continually rising, there’s still a bit of good news: College students qualify for discounts — some of them significant — on a variety of services and products. 

Just by proving you’re currently enrolled in school, for example, you become eligible for deals on Microsoft’s Office suite, Spotify and Hulu subscriptions and Amazon Prime if you register with an .edu email account or through a validation service such as SheerID or Unidays

Beyond the deals listed below, your school’s housing department may offer certain streaming services at no additional charge, and your student bookstore could have further discounts on devices and software. For more information, be sure to check out our suggestions for the best apps for college students to save money and time and the best student credit cards

Read more: Best college laptops for 2020

Student discounts on entertainment

These popular music and video streaming services give you breaks on subscriptions.


Apple’s streaming service is already fairly affordable at $4.99 per month, but if you sign up for an Apple Music student subscription (see below), you’ll get Apple TV Plus at no extra charge. As noted below, students can also get Spotify, Hulu and Showtime bundled together for $4.99 per month. (Editors’ note: Showtime, like CNET, is a division of ViacomCBS.) Decisions, decisions!

Apple/Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

In addition to hardware discounts (see below), Apple offers its Music subscription service at half price for students. That subscription nets you access to some 50 million songs, and of course, it’s accessible on all your Apple devices. You also get Apple TV Plus (see above).


Normally $11.99 per month, YouTube Premium is a two-fer: You get ad-free YouTube videos (including the option to download them for offline viewing) and unlimited access to YouTube Music, which is basically YouTube’s answer to Spotify.

Just want YouTube Music? It’s $4.99 per month for students (regularly $9.99). Both options allow for a free one-month trial if you want to test the waters first.


Not to be confused with the Prime Music benefit that’s included with an Amazon Prime subscription (or Prime Student; see below), Music Unlimited is Amazon’s full-on, massive-library music service that rivals the likes of Apple Music and Spotify. But anyone who has a Prime Student subscription can get Music Unlimited for just 99 cents per month — by far the cheapest music-streaming option anywhere.

Angela Lang/CNET

Arguably the best student deal in the history of student deals, Spotify offers a $5 ad-free plan that includes both Hulu and Showtime. Nonstudents pay a minimum of $10, $6 and $11 per month, for a grand total of $27. That’s an awful lot of entertainment for $5. if you already have a premium account, it’s easy enough to convert to the student version. If you are part of a family plan, however, check if it would be cheaper for the family to keep you on the $14.99 plan or have you break off.

Student discounts on money management

If there’s one thing most students could use a hand with, it’s managing money.

You Need a Budget

You Need a Budget offers a wealth of tools and classes to that end. It normally costs $84 per year, but as a student you can get the first year absolutely free.

James Martin/CNET

Financial institutions may offer student deals as well. Bank of America, for example, will waive monthly fees if you do all your banking through its banking app and ATM.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo offers a similar deal to Bank of America’s and will waive monthly fees for students 17 to 24 years old.

Student discounts on apps and software

While you may be able to get software at a discount through your school’s bookstore, you won’t do any better than free.


Microsoft sells Office Home & Student for $149. But you can do better than that with the free Office 365 Education, which gives you access to the online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Microsoft Teams (the latter potentially useful for organizing and executing group projects) and other Office apps for free. All that’s required is a valid school email address.


Evernote gives students 50% off the premium version for a year. That works out to $4 per month for industrial-strength note taking. After that first year, however, the price goes back to the regular $8 monthly.

Student discounts on shopping and tech

From Amazon to Groupon, you can save up to 50% on services and devices.

Read more: All the latest coupons from AmazonBest BuyGrouponLenovo and Microsoft.


With an Amazon Prime Student membership, you can all get the benefits of a Prime subscription for half the price of the regular service. The student program includes free one- and two-day shipping, video streaming via Prime Video, Prime Music and unlimited online photo storage through Prime Photos.

Prime Student starts with a free six-month trial and then goes for $59 per year (half the cost of a regular Prime subscription). You can participate for four years. Plus, if you rent or buy or sell textbooks through the Amazon textbook store, you can get free two-day shipping.


Apple has long offered price breaks for students, including a half-price Apple Music subscription (see above) and discounts on iPads and Macs. One deal that’s available now: Buy a Mac (at education pricing) and get free Apple AirPods. Students can also save 20% on an AppleCare Plus warranty program.

Best Buy offers student savings on a wide variety of products, from laptops to TVs to mini fridges. To get the discounts (which in some cases can be applied to existing sale prices), you need to create or sign into your My Best Buy account, then sign up for student deals. Thankfully, you don’t need an .edu email address, and in fact you don’t actually have to be a student; parents of college and K-12 students can sign up as well. 


Groupon’s program affords college students an extra 25% off food, drink, activity and other local deals. That’s for the first six months; after that, you save 15% for as long as you remain an eligible student.

Angela Lang/CNET

Students, teachers and administrators can all score an extra 5% off Lenovo’s laptops and that’s on top of any existing sales or bundles (with a few exclusions, of course). You’ll have to provide verification at checkout.

Adorama’s new program promises exclusive discounts on video, audio and photography gear, from brands like Sigma, Sony and FujiFilm. To sign up, just set up an Adorama account and then use Sheer ID to verify your student status.

Have you found any other great college deals to share? List them in the comments!

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