I'm a student of the world...yeah, that's it!
July 6, 2010 9:27 AM   Subscribe

What's the cheapest way to be a student to get a student or academic discount?

The recession is kicking my butt and I'm trying to save wherever I can. So much software and hardware comes heavily discounted for students and teachers. What's the cheapest way to qualify as a student, in their eyes? An internet university? Enroll in a community college course? Something that's cheap enough to justify a few hundred dollars.

posted by devilish to Education (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
When you say "justify a few hundred dollars", do you mean that you are looking to save a few hundred dollars on software? Or to spend a few hundred dollars on becoming a student?

Really, the cheapest way to get a student discount is to ask for student tickets at the movie theater, and lo - they are cheaper.
posted by Think_Long at 9:34 AM on July 6, 2010

Response by poster: Well, I'd be willing to invest a couple hundred dollars (enrolling? matriculating? ) in order to be labelled "student" and get the discount. I need to buy some software and they offer it at almost 1/2 price for students with proof -- course schedule, student id, etc.
I'm looking for the cheapest way to be considered a student.
Your example is great and enough for the movie theater but not for software.
posted by devilish at 9:39 AM on July 6, 2010

You could always enroll in community college, get proof, then drop your classes after you've bought the software.
posted by nosila at 9:44 AM on July 6, 2010

I wonder if there's some way to do this with a diploma mill. . . .
NB: attempt at your own risk!
posted by grobstein at 9:48 AM on July 6, 2010

Depending on how much software you need, you might want to look into a Technet subscription, which gives you almost all Microsoft software/OS/servers with multiple keys. You can get a standard subscription for ~$175.
posted by wongcorgi at 10:03 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

2nding the suggestion to enroll at the community college, get an id and drop the classes.they likely have a window to drop or withdraw with no charge. Also, try buying the software online or in the student bookstore on campus. I know the Mac site doesn't verify much, just use your .edu email address.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 10:04 AM on July 6, 2010

First of all, hardware isn't discounted all that heavily. You're looking at 5%, 10% at best. The margin on that stuff is razor thin as it is.

Second, the cheapest way to qualify for an academic discount is going to be to get a job with a university. This would actually be cheaper than cheap, as you'd actually be making money.

Third, if you're looking to spend money to get this, I highly doubt there's any way to do this economically. You'd have to spend hundreds of dollars in software for the discounts to amount to anything special.

But fourth, and most importantly, many of these academic discounts, particularly the ones which offer the biggest savings, come with a EULA which says that you have to stop using the software once you're no longer a student. If you're planning on ignoring this, it's technically piracy, so you may as well just pirate the damn stuff in the first place.

Tl;dr: don't bother. Pirate your software, find a free alternative, or just pony up and pay for it, but trying to game this system isn't going to work.
posted by valkyryn at 10:06 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Most software discounts want you to be enrolled in a college that awards 2-year degrees or better. Microsoft wants a .edu address or for the school to be on their list; last I saw as little as one credit hour was enough. It'll be about $200 for application, tuition, matriculation, lab, and mandatory fees at the cheapest schools I know of; about half of that you can get back if you drop the class. Not terribly ethical, but cheap.
posted by SMPA at 10:07 AM on July 6, 2010

I have found that if I simply provide a .edu email address that qualifies me for a lot of software discounts. I have a .edu email address as an alumni of The University. Also, I have had friends, nieces and a cousin offer to buy something for me with their discount which I turned down as not within the spirit of the offer. YMMV.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:09 AM on July 6, 2010

come with a EULA which says that you have to stop using the software once you're no longer a student

Some programs will allow you to use the software, but anytime you print a document it'll have a "STUDENT COPY" watermark (I believe this is the case with AutoCad). Other programs will allow you to print normally, but the software is not eligible for future upgrades (updates probably, but not upgrades....I believe this is the case with Microsoft Office).

So you might want to check the EULA of your student discount license to see if something like this applies, and if so, weight that in your cost/benefit analysis.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:15 AM on July 6, 2010

The community college I enrolled in to take a couple of Spanish classes didn't issue a student ID or an email address. I was non-degree, but they were for-credit classes.
posted by smackfu at 10:17 AM on July 6, 2010

This doesn't make you a student, of course, but if you're already a college graduate you may be able to get an .edu email address as an alum. Check the website for your school and/or its alumni association.
posted by Songdog at 10:34 AM on July 6, 2010

Most of valkyryn said makes sense.

However, not all educational licenses are that strict. Some allow you to use it only while enrolled. For example, I can purchase a copy of Microsoft Office for home use for $9.99. However, I am required to uninstall it as soon as I leave my academic appointment.

Other software don't have such strict requirements. A .edu address is all they ask for. I'd suggest you try two things:

a) Look for the software on Academic Superstore and see what the eligibility requirements are. If it's just a .edu address, they you're set. If not, do you have a cousin/sibling or anyone else in college that wouldn't mind buying stuff for you?

b) Do you live in a college town? If so just walk into a campus bookstore and look at prices. I rarely buy software from physical stores but when I have, they never asked for my ID/affiliation. I was offered the academic price with no further questions.
posted by special-k at 10:52 AM on July 6, 2010

Oops, forgot the link to Academic Superstore.
posted by special-k at 10:53 AM on July 6, 2010

Just finished up a two-year degree at a community/technical college. I decided to get another student version of CS5 vs. upgrading from CS3 while I still had a few weeks of school left.

With some software (like the professional, the price differences are astronomical even if you factor in paying for a course at a lot of community colleges, (it was over $700 to upgrade, $345 to buy another student version. Full version is around $1800). Plus you get the benefit of getting a good understanding of the software if you take a related class.

However, I bought from this place and they never asked me to verify my status as a student when I've bought online (I've also ordered in person). I'd give it a try.
posted by deinemutti at 11:06 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing the community college idea. You don't always need to enroll in classes to get the email address, but you'll probably need to enroll to get an ID card.

When Windows 7 came out, I got the upgrade for $30. Ooh baby. (I really am a student though.)

The email address is KEY for a lot of software/hardware discounts. For movie and store discounts, you'll need that card.
posted by two lights above the sea at 2:05 PM on July 6, 2010

ThaBombShelterSmith: "2nding the suggestion to enroll at the community college, get an id and drop the classes.they likely have a window to drop or withdraw with no charge. Also, try buying the software online or in the student bookstore on campus. I know the Mac site doesn't verify much, just use your .edu email address."

I work with computers at a CC. Hardware wise, most academic discounts are crap. The campus computer store generally monopolizes the discount, marking up Dell equipment for more than you'd get directly from Dell. I'd chalk it up more to Dell changing prices faster than a single bookstore management more than any academic malfeasance, but it's true.

The college runs a number of MSDNAA eligible classes, and the guy in the cube next to me handles the roster. It's always a question in the back of our minds how many students enroll in a class specifically for the discount, but AFAIK, we've never caught anyone and never even looked. We do get a bit annoyed at the people who download their max allotted two of everything and ask for more, but more annoying is the people who ask for Apple or Adobe products from MSDN (that's Microsoft Developer Network, who is unsurprisingly not selling Adobe). Also, MSDNAA doesn't include MS Office.

Ethically, it's dubious of course to enroll then drop out. In addition to the normal stealing and fraud of vendors arguments, it harms schools and students. Many colleges, ours included, are implementing a no late enrollment policy, so every spot you take and drop is a spot not eligible for someone else. Additionally, many of our non-tuition funds come with performance metrics like dropout ratios and graduation rates. So it's a small ding against us that could be pretty bad in aggregate, at least for a specific department ("why do all the technology courses have three times the normal dropout rate? better just cut the program rather than risk funding").

Of course, if you enroll and finish a course, it's far less of a problem for us. We still get hit on diplomas granted stats, but I think you can enroll non-credit, not affect our numbers, and still get a student ID. Our tuition is like 75 bucks a credit hour, our out-of-state tuition is 175 and most MSDNAA courses are 3 hours. You'd have to buy a lot of software to make up tuition, which is the opposite of tightening belts in a recession.
posted by pwnguin at 2:28 PM on July 6, 2010

« Older What's the absolute fastest way to renew a US...   |   If I apply for a job within my industry, can a... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.