Best Internet Options for Students 2022
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A fast, stable internet connection is now on the school supply list for all college students. It’s non-negotiable. Late night (or last-minute) study sessions, weekend essay marathons, and online school require a reliable internet connection.
This is probably the first time you’ve shopped for an internet service provider (ISP) if you’re a student. Who knew there were so many? You’re also realizing that internet service isn’t cheap.
There is so much to look for in an internet plan. Before selecting the first internet provider that seems familiar, browse our list of the best internet options for students in 2022.
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Affordable Internet For Students
To begin, let’s discuss affordable internet options. Your choices of internet providers as a student are similar to what anyone else can get with a few adjustments in prices and maybe a few perks.
The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of students away from traditional classrooms and into the virtual classroom. But not every student had reliable internet access. AT&T decided to change that.
ATT&T now offers discounted wireless data plans and free WiFi hotspots for eligible students of all ages, including college students. Although the promotion for this service ended in January of 2021, participating schools may continue to add free and discounted lines until December of 2022.
If you’re an international student studying at a 2-year or 4-year US college or university, AT&T offers a discounted international phone service with no deposit fee as well.
With Spectrum, students from participating colleges and universities can qualify for Spectrum’s Back to School bundle deals. The internet-only option starts at under $50/mo. and offers 200 Mbps, has no contract, and no data caps.
You can even sign up for Spectrum’s mobile plan, which gives you access to WiFi hotspots to do your homework on the go.
Xfinity offers one of the juiciest deals for affordable internet options for college students. The most basic student plan starts at under $60/mo. and may come with additional perks, like a Prepaid Visa Gift Card or several months of Amazon Music for free.
If you want to include your phone plan with your internet plan, Xfinity lets you keep your number with no contracts.
To be clear, you must live off-campus to receive Xfinity’s student discount and attend school at an eligible college or university. After your first year of service, the rates increase to their standard rates. Also, the student discount ends June 30, 2022.
Although Cox doesn’t have any special internet plans for college students, they offer reasonably priced plans for students. Cox offers a basic plan starting under $30/mo. It’s recommended that you can connect up to 5 devices at a time and get up to 50 Mbps download speed.
Upgrade to the next plan for just a few bucks more if you need faster speeds. The downfall is that Cox requires a 1-year contract. If you’re planning to live on campus during the summer, Cox may be a good fit for you.
DISH is a TV provider that offers great deals for students, staff, and alumni from participating colleges and universities. Their basic internet plan starts at under $20/mo. On top of that, they often throw in additional perks like limited access to premium movie channels and Prepaid Mastercard Gift Cards.
Streaming is one area students luck out. There are multiple student discounts on streaming services available for students to choose from. In some cases, you can even bundle streaming apps to get access to more shows for less money.
Whichever provider you choose, always ask about student discounts when you call. Some providers don’t advertise student discounts, but that doesn’t mean they won’t offer a discount to you.
Discounts on Streaming Services
Get more out of your internet service with a streaming subscription on a student’s budget.
Best Tech Discounts For Students
Saving money on internet deals as a student is great. But you can save money in other areas related to online learning, like computers, phones, keyboards, and even email. Equipment plays a significant role in how we learn online, and technology stores always have student discounts.
Microsoft Tech Discounts
Microsoft offers Microsoft Office 365 free to students and educators. It includes Word, Powerpoint, Excel, OneNote, and even Microsoft Teams. All you need is a valid school email.
BestBuy student discounts go beyond computers and mice. It offers students of all ages discounts on other technological equipment like coffee makers, mini-fridges, and cameras. BestBuy believes that the modern student should have better access to technology, making the learning experiences better and easier.
DELL Tech Discounts
DELL is another tech company that wants to see students succeed with the right technology. It allows students to trade in their devices for new ones and price matches competitors’ equivalent technology (i.e. Amazon prices).
Lenovo Tech Discounts
Lenovo extends its discounts to college students and teachers using their ID.ME system. Each time you check out, Lenovo applies discounts to your entire purchase. You’re sure to find a good deal with Lenovo, from gaming computers to phones.
Apple Tech Discounts
Apple is a tech giant known for its superior technology. As great as their devices are, the products aren’t cheap. Luckily if you’re a student, you can save big money on Macs and iPads. Apple is very generous with its education discount. You can qualify for their discounts if you’re a college student, parent, faculty, staff, or homeschool teacher.
Low-Cost Internet for Low-Income Students
Students of all ages struggle with finding affordable internet plans. Some students go without the internet, which is a massive barrier between students and quality education.
For free internet, students can always try NetZero and FreedomPop. NetZero is dial-up internet access (yes, dial-up still exists!). Both internet services are slow, so they may not be the best option, but if free internet for students is what you need, check them out.
Let’s take a look at some free or low-cost options for low-income students.
AT&T started The Access Program, which provides low-cost internet service to limited-income households who participate in SNAP or SSI programs in California. This plan gives internet to families at only $10/mo. with free installation, no contract, and no deposit. Ask about it when you call in.
COX started the Connect2Compete, which offers internet under $10/mo. to low-income families with at least one student in the K-12. These families must also participate in a government assistance program like SNAP, SSI, or National School Lunch Program. Section 8 housing also applies to this program.
In addition to cheap internet service, one modem is included at no additional fee, and you get WiFi hotspot access. Plus, there’s no contract.
If the Spectrum student deal is too much, you can see if you qualify for the Spectrum Internet Assist Program. One or more members of your household must be a part of the qualifying government assistance programs listed. You can save up to $30/mo. on your internet bill if you qualify.
The Spectrum Internet Assist Program comes with a free modem, high-speed internet at up to 30 Mbps download, no data caps, and no contract. WiFi service is an extra $5/mo.
If you’re eligible for public assistance programs like SSI, SNAP, National School Lunch Program, and others, Xfinity offers the Internet Essentials Program. The program includes internet service for under $10/mo, WiFi hotspots, and more. This offer ends on June 30, 2022.
Optimum started the Altice Advantage Program, which provides internet to qualifying households for under $15/mo. In some cases, it can even be free. Students must live in the New York City area and attend public school to utilize this service. Qualified households also must be a part of a government assistance program.
Altice Advantage offers free installation, up to 50 Mbps, a free WiFi router, and no data caps. Users can cancel anytime if they’re not satisfied.
Lifeline is a government program that helps cover broadband internet costs for low-income families, domestic violence victims, survivors of natural disasters, and many other scenarios where people cannot afford decent broadband internet service. It doesn’t offer free internet, but people can pair the program with an internet service provider to get up to $9.25 off the cost of internet, phone, or bundled services.
The FCC has made it easier to enroll in the program since the beginning of the pandemic, especially if you’ve experienced job loss from COVID-19.
To qualify for Lifeline, consumers must have an income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Or, you must be an active consumer in a government assistance program. Call to check internet availability near you and to see if you qualify.
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Your Options as a Student
Selecting an internet provider is no easy task. There’s a lot to consider, like speed, data caps, and contract length. It’s intimidating if you don’t know what to look for. This is why many college students (or families) choose a safe option.
But this guide is to help make that decision easier by showing you the best internet options available to you. You don’t have to settle with a long list of perks that you don’t need for a price beyond your budget.
Consider your essentials, know what you can afford, then start shopping!