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The best cheap and free perks for college students

Hold onto your cash! Get Amazon Music unlimited for 99 cents, Microsoft Office for free and lots more.

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Angela Lang/CNET

During the college years -- when you're probably paying out way more than you're taking in -- getting a few financial breaks can make a substantial difference in your monthly budget. Thankfully, students qualify for discounts -- some significant -- on a variety of products services, everything from Microsoft Office to Hulu to Spotify Premium. And to score those deals, you usually just need to show you're enrolled in a school, either with an .edu email account or through a validation service such as SheerID and Unidays.?

Beyond the deals listed below, ask at your student bookstore for discounts on devices and software. And if you live on campus, check with your school's housing department to see which streaming services -- such as HBO Now -- may be available to you at no additional charge.

In the meantime, we've assembled this list of some of our favorite student deals and freebies. While you're at it, be sure to check out our suggestions for best apps for college students to save money and time.

Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of any products featured on our site. Showtime, like CNET, is a division of CBS.

Student discounts on entertainment

The popular music streaming services give you break on subscriptions.

Amazon

Not to be confused with the Prime Music benefit that's included with an Amazon Prime subscription (or Prime Student; see below), Music Unlimited is Amazon's full-on, massive-library music service that rivals the likes of Apple Music and Spotify. But anyone who has a Prime Student subscription can get Music Unlimited for just 99 cents per month -- by far the cheapest music-streaming option anywhere.

Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

In addition to hardware discounts (see below), Apple offers its Music subscription service at half price for students. That subscription nets you access to some 50 million songs, and of course, it's accessible on all your Apple devices.

Angela Lang/CNET

Arguably the best student deal in the history of student deals, Spotify offers a $5 ad-free plan that includes both Hulu and Showtime. Nonstudents pay a minimum of $10, $6 and $11 per month, for a grand total of $27. That's an awful lot of entertainment for $5. if you already have a premium account, it's easy enough to convert to the student version. If you are part of a family plan, however, check if it would be cheaper for the family to keep you on the $14.99 plan or have you break off.

Student discounts on money management

If there's one thing most students could use a hand with, it's managing money.

You Need a Budget

You Need a Budget (YNAB) offers a wealth of tools and classes to that end. It normally costs $84 per year, but as a student you can get the first year absolutely free.

James Martin/CNET

Financial institutions may offer student deals as well. Bank of America, for example, will waive monthly fees if you do all your banking through its banking app and ATM.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo offers a similar deal to Bank of America's and will waive monthly fees for students 17 to 24 years old.

Charles Schwab

While it's not actually called a "student account," Charles Schwab offers free banking with its investor checking account. You need to have a Schwab One brokerage and trading account with Schwab, but that's not a problem because those are free to open and maintain, too. Note that Schwab does charge fess if you make trades.

Student discounts on apps and software

While you may be able to get software at a discount through your school's bookstore, you won't do any better than free.

Microsoft

Microsoft has Office Home & Student for $149. But you can do better than that with the free Office 365 Education, which gives you access to the online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Microsoft Teams (the latter potentially useful for organizing and executing group projects) and other Office apps for free. All that's required is a valid school email address. For $30 a year, you can get the desktop version of the productive suite, too.

Evernote

Evernote gives students 50 percent off the premium version for a year. That works out to $4 a month for industrial-strength note taking. The offer is good for one year, however, and then the price goes to the regular $7.99 a month.

SoftMaker

Unfortunately, while Microsoft rival SoftMaker offers its full SoftMaker Office 2018 suite free for schools and teachers, students no longer have the option of purchasing it at a discount. Too bad -- I liked the idea of a lifetime license for just $10.

Student discounts on shopping and tech

From Amazon to Groupon, you can save up to 50 percent services and devices.

Amazon

With an Amazon Prime Student membership, you can all get the benefits of a Prime subscription for half the price of the regular service. The student program includes free two-day shipping, video streaming via Prime Video, Prime Music (after the six-month trial), and unlimited online photo storage through Prime Photos. Prime Student starts with a free six-month trial, and then goes for $59 a year (half the $119 cost of a regular Prime subscription). You can participate for four years. And if you rent or buy or sell textbooks through the Amazon textbook store, you can get free two-day shipping on those, too.

Apple

Apple has long offered price breaks for students, including a half-price Apple Music subscription (see above) and discounts on iPads and Macs. One deal that's available now: Buy a Mac or iPad (at education pricing) and get a free Beats Studio3 Wireless headphone. Students can also save 20% on an AppleCare warranty program.

Best Buy

Best Buy offers student savings on a wide variety of products, from laptops to TVs to mini fridges. To get the discounts (which in some cases can be applied to existing sale prices), you need to create or sign into your My Best Buy account, then sign up for student deals. Thankfully, you don't need an .edu email address, and in fact you don't actually have to be a student; parents of college and K-12 students can sign up as well.?

Groupon

Groupon's program affords college students an extra 25% off food, drink, activity and other local deals. That's for the first six months; after that, you save 15% for as long as you remain an eligible student.

Students, teachers and administrators can all score an extra 5 percent off Lenovo's laptops, and that's on top of any existing sales or bundles (with a few exclusions, of course). You'll have to provide verification at checkout.

Microsoft

In addition to free Office (see above), Microsoft promises discounts for both students and their parents. However, it's not immediately clear how to obtain those discounts. At this writing, Surface Book 2 and Surface Laptop prices were the same via the student portal as they were through the main Microsoft Store. And this has been the case since we first wrote about this last year. If you're thinking about a Surface product for school, it might be worth visiting a brick-and-mortar Microsoft store to see if there's really a student discount.

Have you found any other great college deals to share? List them in the comments!

This story was originally posted previously, and has been updated with additional deals.


CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page?and follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and?Twitter!