Regardless of what culture or society you were brought up in your parents, if anything like my own, did their best to teach you the importance of education; oftentimes calling it “priceless.”  But as we grow up, we realize that education in many countries does indeed have a price, and a steep one at that.  So it’s needless to say that students like myself are always keeping an eye out for great deals in order to offset the price of higher education.  Of course you don’t have to be studying accounting to realize that when it comes to deals nothing will ever beat free. With this in mind, I thought I’d go ahead and share a handful of services that any qualified college/university student can take advantage of – services that would otherwise have prices or limitations – without shelling out a dime.

Amazon Student

In tune with the concept of saving money, I think that online retailer Amazon definitely deserves first mention.  Over the years I, like many, have come to trust the fact that Amazon usually has the most competitive pricing on their overwhelming selection of products.  Combine this with the fact that Amazon seems to sell every product under the sun, it’s no surprise that I tend to shop Amazon first because I know that I can find the product that I’m looking for without overpaying.

Now, the one disadvantage with shopping online via retailers such as Amazon is the fact that one has to pay the costs of shipping goods from the warehouse to their residence.  Sometimes the costs of shipping aren’t horrid at all, but it has been my experience that the cost of shipping smaller-ticket items oftentimes outweighs the savings that one gets from shopping online.  And if you need your goods sooner rather than later, shipping can easily cost you an arm and a leg.

This is where Amazon Prime comes in by giving customers the option to subscribe to an annual service that gives users free two-day shipping on many items that Amazon sells; the only typical exceptions being items purchased or shipped from third-party partner vendors.  At $79 per year Amazon Prime is an excellent deal in itself.  But students are able to take advantage of the service – including the option to upgrade to one-day shipping for $3.99 per item – for free.  Keep in mind, though, that this only applies to students and does not offer the streaming media, which is part of the standard Prime service, and you cannot add family members to your Prime student account like you could a normal Prime subscription.

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Dropbox

Here at BestTechie, we love Dropbox.  Not only does the service allow us to share an collaborate on content in a no-hassle environment, but it also allows us to back-up and synchronize crucial files on our personal computers (feel free to check out my previous article on using Dropbox as a MobileMe alternative) and keeps us at peace knowing that our files are versionable and restorable in the event we ever goof up (like that ever happens).

Because Dropbox maintains a huge infrastructure to accommodate the bandwidth and storage consumed by end-users, it makes sense that the company offers a couple of plans (50Gb for $9.99 per month and 100Gb for $19.99 per month) so that they can keep the service alive.

However, Dropbox is also incredibly generous in giving users a free 2Gb storage allocation that they can do whatever they want with (within the terms of service, of course).  Even more generous is the fact that Dropbox allows for users to attain even more free storage simply by inviting other users to the service.  As a regular Dropbox user, each new user you refer earns you an additional 250Mb of storage so that you can earn up to 8Gb extra.

While Dropbox’s student offering doesn’t give you a raised storage allowance off the bat, it does increase the amount of storage you get for each referral to 500Mb (double the 250Mb) for a maximum bonus of 16Gb.  That should be more than enough to store your most critical and irreplaceable files, and allows you the peace of mind in knowing that regardless of what happens to your computer (parties gone wrong?) your work can be available from any other computer with just a few clicks of the mouse.


Be sure to check out Jeff’s previous review of Dropbox.  Kudos also go to BestTechie contributing author Keaton for sharing the Dropbox student promotion with us.

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Microsoft Dreamspark

I’m not going to go into all that much detail about Dreamspark because I’ve already discussed its value to students and Microsoft alike in a previous post here on BestTechie.

Essentially what the service does is give qualified students access to an array of Microsoft developmental products – the same stuff that the developers use to create cutting edge Windows applications – at no charge.  Titles including Visual Studio, SQL Server, Windows Server System, Microsoft Expression Studio, XNA Game Studio, and Robotic Developer Studio are sure to appeal to students of many subjects.  Not only will these applications help you to work on projects (both desktop and web development), but it they will also allow you to familiarize yourself with a set of tools that you may very well use after graduating.

AutoDesk Student

Much like Microsoft’s offering, software development company AutoDesk is very generous in making top-notch products such as AutoCAD, an architectural program that has become an industry standard in the architecture and design industries, available for students to use an learn with for free.  Not only that, but the company has gone as far as making over thirty programs such as 3D rendering software Maya and the creative AutoDesk Sketchbook application available for free as well.

While most of AutoDesk’s offerings are very niche products not intended for use by the general public as much as in certain industries, the fact of the matter is that the selection of titles caters to just about every field of learning and the discounts are simply phenomenal.

So there you have it.  Four free services that no student should dare pass up.  But don’t get me wrong; this is far from an extensive list.  As a student you should always keep your eyes open for deals and promotions.  Some services might not be exactly free, but there are a lot of steep discounts out there – many from smaller companies and vendors – that you cant take advantage of as well.

Have any student-exclusive deals to share?  Let us know in the comments!


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