Best Internet Plans and Discounts for Students

  • Spectrum
    • Includes unlimited data
    • Provides discounts on mobile plans
  • Xfinity
    • Offers a wide selection
    • Includes perks like Amazon Music Unlimited
  • Frontier
    • Includes unlimited data
    • Offers cheap fiber plans

Students rely on the internet now more than ever, so having a good internet connection is an essential part of their daily routine. Students need a connection that’s fast, reliable, and affordable.

With school back in session and the holidays fast approaching, now is an excellent time to find the best internet deals for students. But the search is no simple task, so we’re here to help you track down the best plans, discounts, bundles, and special offers for students.

Find internet providers available in your area by entering your zip code.

Government internet plans for students

The government offers programs for students to help them get internet service. These programs apply to different people in different situations and work with different internet service providers (ISPs). 

To start, determine which programs apply to you. You might even qualify for multiple programs for discounted internet, depending on your income and other government programs you use.

Lifeline

Lifeline is a program provided by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to lower the cost of telephone service, internet service, or a combination of both for low-income households. Qualifying families can receive up to $9.25 in monthly discounts for one service or bundle only.

To qualify, households must have an income that is 135% or below the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or participate in federal programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, and Federal Public Housing Assistance.

Use the National Verifier application system to see if you qualify for this program.

Enhanced Lifeline

This version of Lifeline is for low-income households on Tribal lands. Families can receive a discount of up to $34.25 per month, and up to a $100 discount on installment fees. Use the National Verifier application system to see if you qualify.

Affordable Connectivity Program

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) subsidizes monthly internet bills for low-income families. Qualified households receive $30 per month toward their internet bill, but households on Tribal land or high-cost areas may be eligible for enhanced support of up to $75 per month.4

To qualify, one household member must be enrolled in specific social programs (Lifeline, SNAP, WIC, National School Lunch Program, and others)—or a member can qualify based on income.

The ACP went into effect on December 31, 2021. Following that, there is a 60-day transition period where those who currently qualify for the EBB program can continue to receive those benefits.

The ACP replaces the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program initially created to help those dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Connect2Compete

EveryoneOn started as a public awareness campaign in 2012. Now it’s a national nonprofit that works with internet providers to connect homes to low-cost internet and furnish affordable devices, like tablets and computers, to qualifying homes to use.

EveryoneOn’s Find Offers tool helps you locate ACP-based low-cost internet and devices in your area. Just enter your zip code.

EveryoneOn also has the Connect2Compete (C2C) program, which provides affordable internet services to low-income homes with K-12 students. Pricing typically costs $10 to $20 per month. Cox and Mediacom participate in this program.

Internet provider discounts for students

Many internet providers also offer programs designed to help students. Here are five:

Xfinity student discounts

Xfinity is one of the largest cable internet providers in the US. It offers exclusive deals to students attending specific colleges and universities.

Xfinity’s off-campus student deals start at $55 per month for the most basic plan. Xfinity is very upfront about its student offers and has a much wider selection than most other ISPs.

Be aware that Xfinity’s regular rates apply once the promotional period ends. These deals also require a one-year commitment, so be sure to factor that into your budget.

If you’re an on-campus student, Xfinity on Campus is exclusive to dorms and other on-campus housing.

Internet Essentials

Finally, Xfinity provides an Internet Essentials program for students. This program supplies access to Xfinity Wi-Fi Hotspots, a free wireless gateway, and cable internet with download speeds of up to 100 Mbps for just $29.95 per month. Approved students can also purchase a computer for $149.99 plus tax.

Students must be eligible for public assistance programs (NSLP, Medicaid, SNAP, and so on) to qualify for Xfinity’s program. To apply, simply complete Xfinity’s online form (optimized for mobile).

See Xfinity Student Deals
HSI badge deals

Xfinity Deal: $30 Internet + Streaming

Get Xfinity internet and streaming for as low as $30/mo. when you add a regularly priced Xfinity Mobile plan (starting at $45/mo.). Plus, get extra perks like unlimited data and no-cost equipment for plans with speeds 300 Mbps and above.

Available through 2022

PlanSpeedPriceBundle Discount
Connect50 Mbps$30/mo.$10Order Online
Connect More100 Mbps$40/mo.$10Order Online
Fast300 Mbps$55/mo.*$20Order Online
Superfast600 Mbps$70/mo.$25Order Online
Ultrafast900 Mbps$75/mo.$25Order Online
Gigabit Extra1200 Mbps$80/mo.$30Order Online

Spectrum student discounts

Spectrum’s network covers some on-campus housing. Spectrum’s internet deals for students provide fast speeds with no data caps—a killer combination for students who stream hours of lectures every day.

The Spectrum Internet 100 plan is an exclusive service for households eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program.5 It costs $29.99 per month, but customers are essentially reimbursed by the program’s $30 monthly credit, making this internet service free.

Spectrum also offers its Spectrum Mobile plan, giving you access to its network of Wi-Fi hotspots, so you’re not tethered to your dorm or packed into a crowded coffee shop.

See Spectrum Student Deals

Frontier student internet plans

While Xfinity focuses on college undergrads, Frontier offers something for every kind of student , from grad students to homeschooled K–12 kids.

Frontier gives you a lot of options. If you need a plan with high upload speeds, it’s got that. If you need Wi-Fi to study on the go, it’s got that. Just need a ton of bandwidth to keep all your roommates happy? It’s got that too.

An important thing to note is that Frontier’s discounts apply only for the first 12 months, which is a considerably shorter time than it takes to acquire a degree. It’s also not as widely available as Xfinity, so check to see if it’s available in your area first.

See Frontier Student Deals

AT&T student internet programs

In 2020, AT&T announced a $10 million commitment to support education in underserved communities.1  The company partnered with the nonprofit Connected Nation and pledged to provide Wi-Fi hotspots and free internet service to struggling students.

While applications for school districts and nonprofits are now closed, Connected Nation reports that 35,000 hotspots now cover 81 schools and 43 nonprofits nationwide as of August 2022.2

For example, the Albany Fund for Education and The Salvation Army of Saratoga Springs delivered 1,000 hotspots combined along with a year of free internet connectivity to students lacking internet resources.3

Additionally, AT&T offered free and discounted lines to schools and teachers based on the number of participating students until January 22, 2021.1  These schools can add additional lines at the same price until December 29, 2022.

Access from AT&T

The Access program provides a wireless gateway and internet access with speeds of up to 100 Mbps for just $30 per month or less. Households with students must participate in SNAP to qualify—SSI for California residents. This plan requires no annual contract or deposit.

Due to COVID-19, AT&T temporarily expanded this program to include students enrolled in the National School Lunch and Head Start Programs. It also extended the program to households with low income. Refer to AT&T’s chart for more information about income limits.

Optimum discounts

The Altice Advantage Internet program provides internet access to qualified households for $14.99 per month. The program includes a free modem and router, download speeds of up to 50 Mbps, and unlimited data.

Qualified households must be eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or Supplemental Security Income (ages 65 and older). Students must reside in New York City and attend public school.

For more information on government programs for students, check out our page on government programs for affordable internet.

Do any other internet providers offer student discounts?

Not all ISPs advertise student discounts. Call a sales representative to see if they have any discounts for qualified students—it never hurts to ask. If the ISP doesn’t have student-specific discounts, you might find another discount that works for your situation.

Are there any free internet options for students?

Certain government programs, such as the Lifeline program, can help low-income families cover their internet bills. The program doesn’t offer free internet itself, but it can cover some or all of the cost of your monthly internet bill when combined with other offers from ISPs. Read our guide to government programs for internet assistance to find out more.

Several companies offer completely free internet plans, such as NetZero and FreedomPop. The plans aren’t particularly fast, so while they might do in a pinch, they’re probably not a long-term solution for getting through your undergrad.

T-Mobile introduced Project 10Million in 2020, which provides a free hotspot and free internet for households eligible for the National School Lunch Program or a similar government program. Students can use 100GB of data per year for five years without paying a dime. Parents can purchase an Android tablet, Windows laptop, or Chromebook through T-Mobile at a discount.

If you’re motivated, there are more ambitious ways of getting around your internet bill, such as constructing a community mesh network. Fortunately, college is an excellent place to make some innovative friends that can pitch in and help.

For more ideas, read more about how to get free internet.

Can I bundle student internet with TV?

Generally, most internet plans for students can’t bundle TV. If you want TV, make sure your plan explicitly includes it. Otherwise, you probably won’t be able to simply add TV to your discounted plan the way you would to a standard plan.

Xfinity offers student internet plans that include TV services . It also gives you access to shows via the Xfinity Stream app, which offers a rotating selection of television shows. Xfinity also has a Flex 4K streaming device and the X1 TV Box, giving you live TV access. You can add both of these devices to student internet packages.

If the best internet plan for students doesn’t give you an option to add TV, you can still get a discount on TV through DISH. DISH provides a discount on satellite TV to students, and unlike most ISPs, DISH is available anywhere in the US. As long as you have a place to install a satellite dish, you can get discounted satellite TV.

If Xfinity and DISH aren’t viable options, you may still be able to find great bundle deals from other providers without the need for a student plan. We provide a listing of the best TV and internet bundles from Optimum, Spectrum, and more.

What to look for in a student internet plan

While cost is often a major factor, make sure that the plan you choose meets your educational needs. In the face of tight deadlines, a reliable internet connection is often even more important than a fast connection.

Many factors go into reliability, from disruptions that impact certain kinds of connections to the responsiveness of internet service providers (ISPs) when networks go down.

Pro Tip:

Check what customers say about internet provider reliability in our annual customer satisfaction report.

Even so, speed is still an important factor—especially if you’re sharing an internet plan with roommates.

An excellent first step in finding the right balance for your internet connection is identifying how you plan to use it. Here are some examples of how much internet speed you’ll need for everyday student internet activities:

ActivityRecommended download speedRecommended upload speed
General online studying/surfing1 Mbps1 Mbps
Watching lectures2.5 Mbps2.5 Mbps
Uploading/downloading a Word doc1 Mbps1 Mbps
Uploading/downloading a Git repository10 Mbps10 Mbps
Uploading/downloading HD video25 Mbps25 Mbps
Making a Zoom call1.5 Mbps1.5 Mbps

Studying

Are you looking up information for an assignment or cramming for a test? Fortunately, even long nights full of web surfing don’t require a lot of speed or data. Web pages with just text and images have no issues on a 1 Mbps connection. But if you watch a lot of videos, you’ll probably want download speeds closer to 5–25 Mbps.

Watching lectures

You will need a reliable connection to watch lectures online. Streaming video can use a lot of download bandwidth, and to participate in the discussion, you’ll need a decent upload speed too. Software like Skype or Zoom will drop your call if your internet speed doesn’t meet the minimum speed requirement.

For example, Zoom can still run on a relatively slow connection, maintaining a 1080p video stream on just 2.5 Mbps. But if your speed drops below that threshold for any reason, your call could drop. A broadband connection usually doesn’t have this problem, but connections with high latency, like satellite internet, might have issues.

If available, use the voice-only option to improve your performance issues.

Uploading assignments

Cable and DSL internet connections can give you fast download speeds but don’t prioritize upload speeds the same way. This isn’t usually a problem for tasks like web surfing or video streaming. But if you frequently upload files, get a fiber connection with equal upload and download speeds.

Are you uploading big files for school?

See if fiber internet is available near you so you can capitalize on symmetrical upload speeds.

Depending on what you study, the connection speed you need for schoolwork could vary wildly. If most of your assignments are simply papers, you can get by on a 1 Mbps connection. If you’re in a field like computer science and need to check and recheck a large codebase, you might want a faster internet plan. A 10 Mbps upload speed can make this an easy process.

If you study something like video production, uploading your big project could take all night, as even some of the faster types of internet, like cable, often have low upload speeds. Although you can get by with less speed, this can be very frustrating, so we suggest looking for an upload speed of 25 Mbps.

Staying connected

Staying connected with friends and family is important when you’re living away from home.

You can usually get by on a 1.5–5 Mbps connection when you use Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom. However, you might need either a more reliable internet plan (switching from DSL to fiber, for example) or a plan with faster speeds if you experience spotty connections.

Do you use the internet for highly specialized tasks or relaxing after a hard day of work? Find out how much speed you need.

How Much Speed Do I Need?

Bottom line: Get Xfinity if it’s available in your area

If you’re a student looking for a cheap, reliable internet plan, look to Xfinity first if it’s in your area. It’s one of the most broadly available cable internet providers with explicit student discounts and a wide selection of offers, including bundles with TV. It’s also upfront about its plans and pricing, so it’s easy to compare plans without calling a sales agent first.

If Xfinity isn’t available in your area or you want to see if there are better offers elsewhere, Frontier and Spectrum also advertise student discounts. Other ISPs might also offer a discount if you talk to an agent.

Finally, be sure to look at nonprofits and government programs. There are several programs for helping students connect to the internet and programs to get discounted PCs and laptops. You can even get discounted satellite TV through DISH.

Whether it’s your first year in the dorms, your last year of high school, or your seventh year of grad school, chances are there’s an internet deal that will fit your needs.

Enter your zip code below to see if Xfinity is available in your area.

Disclaimers

For Xfinity Fast internet plan w/ mobile deal

* Limited time offer. Restrictions apply. Not available in all areas. Limited to Fast Internet for new customers. Pricing requires enrollment in both automatic payments and paperless billing. Mobile discount limited to new Xfinity Mobile customers. Xfinity Mobile requires residential post-pay Xfinity Internet. xFi Gateway, Unlimited Data and Flex device included for 24 mos. Additional devices extra. After 24 mos. regular rates apply to all services and devices. Streaming subscriptions not included. All devices must be returned when service ends.

For Xinity Superfast, Ultrafast, and Gigabit Extra internet plans w/ mobile deals

† Offer ends 06/26/2022. Limited time offer. Restrictions apply. Not available in all areas. New residential customers only. Paperless Billing and Automatic Payments with bank account required, otherwise monthly service charge automatically increases by $10 (or $5 if enrolling with credit or debit card information). Discount will appear on statement within 45 days of enrollment. Equipment, installation, taxes and fees, and other applicable charges extra, and subject to change during and after the promo. After promo, or if any service is canceled or downgraded, regular rates apply (subject to change). Service limited to a single outlet. May not be combined with other offers. Internet: Actual speeds vary and are not guaranteed. For factors affecting speed visit www.xfinity.com/networkmanagement. Flex: Not available in all areas or to current Xfinity Video customers. Requires post-paid subscription to Xfinity Internet, excluding Internet Essentials. Pricing subject to change. Limited to 3 devices. 1 device included, additional devices $5/mo. per device. All devices must be returned when service ends. Separate charges apply to On Demand and certain streaming services. Viewing will count against any Comcast data plan. Mobile discount: Must sign up for Xfinity Mobile and activate a new line within 90 days of order and maintain the line to receive mobile discount for 24 months. Discount applied to Internet bill and will appear on statement within 30 days of Xfinity Mobile line activation. If Xfinity Mobile or Xfinity Internet is canceled, or Internet service is changed to a tier lower than the Xfinity Internet tier in this order within the 24 months, the multi-product discount will be removed.

For Xfinity Mobile Broadband Disclosures visit: www.xfinity.com/mobile/policies/broadband-disclosures. 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee applies to one month’s recurring service and standard installation charges up to $500. ©2022 Comcast. All rights reserved.

Sources

  1. AT&T, “Enabling Connected Learning with Discounted Wireless Data Plans and Free Wi-Fi Hotspots,” November 12, 2020. Accessed November 13, 2020.
  2. Connected Nation, “Awareness Announced!” Accessed July 14, 2021.
  3. Saratoga Today, ”Salvation Army Receives Hotspots to Help Address Homework Gap,” July 8, 2021. Accessed July 14, 2021.
  4. Federal Communication Commission, “Wireline Competition Bureau Seeks Comment on the Implementation of the Affordable Connectivity Program,” November 18, 2021. Accessed November 30, 2021.
  5. Charter Communications, “Charter Communications Launches Spectrum Internet 100,” March 31, 2022. Accessed April 27, 2022.

Author -

Peter Christiansen writes about satellite internet, rural connectivity, livestreaming, and parental controls for HighSpeedInternet.com. Peter holds a PhD in communication from the University of Utah and has been working in tech for over 15 years as a computer programmer, game developer, filmmaker, and writer. His writing has been praised by outlets like Wired, Digital Humanities Now, and the New Statesman.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.