How College Students Can Save Money Shopping for Educational Software

educational softwareThese days, it seems that universities are forcing students to pay a lot of extra technological fees, such as hardware and software costs and upgrades, copying and printing fees, and more. But many students are finding that it is completely unnecessary to have to spend all this extra money just to successfully complete their coursework without taking on additional student debt or withdraw additional funds from your Heritage RESP.

While some university courses do require specific software, most of which is discounted through the course provider, the majority of students can get by without purchasing high-end technology. No need to purchase Word or Windows when you can get your homework done with much cheaper educational software.

Here are five simple tips, each of which can help save you hundreds of dollars in hardware and educational software costs:

Reduce PC Hardware Upgrades

If you’re looking to buy a machine just to help you in school, and are willing to forego the newest graphics and sounds used in gaming, you may find that you don’t need to purchase any hardware upgrades at all. In fact, you can often get a laptop capable of running Office software and browsing the web (about all you really need for school) for just a couple hundred bucks!

Save money over time with Printers and Scanners

While a printer or scanner is a big upfront cost, the reality is that purchasing one will save you money over the course of your years-long education. When you count up all the rough drafts that you’ll be submitting, and the overall volume of printed paperwork you will be producing throughout your academic career, you can often break even within your first year at school by purchasing a printer. You’ll also be saving money on the high mark-up fees charged by your local copy center.

Related: More ways to save money on college expenses

Don’t fall for Microsoft Office marketing

Think you can’t operate a computer without purchasing pricey software from Microsoft Office? You would be wrong. While it is important is that you have Microsoft Office functionality, you don’t need to have the specific brand itself. With just a little research on the Internet, there are many accessible alternatives, such as Open Office and Libre Office. Both of these software packages are absolutely 100% free, and are open-source (meaning the software is written, designed, and maintained by the community, not a for-profit company).

How to skimp on Photoshop 

If you thought Microsoft Office was expensive, be aware of image editing software, like Photoshop. Individual licenses for these products can cost hundreds of dollars each, and it is very easy to spend thousands of dollars acquiring every piece of software in the toolkit.  However, much like with other brand-name software, you don’t have to pay for the label. Another quick search on the Internet will turn up programs like Paint.net and Inkscape, which are viable and free alternatives to Photoshop and other standard products.

Alternatives to Video Editing Software 

Add “expensive audio or video editing software” to the list of items that you don’t need to spend your money on. Audacity is one of the most popular editing platforms around and is completely 100% user designed and supported. There are dozens of free video editing platforms around as well; Freemake, FileLab, VSDC are just a few choices.

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So if you’re thinking about heading away to University in the near-future, take a hard look at some of your expected ‘costs.’ You will find that in many cases, with a little legwork and elbow grease, you can locate alternatives that will end up saving you significant amounts of cash. Don’t be fooled into buying expensive equipment and computer products that you won’t really need.

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