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Back to school: Discounts on computers and other electronics

Being a student can be expensive, but it can also get you deals on computers and other electronics. Some are just for college students, but others discount for K-12 students too.

These programs are not always easy to find or well explained online. If you aren’t sure what’s being offered, call or chat online with the company’s customer service reps to get details. Some offer blanket percent discounts; others are special limited-time deals. Some limit the amount of products you can buy. And almost all require that you verify your student status, often by entering a valied college (.edu) e-mail address.

Keep in mind that your school may have specific requirements for the type of computer you need to buy. For example, a student’s major is an important consideration.

Windows is the platform of choice for many business students, and engineering programs such as AutoCAD and Pro/Engineer are only available on Windows. Arts and sciences students should be safe with either Windows or Mac, a platform that tends to offer more security against viruses. And be sure to check your school’s website to see if the school recommends buying a computer with a specific operating system.

Here are some discount programs we found.

Amazon Student

For college students. Amazon offers students a free six-month trial of Amazon Student to those with a valid .edu e-mail address (or you can provide proof of your student status). It includes free two-day shipping, deals and promotions exclusively for students, and a $10 credit when you refer a friend. After six months, you get a discount on Amazon Prime ($39 instead of $79 a year), which adds unlimited video streaming and the ability to borrow books on a Kindle.

Apple Store for Education

For college students and their parents. You can buy a Mac and get a $100 App Store Gift Card. If you buy an iPad or iPad mini for school, you’ll get a $50 App Store gift card. And currently Apple’s offering free shipping on any school supplies.

BestBuy.com College Student Deals

For college students. Best Buy has discounts on computers and lots of other accessories; currently, you can get $100 off MacBooks and iMacs, and 10 percent off some touch-screen all-in-one computers plus free shipping, for example. Sign up with your .edu student e-mail address, and the store then sends coupon codes that you enter online at checkout.

Find the best laptop or desktop for your needs and budget with our computer buying guide and Ratings.

Dell University

For college students. The normal student discount is 2 percent off the regular price of a computer. Dell is also running a special deal through September 26 th : Students get a $200 Promo eGift Card to use toward an Xbox, when they buy certain PCs costing more than $699.

HP Academy

For K-12 and college students and their parents. You get a $150 discount on a "select PC" priced or configured at $799 or more and a Slate 7 8GB tablet, or $200 off on a PC priced or configured at $999 or more and a Slate 7 16GB tablet. HP offers an online tool called PC MatchLab to help you choose the best computer for your needs.

Lenovo Academic Purchase Program

For K-12 and college students and their parents. Lenovo asks you to select a school and then agree that you meet its student criteria; but we were able to click through to the deals page without selecting a school. It offers daily, weekly, and monthly discounts on a variety of computers and electronics devices.

Sony Education Store

For college students and their parents. You can save up to 10 percent on computers and accessories, and Sony offers special student deals as well: for example, buy a VAIO Pro Ultrabook before September 7, 2013 and get a $100 Sony prepaid VISA card. You’re required to log in to verify schools and agree to terms and conditions.

—Carol Mangis

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