If you’re like most students across the country, expenses are high and funds are low. Between tuition, books, housing, transportation, utility and phone bills, and food, being a student is expensive. The good news is – while your life as a student may be costly, your Internet doesn’t have to be. There are many Internet service providers and tech companies developing special plans and discounts for students. Whether an undergrad, a graduate student or taking part in a tech school – there is most likely an Internet plan available to you with a significant student discount!
While money is commonly the most important factor for most students, there are some other important factors you should consider before choosing your Internet service provider. Internet reliability, data caps, and connection speeds are also important features you should examine before choosing the Internet you will use. Here are some helpful tips to finding cheap internet for students that is reliable and fast.
College Deadlines Wait for No One
Reliability is one of the most important factors you should examine when choosing an ISP as a student. College life is filled with deadlines! Enrollment deadlines, homework deadlines, online exams, term papers – every class and every assignment will have a deadline. Having an unreliable Internet connection that fails on you just as you try to submit your timed online exam or send in a term paper is a worst-case scenario, and unfortunately a reality, for many college students. Therefore, when researching what ISP companies service your area, reliability should be one of the first things you look in to before choosing a provider.
Your Internet company’s coverage area has a lot to do with the reliability of your Internet connection, but so does the type of connection. There are currently four different connection types you can choose from depending on your service provider and your location: cable, DSL, fiber and satellite. If you have cable television where you live cable Internet is most likely an option for you; cable Internet connections tend to be reliable but the downside to them is that during peak usage hours the connection may slow down. If your apartment, dorm, or home has hookups for a landline telephone than DSL Internet is an option for you. DSL Internet is more reliable the closer you are to the main hub so if you are going to school in a metro or urban area this may be a reliable and affordable option. Fiber Internet is currently the fastest connection on the market; unfortunately, it is not widely available yet in all areas. If your university itself is using a fiber Internet connection, and you live close to your campus, your neighborhood may have fiber Internet options. Metro areas are also more likely to have fiber than rural ones at this time. If you are attending school in a very rural area than you may be limited to a satellite option for your Internet. A satellite can be reliable but weather, proximity to receivers, and large file downloads and uploads may slow down your connection or affect your connection reliability.
The Data Cap Dilemma
Another area to inquire about during your Internet search is data caps. It is fairly uncommon to find a plan with zero data caps unless you are willing to pay a hefty monthly bill. But having unlimited data is not really necessary in most cases. You should assess your Internet usage taking personal and scholastic habits into account. For example, if you have a heavy class load that requires you to stream and watch a lot of videos, tutorials, power points, etc., which require large amounts of data regularly and you are also an avid online gamer in your free time, having a plan with a low or limited data plan will most likely not be sufficient for you. Also, if you will be sharing an Internet plan with housemates their usage should also be considered before deciding on a data plan for your home Internet.
What Internet Speed Do I Need as a Student?
Most students have a tendency to opt for the fastest Internet speed they can get, but this is often not necessary. While having the fastest Internet on the block may sound cool, why pay for a service you do not actually need? Internet that is too slow may make submitting homework or online exams a pain, but Internet that is extremely fast can also be extremely costly – and is often not needed. The trick to choosing an Internet speed for your household is to find the middle ground between a fast connection and an affordable price. Again, sharing an Internet connection with housemates or hosting frequent study groups in your apartment should also be considered before choosing a plan. A data speed that is too slow may result in problems with multiple people trying to stream content at once making study groups and apartment sharing an important consideration.
If you won’t be sharing your Internet, a plan with 6Mbps should be sufficient for standard homework use, everyday use and occasional streaming. If you will be sharing your WiFi with housemates, we recommend you look for a plan that offers anywhere from 10-25Mbps. And if you will be sharing your Internet with housemates and will also be holding frequent study groups in your home with a circle of laptops out all streaming the same assigned video, you are better off looking for a plan that offers around 50Mbps.
No matter which ISP or plan you decide to go with, make sure you ask about student discounts. Even Internet providers who don’t openly advertise a student discount most likely have one – you just need to be informed about these and you need to ask about them. Both Comcast and Xfinity are known for offering internet for students at an affordable rate and with a reliable connection, offering student discounts for those who qualify. Having the Internet in your home is an absolute MUST if you want to be successful in your college studies, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Make sure you search out a good student discount because they exist, even in the high-tech world of ISPs!