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Save Money with 14 Free and Discounted Back-to-School Apps

Who needs a backpack full of books and papers when you can carry most of your school supplies on your laptop and phone? From Google Docs editors to digital flashcards, handle most classroom tasks right from your mobile device when you return to campus this fall.

And as a student you may qualify for significant discounts on services, from Amazon Prime to Spotify. To qualify, you need to show you're enrolled in a school, either with an .edu email account or through a validation service such as SheerID or Unidays.


Shopping Discounts

Amazon Prime Student

Amazon Prime Student

With Amazon's Prime Student program, college students can get a Prime subscription for half price. The student program includes free two-day shipping, video streaming via Prime Video, Prime Music, and unlimited online photo storage through Prime Photos. Prime Student starts with a free six-month trial, and then goes for $49 a year (half the $99 cost of a regular Prime subscription). Beware: Amazon puts a four-year limit on the length of time you can participate in the program.


Music Discounts

Spotify

Spotify

College students can subscribe to Spotify's music service for $4.99 per month, half the regular price. A student subscription runs for a year, and you can renew every 12 months while enrolled in a qualifying school, for 48 months total. You can convert an existing free or premium account to a student account and revert back after you leave school.

Apple Music

Apple Music

If you prefer Apple's music service, check out an Apple Music student membership. A subscription costs $4.99 per month -- half the regular price -- and comes with a helpful sign-up page. The discount is good for 48 months, and you can change a regular account to a student one. You can sign up from an iOS, Android, Mac, or Windows device.

Tidal

Tidal

Tidal's streaming music service also offers 50-percent student discounts on both its Premium ($4.99 per month for AAC audio) and HiFi plans ($9.99 per month for lossless audio).

Unfortunately, neither Google Play Music nor Pandora Premium (each a $9.99 monthly subscription) offer a student discount.


School Supplies and Study Aids

Amazon

Amazon

With Amazon's textbook services, you can buy and rent textbooks as well as trade in used books for an Amazon Gift Card.

Chegg

Chegg

You can also rent textbooks -- physical and ebooks -- through Chegg. The textbook-rental company also offers homework help, textbook solutions, study aids, and online tutors.

Dictionary

Dictionary

Dictionary.com's free app for iOS and Android devices includes more than 2 million definitions, a thesaurus, and a word of the day.

EasyBib

EasyBib

Building a bibliography could easily be the most complicated part of writing a research paper. With EasyBib, scan a book's barcode, and the app creates the citation for you. A free account lets you create MLA citations. A $9.99 monthly subscription gives you access to more than 7,000 citation styles.

NoodleTools

NoodleTools

If $9.99 a month seems steep, NoodleTools is 15 bucks for a year and offers similar citation tools.

Duolingo

Duolingo

Learn a language while playing games on your phone. How could that be bad?

Evernote

Evernote

Evernote helps you take notes, track tasks, and save websites across mobile and desktop devices, with everything synched. The free version has a monthly upload limit of 60MB across two devices. Move to 1GB a month for $34.99 a year.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy

With Khan Academy, keep your math and science skills sharp.

Quizlet

Quizlet

It's a snap to create flashcards and flashcard collections. You can use flashcard sets created by your teachers or other users.

Wolfram|Alpha app

Wolfram|Alpha app

It knows chemistry and physics. It can help with statistics and astronomy. It can plot graphs. It will tell you how many calories are in 10 peanut M&Ms.

Clifford Colby follows the Mac and Android markets for Download.com. He's been an editor at Peachpit Press and a handful of now-dead computer magazines, including MacWeek, MacUser, and Corporate Computing.