Education is expensive. If there’s one tiny bright side to the costs of tuition and textbooks, though, it’s that tech is far cheaper as a student.
It’s not only the regular back-to-school discounts on laptops or Apple Music and Spotify’s half priced student plans that help. You can also get much of the business software you’ll use in the workplace after university for free or at a steep discount. That’s your perfect chance to learn how to use the software you’ll rely on at work—and might be enough to start a website and launch your startup while in school (then power it with startup software discounts post-graduation).
We did the legwork for you, checking hundreds of popular business tools for startup discounts. Here are the best:
Sign up once, get a ton of software—what’s not to love? These software bundles include the tools you’re most likely to need in university—and in the workplace afterwards. And if you only sign up for these five you’ll get over 50 popular programs the whole time you’re a student.
Microsoft is well known for its student discounts, from MSDNAA and Dreamspark students access to Windows Server, SQL server, and and other development tools, to the discounted Windows and Office licenses long sold through college bookstores and IT departments.
Those are mostly gone now, replaced with Microsoft two main student discounts: Office 365 Education and Azure for Students. The former gives you Office 365 for free while you’re a student, with 1TB of OneDrive storage and all the core Microsoft Office software including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and OneNote. The latter gives you $100 credit on Microsoft Azure along with access to Azure’s free tier of services such as 750 compute hours a month on Azure virtual machines and 30,000 AI transactions with Azure’s Face machine learning tools—perfect to learn how to build for the cloud. And, if your university uses Microsoft Azure Dev Tools for Teaching, you can also get Windows, Windows Server, SQL Server, and other traditional Microsoft development tools for free.
Both programs require a student email address from an accredited institution. If you don’t have that, you could still get Office 365 Home for $99/year for 5 users, and can use Azure’s standard free tier.
Need Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premier, and other Adobe tools in university? Adobe’s Creative Cloud includes every creative and design tool from Adobe—including their newer mobile apps—and Creative Cloud’s student subscription only costs $19.99/month for the first year, then $29.99/month the rest of the time you’re a student (with an annual subscription), versus its standard price of $52.99/month. It’s not free, but it’s a significant savings.
Or, if you only need Photoshop and Lightroom, Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography Program at $9.99/month might be a better deal—and it’s open to everyone, not just students.
AutoCAD, Inventor, Revit, Maya, and 3DS Max are among the most popular professional tools for architects, interior and product designers, animators, engineers, and more—and as a student, they’re free with AutoDesk Education. Sign in with your student email address, and you can download and use over 100 AutoDesk tools as long as you’re a student.
Macs come with a ton of free software, including Pages, Numbers, and Keynote for a free alternative to Office that just might be enough to get you through university, depending on your needs. Apple’s creative software for students is a bit more expensive than the others, but Apple’s Pro Bundle for education is still nearly 70% off the standard price for Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, Motion, Compressor, and MainStage together. Best of all, you can keep the software and continue using it after graduation—no subscription here.
Much like the startup software bundles from like HubSpot for Startups and Product Hunt Founders Club, GitHub offers today’s best set of business software discounts for students with GitHub Student Developer Pack. It includes many of the tools you’d use in the workplace at a tech company—enough to build and host a site and turn it into a small business as a student, for free.
Apply and verify you’re a student, then you’ll get access to every discount in the bundle at once, no need to re-verify with each tool. Some of the best deals in the GitHub student bundle include:
The software you need might not come in a big package. It might be a single tool you’d like to use—and it’s worth signing up for a new account just for that one program. There are dozens more business tools that offer student discounts, including Notion, Basecamp, WordPress.com, and more, ready to use if you verify your student status.
You don’t have to wait until after graduation to work like you’re in a startup. These tools will help you work in group projects the same way teams around the world collaborate on work:
Team projects and impending homework deadlines are as stressful as projects and deadlines at work. You can use some of the most popular project management tools from the workplace in college for free or cheap:
Need to survey people for a research project, or make a signup form for a class event? These form tools can help:
It’s tough or impossible to pass today’s advanced math and stats classes without software—and most of it comes at a discount for students.
Whether you’re studying accounting or need to keep better track of where your grant and loan money is going, these accounting tools can help:
Adobe Creative Cloud is perhaps the first set of design tools you’ll want to pick up, but don’t stop there. These tools will help you design vectors and interfaces—and share your work for feedback.
Along with the resources from GitHub Student Developer Pack mentioned above, these services are among the most popular tools to build software and websites and can help you ship apps and websites for free as a student:
Manage passwords, type faster, and get another bundle of software for less with these discounts:
Some discounts require a bit more work. As long as school faculty registers their class or institution, everyone can get access—but only a student email address isn’t enough. If you’re a student and needs these tools, ask around. You should be able to get them if your professor has a moment to register.
With many of the software tools you’d use in the workplace as a developer, designer, marketer, analyst, data scientist, and much more available for free when you’re a student, now is your best time to start trying them out. Sign up for your student account, try to learn how to use them, and if you get stuck, come back here and ask your software questions. That’s your best way to get real-life software experience before you enter the workplace.
Know of any other business software with student discounts? Add them to the list!
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