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:
The Best Student Software Bundles
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 Office and other Microsoft software: Free while 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.
Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps: $19.99/month first year, $29.99/month after while you’re a student
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.
AutoDesk: Free licenses to all products while a student
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.
Apple Pro Bundle: $199.99 for 5 professional AV tools
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.
GitHub Student Developer Pack: Free bundle of software
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:
- GitHub code collaboration: Free unlimited public and private repositories
- Name.com and Namecheap domain registrars: 1 domain name for a year
- DigitalOcean website hosting: $50 server credit
- Jetbrains Java IDE: Free subscription while a student
- Canva design: 1 year free Pro account
- Heroku cloud hosting: 1 free hobby dyno for 2 years
- SendGrid email service: Send 15k emails free per month
- Typeform forms: 1 year free Pro plan
- Working Copy iOS Git tool: Free Pro account while a student
- BrowserStack app testing: Free automate mobile plan for 1 year
- Mailgun email service: 20,000 free emails per month
- Stripe payment processing: No processing fees on first $1,000 revenue
- Travis CI code testing: Free private builds while a student
- DataDog monitoring and analytics: Free pro account for 10 servers, for 2 years
- Sentry error monitoring: 500k events/month free while a student
- Algolia search tool: 100k records & 1 million operations for a year
- Appfigures App Store analytics: Free Grow plan for a year
- PushBots notifications: Free Premium account for 6 months
The Best Individual Business Software Discounts
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.
Work in a Modern Office
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:
- Slack chat: Slack’s free plan is perfect for student groups and early startups, as you can read the last 10k messages and invite unlimited people for free. If you need a paid plan, Slack for Education offers an 85% discount for faculty and student groups.
- Notion notes: Free for students, to take notes, organize data in databases, list your tasks, and more.
- Prezi presentations: $5/month for students, for engaging animated presentations.
- Lucidchart diagrams: Free Professional account for students and teachers.
- Evernote notes: 50% off Evernote Premium for students—or use the free plan for most of Evernote’s features on 2 devices.
- Endnote research and reference tool: 50% off for students to organize your research and simplify writing essay bibliographies.
- G Suite office tools: There’s no student discount needed, as the free Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides tools that come with your Gmail account are a great way to write documents, make spreadsheets and presentations, and collaborate on them with your classmates.
- Zoom video calls: The most popular new way to make video calls on remote teams is another app that doesn’t need a student discount. Its default free plan lets you make 40 minute calls with up to 100 people, perfect for your largest study groups.
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:
- Basecamp project management and chat: Free unlimited projects with Basecamp’s student and teacher plan to collaborate on work and chat with your classmates.
- Asana project management: Free Asana Premium for 6 months, perfect if you already use Asana’s free plan and need more features for group projects.
- Monday.com project management: Free Basic Plan to track how far along tasks are and collaborate on group projects.
- Todoist to-do list: 70% off Todoist Premium to organize your tasks better—or rely on the free plan for a powerful to-do list with gamification to encourage you to stay productive.
- Wrike project management: Free Professional plan for 15 users to collaborate on team projects, assign tasks, and track time spent studying.
- ClickUp project management: 35% off ClickUp Unlimited, with pre-made templates for students and study groups.
- Trello kanban boards: No student discount needed here—Trello’s free plan lets you make unlimited boards for free to organize your tasks and ideas visually.
Need to survey people for a research project, or make a signup form for a class event? These form tools can help:
- SurveyMonkey surveys: Free for a year with SurveyMonkey’s core survey tools
- JotForm forms: 50% discount to build forms—or use the free plan for 5 forms and 100 monthly submissions
- Zoho Survey: 50% discount on paid accounts, or make unlimited surveys with 10 questions each and 100 total monthly submissions for free
- Airtable database and forms: The default free plan is plenty to get started with Airtable, with unlimited databases, basic forms, and up to 1,200 records per database. If you need more, invite friends for $10 credit each, then use that to upgrade. There’s also a 50% discount for educational institutions if your department has larger data needs.
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.
- WolframAlpha|Pro and Mathematica math tools: $4.75/month (or around 15% off) online WolframAlpha|Pro and $81/year or $161 perpetual license (around 50% off) Mathematica—or for the basics, use WolframAlpha’s core tools for free to cover all but the more intensive uses of Mathematica’s number crunching.
- Matlab math tools: $55 (or around 50% its home pricing), or free if your university has a site license.
- Tableau data science: Free for a year to learn how to use business intelligence software.
- IBM SPSS statistics: From $35 for a 6 month license, with up to 3 year licenses available.
- Minitab statistics: $29.99 for a 6 month license or $49.99 for a year.
- SAS statistics and analytics: Free for students with a student community to learn together.
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:
- QuickBooks accounting: 1 year free trial of QuickBooks Online, or 6 months of QuickBooks desktop, to start using one of the more popular accounting tools.
- Wave Accounting: Already one of the best deals in accounting software, Wave is fully free for everyone—with fees if you get paid via invoices or manage payroll for employees.
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.
- Figma collaborative design: Free to create and collaborate on as many designs as you want online, and with Figma’s Mac and Windows apps.
- InVision design feedback: Free to share your work and get feedback on it, to give you a better chance at landing an A or a new client.
- Sketch vector design: 50% off for students to design icons, interfaces, and more on a Mac.
- CloudApp screenshots and file sharing: Free for students and educators to quickly share your designs and other files
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:
- AWS cloud computing: $100 credit and AWS’ technical essentials training course for free, along with AWS’ existing free tier of services to build and host your apps.
- Microsoft Azure cloud computing: $100 credit once you’ve used up Azure’s free tier, along with free online training.
- Google Cloud cloud computing: $50 credit per course you take, with 13 dev-focused courses and labs available for free
- Bitbucket code repository: Free unlimited public and private repositories to collaborate on code.
- Domo data connectors: Free for active students to visualize and normalize data from over 1,000 sources
- Webflow website builder: 50% off for a year to host a website—and since Webflow is free until your website is launched, you can test your skills for free first.
- WordPress.com blog: 50% off first order, which can equal a year of premium WordPress.com half-off.
Stay Secure and More
Manage passwords, type faster, and get another bundle of software for less with these discounts:
- 1Password password manager: 6 months subscription free
- Lastpass password manager: 6 months premium for free
- TextExpander productivity tool: 30% off TextExpander subscription to type common phrases faster.
- SetApp Mac software bundle: 50% off for students to use popular Mac software including Ulysses writing app, PDFPen PDF editor, XMind mind mapping, Prizmo OCR tool, and more.
Discounts for the whole university
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.
- Salesforce CRM: 10 accounts free, then $36/month for each additional user for Salesforce Enterprise.
- Xero accounting: Free accounts and learning materials to help students start using Xero for accounting.
- FreshBooks accounting: Free accounts and 4 modules to use in lessons.
- Hootsuite social media: Free for use in class to learn marketing and social data skills.
- Miro online whiteboard: Free for up to 30 people in a class to collaborate with video calls and an online whiteboard.
- Pivotal Tracker project management: Free for unlimited private projects for classes and students.
- Splunk data analytics: 1 year free license for class use.
- Microsoft Azure Dev Tools for Teaching: In addition to the free Azure credit students get on their own, if faculty set up an Azure Dev Tools for Teaching account, they can also get Windows, Windows Server, Visual Studio, Visio, and other professional Microsoft software for free.
- Atlassian Jira & Confluence issue tracking and documentation: Free server license to host in your university, or 75% off hosted cloud licenses for both.
- GitLab code repository: Free unlimited private repositories for educational institutions and students
- Projector modern presentation tool to collaboratively build GIFs, social media posts, traditional presentations, and more. Free for students and educators who signup with an edu email address.
Get a head start on business software
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!
Image Credit: Header Photo by Dollar Gill via Unsplash.