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The best software and hardware doesn't have to be out of your reach just because you are a student.
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updated 7/29/2011 2:38:57 PM ET 2011-07-29T18:38:57

When I was in college, the last thing I ever wanted to think about was finances, money and whether or not I could afford something or not. Worrying about money isn't any fun, especially when you're trying to learn, broaden your horizons, get yourself educated and, let's face it, have some fun.

Luckily, there are great ways to save some cash on hardware and software as a student and keep a little extra money in your pocket. Mom and Dad will love you for it. Even if you aren't in college, you can still take advantage of these helpful tips. Microsoft and Apple are big purveyors of educational discounts and likely offer a less expensive way for students to find what they need.

Buying software from your college's bookstore is a great way to save cash on expensive software suites. Most expensive programs have student editions that feature full or almost-full versions of the software for students to learn on. If you're an aspiring screenwriter in school, Final Draft has a much cheaper student version. Photoshop and other pro applications also can be found discounted at campus software shops.

Some of this software is discounted hundreds of dollars. With the pro versions of software at your disposal and incentivized pricing, there's no reason not to outfit yourself with the best programs that many industries consider standard.

Microsoft
There are few names in software as prominent as Microsoft. With that omnipotence in the software world comes a huge undertaking by the company to make its products and services available to students to learn, use and work on. Microsoft has a portal specifically for students, to help them find the best deals on software and services, called Microsoft Student. Office, the standard office suite, is heavily discounted for students and gives up-and-comers a chance to use the full version without limitation. The Windows 7 operating system is also discounted for aspiring system builders or computer tech staff.

The resources and dealslisted on the Microsoft Student website are pretty comprehensive, offering students tons of sources to learn about different industries, products, deals, app creation and more. Students looking to break into the software industry might find their calling while saving money on software. Sign up for the student newsletter for updates on student software and services, as well as partner services.

(Msnbc.com is a Microsoft-NBC Universal joint venture.)

For years, Apple has been giving K-12 schools and colleges huge discounts on systems and software to train new generations of students on the OS X platform. That trend continues today, with Apple's education store and discounts. Some schools have Apple-affiliated stores that offer discounts, or students can go to Apple's store directly to receive discounts.

Apple usually applies student and educational discounts to laptops, desktop systems, software and certain accessories. Sorry, but you probably aren't going to be able to save on the new, awesome iPod when it comes out. Sadly, the iPad 2 is also not part of the student discount program, despite all of the revolutionary educational features of the tablet.

Usually during the summer, however, Apple announces its back-to-school deals, where iPods are bundled together with new systems for students heading back to their respective learning institutions. If you're waiting to buy a system and want an iPod thrown in, wait just a little bit longer for this cool "educational" freebie. I mean, sure, I'll listen to my lectures on it...

The best software and hardware doesn't have to be out of your reach as a student. Checking your campus' store regularly and going directly to software and hardware developers for student discounts can end up saving you a good chunk of change. Do remember to spend some time learning, as well.

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