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Online learning has become more flexible, convenient, and attuned to the changing needs of working adults enrolled in graduate degree programs. Indeed, graduate enrollment increased in the Fall 2020 term despite the challenges posed by the pandemic! But among the possible challenges in online learning is the absence of a laptop, an uber-useful device used for nearly all learning activities. That said, online grad schools offering a free laptop is wonderful news to students!
Quick audio summary:
Graduate Students and Their Laptops
Graduate students must access the Internet through their laptops to log in to an online learning management platform, such as Canvas or Blackboard Learn. Accessing and submitting their assigned work, researching coursework-related topics and their dissertation, and communicating with their peers and professors are also done through their laptops.
But what can you do if, for one reason or another, you neither have a laptop nor the resources to purchase it? The good news is that there are schools that offer free laptops to their students! Well, not exactly free in some cases since laptop programs fall into several categories including:
- Free laptops given without additional requirements
- Students receive their own laptops but the cost is included in the tuition or charged as a technology fee payable over several semesters
- Laptops are sold with generous discounts and/or through installment plans in partnership with computer companies, such as Apple and Dell
- For-rent laptops that students must return when they leave the school or graduate from their programs
The bottom line: Read the fine print of your school’s laptop program before making a commitment! Here are 9 schools with online degree programs and their corresponding laptop programs.
Under the Tennessee Laptop Program, matriculated students enrolled at the College of Adult and Professional Studies and the Graduate School receive a free laptop! However, the recipients must be Tennessee residents and must complete an online orientation before they receive their Dell Latitude 2290 2-in-1 laptop. This program is in line with Bethel University’s commitment to making its online programs more accessible to interested individuals.
Students must use their Dell laptops for academic use, from logging in to their student accounts to writing their thesis or dissertation. The laptop is theirs to keep when full payment for the first-course tuition and fees have been made, too. For this reason, the McKenzie, Tennessee-based Christian university implements the most generous laptop program for its graduate students! There are no additional requirements beyond the payment of the aforementioned fees and, thus, students can use their laptops without worrying about repayments.
What happens if a student doesn’t finish the first term? The laptop can be returned and there will be no obligations related to it anymore.
Bethel University offers a wide range of online graduate degree programs and has accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Many of these online programs also have programmatic accreditation, such as the BS in Nursing and RN-to-BSN programs by the Collegiate Nursing Education
Among its online programs are:
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), either as a standalone degree or with a dual-degree option in MA in Strategic Relationship or MBA
- Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership
- Ed.D. in K-12 Administration
- MA in Education K-12 with specializations
- Master of Social Work
- MBA with concentrations
- Emotional and Behavioral Disorders License
Bethel University adopts a values-based approach where students, regardless of their faith, choose from courses taught with a Christian perspective.
Colorado Technical University
In 2008, CTU established the CTU Patriot Scholarship program with the aim of giving back to active US Armed Forces servicemen and veterans whose lives were affected by injury while in service. Since service-related injuries affect others, too, the scholarship program also welcomes applications from spouses, college-ready dependents, and non-medical caregivers or attendants of eligible wounded service members. But only 50 scholarships are given to the non-service members every year, meaning it’s a selective scholarship program.
The main criteria for eligibility to the scholarship program are:
- Must be an active service member or a veteran with an honorable discharge;
- Must be receiving medical treatment or have received it for service-connected disabilities;
- Must have at least a 30% disability rating
- Must present proof of high school attainment and meet CTU’s application requirements
CTU students selected for the scholarship program receive full tuition coverage for any eligible program including online degree programs. But they must start their studies within the year the scholarship was awarded or risk forfeiture. If you’re interested, you must then plan your application for a scholarship and admission into your preferred online program well.
Aside from full tuition coverage, CTU Patriot scholars also receive new laptops! These are provided for free along with e-books and textbooks related to their degree programs. Indeed, it’s the best way to start the educational journey – with the learning tools and materials at the ready and for free!
The scholarship recipients can also access special student support services including 24/7 technical support and academic advising from specially-trained military education advisors! With the myriad of challenges that graduate students face, these services will definitely make their lives so much easier and their academic success well within reach. Note that they can also choose to study on one of CTU’s campuses, either in Aurora or in Colorado Springs, or online.
Considered an early pioneer in online education for working adults, Drexel University also pioneered the first laptop lending program in Philadelphia and the use among faculty and students of 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops. In December 2012, the comprehensive urban research university launched its Dragons’ Learning Den, a kiosk in the WW Hagerty Library where students can access 24-hour technology solutions for their academic activities.
This was a partnership between Drexel Libraries and Laptops Anytime that resulted in the creation of a customized laptop kiosk with an initial 12 computers. The number of units increased with the addition of 30 MacBook Pro computers, thus, allowing Drexel to expand its reach for undergraduate and graduate students. The Dragons’ Learning Den also features portable power chargers and an iPad lending kiosk.
During the regular academic term, the facilities are open 24/7 but students can only use the laptops and portable chargers for up to five hours. These gadgets can also only be used within the premises of the WW Hagerty Library, but it’s a minor issue for graduate students who may not have personal laptops. Besides, it’s more convenient to conduct research activities within the library, too.
Students must, however, bring their own cables and other accessories to connect to the laptops, iPods, and power chargers. Borrowers must also agree to the terms and conditions of service before checkout of the devices. Students with an active Drexel DragonCard ID can access the service, but they must be in good standing. Outstanding overdue items and excessive fines can result in non-availing of the service so students must follow the terms and conditions.
Drexel University is known for its cooperative education approach where students have the opportunity to become full-time paid interns for 18 months. There are more than 150 online degree and certificate programs including in the graduate division. Drexel alumni can avail of a 15-30% discount on tuition when enrolling in these online programs, too.
Full Sail University
Students at Full Sail University, a private for-profit university that offers online degrees in design, audio, business, and computer animation at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s levels, are eligible for its laptop program. Known as Project LaunchBox, the program provides eligible students with a laptop plus its corresponding professional software including relevant industry technologies. Students can then create their work and portfolio at any time and anywhere.
Every Project LaunchBox is specifically designed for unique needs including technical specifications and software of each degree program. Thus, students in the audio degree programs have different laptop configurations than students in the business programs. Such degree-specific laptop configurations ensure that students work with industry-specific technologies, too, meaning they are ready for the demands of the workplace when they graduate. The laptops’ technical specs and software are also changed according to the current industry standards, thus, preventing obsolescence of knowledge and skills.
Students not only create their portfolios on their respective laptops but they can also share their work with their instructors. The exchange of ideas including feedback and constructive criticism contributes to their satisfactory progress in their respective programs. There’s also a strong classroom feel through these virtual interactions that, in turn, also boosts the students’ confidence in their creative work.
But the laptop isn’t exactly free! The cost of the laptop and its embedded software is included in the tuition. But since it isn’t a one-time, big-time expense, it becomes easier on the wallet for students. The distribution of the components varies, such as during sophomore year, and there are also downloadable items. This works well with the building block sequence of courses that allow instructors to make effective assessments of each student’s progress in the program.
Illinois Institute of Technology
Illinois Tech ensures that its students have access to technological equipment including laptops that will enable them to make satisfactory progress. For this purpose, the Office of Technology Services (OTS) implements an equipment-for-rent program designed to optimize the educational experience.
Students who want to borrow equipment, such as laptops and personal computers, must make a formal request at least five business days before their planned use. Otherwise, the rental may not push through regardless of circumstances. But in the case of rush and emergency rentals, at least two days’ leeway is ideal, and when approved has a $50 extra rush charge. Additional charges for two hours of labor will also be imposed for the rental of equipment before 9:30 a.m. since two members will be on the job.
Information needed for laptop rentals includes the date and time for its use, the date and time for its return, and the time and diagram of its setup. Borrowers must also note whether the piece of equipment being loaned will be picked up or delivered to the site.
Laptop rentals have a charge so it isn’t a free service. Students pay $50 per day for every laptop borrowed. Projectors and project screens, wireless microphones, and card readers can also be borrowed at varying daily rates. These pieces of equipment are particularly useful during classroom, seminar, and dissertation presentations.
Illinois Tech is a Chicago-based private research university that offers programs in business, engineering, architecture, law, and design. Among its graduate programs are a Master of Engineering in Advanced Manufacturing, Automation and Control Systems; MAS in Applied Mathematics; and Ph.D. in Architecture.
Every incoming student at Moravian University receives an iPad and a MacBook Pro laptop upon their matriculation. The Information Technology division implements the program starting with providing students with assistance in setting up their devices. Once their devices are set up, students can use them during classes but be sure to ask the instructors for their specific policies on this matter.
The MacBook Pro laptops already have a pre-installed app known as “Self Service” that serves as the portal for various activities. These include accessing the university’s resources and downloading software for academic use. Students also choose from a wide range of software including Office 365 suite; Apple software like Keynote, iMovie and Pages; and Adobe Creative Cloud. The faculty advisors at the First-year Writing Seminar also provide training for students.
Students may choose additional insurance coverage for their laptops and iPads. While these devices have an AppleCare+ warranty for their hardware and software components, it doesn’t cover accidental damages. Check out an extended warranty and homeowners’ insurance policies since these may have coverage for laptops at home.
For repairs and other services to laptops and iPads, these devices can be brought to the IT Help Desk. Apple conducts physical repairs but the IT Help Desk technicians provide troubleshooting and triage assistance. For Macintosh and Windows-related issues, students can proceed to the computer labs on the North and South campuses, which are open day and night.
Students have other useful services that optimize their use of their MacBook Pro laptops and iPads! Both wired and wireless connections are available in residence hall rooms and, thus, students can access both the university’s web portal and its AMOS as well as the Internet. Graduate students report such ease of access to their advantage due to their research-centric studies.
Moravian University provides each matriculated student with a Moravian University NetID account. Students can then access the AMOS, Canvas, and Gmail accounts through their respective accounts. Other relevant services are library-related and course-related software and printing services. Graduate degree programs are in the fields of business, education, nursing, and rehabilitation sciences.
Northwest Missouri State University
The Maryville-based public university believes in the power of accessible quality education in transforming lives and, thus, works toward eliminating the barriers to its access. This is particularly for the disadvantaged cohorts, such as students with fewer economic resources including access to learning tools and materials. Enter its textbook and laptop rental program!
Students have easy access to for-rent primary textbooks and laptops due to their on-campus availability. The cost of rentals is also easy on the budget since it’s already included in the tuition and fees. Since most students receive financial aid in some form, the rental cost may well become little to none!
Northwest students can save as much as $6,800 over a four-year period, thanks to the affordable rates on textbook and laptop rentals, too. Aside from the financial savings, they are also able to save on time and energy that looking for, buying and reselling textbooks and laptops require. On-campus technical support is also available, meaning more savings on repairs and replacements that can then be used for other purposes.
Graduate students who want to avail themselves of the textbook and laptop rental program must have at least nine credit hours to qualify. Out-of-state students are also eligible to apply.
The laptops that can be rented are the Ultrabook or the HP Probook 440 G7 Notebook PC with a 10th generation Intel i5 processor. Every laptop comes with built-in software including Windows 10 Professional and MS Office 365, meaning it’s user-ready.
NMSU has 37 master’s degree programs, four graduate certificate programs, and three Specialists in Education programs. Students can choose part-time and full-time enrollment in its online and off-site programs, such as MBA in Business Administration, MS in Applied Computer Science, and MS in Biology. Graduate assistants receive $6,000 in monthly stipends for nine months and a 100% tuition waiver.
Saint Leo University
Students at Saint Leo University qualify for the Laptop Rental Program administered by the Department of Information Technology (DoIT). These include part-time students, transfer students and commuters provided that they meet other eligibility requirements. The rental laptops are configured in accordance with the university’s compliant device requirements.
Students must make a $250 deposit before they can rent a laptop. Due to the limited availability, the rental policy is first-come, first-served. Terms and conditions apply including due and diligent care of the rented laptops, meaning students must treat the equipment with care.
Saint Leo University, a private Catholic liberal arts institution, is known for its pioneering record in offering students with distance learning opportunities. Military servicemen were its first distance learning students in the 1970s but its student and alumni body has since grown to professionals across the country.
While its master’s degree programs have been around for a while, the university only started offering doctorate degree programs in 2013. All graduate degree programs are characterized by their industry-compliant training, Catholic orientation, and quality content delivered by credentialed faculty. The most popular programs are MBA with a range of specializations including Business Administration, Healthcare Management, and Cyber Security Management; MEd: Educational Leadership for Catholic School Administrators; and Doctor of Criminal Justice.
The private Catholic research university makes it easier for its students to buy laptops from Apple and Dell, thanks to its partnerships that allow students to enjoy Higher Education discounts. The Partner Purchase Program has seven laptop choices and two monitor choices from Connection, and these are sold at generous discounts to faculty and students. For Apple devices, students can choose from three laptop models, two models of all-in-one desktops, and four iPad models, even two types of GPUs.
Indeed, Villanova University offers excellent choices for its graduate students where their laptops and other devices are concerned! Connection also offers support services for students experiencing issues with their devices.
Villanova University offers more than 40 master’s degree programs in accounting, analytics, education, and engineering, among others, including its accelerated five-year BS-to-MS programs. Doctorate programs are in biomedical, chemical and civil engineering; cybersecurity; philosophy; theology; and nursing. There are also several post-graduate certificate and non-credit professional programs.
In conclusion, graduate students who avail of these laptop programs report that these are valuable in their pursuit of their degrees. With laptops and desktops being ubiquitous devices, their crucial importance in education cannot be overemphasized. Every single assistance is then appreciated!