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The typical college student can’t afford buying new and updated software every year for their computers. Buying the right software is one thing, but keeping up with the numerous updates will make the minds of any budget conscious student reel. College itself is expensive enough, and you can’t always be so flexible as to use the computer labs every time you need to type up an assignment. This is where the lovely freebies come into play. Here are 10 free programs for college students!

1. LibreOffice: A Free Word Processing Program for College Students

LibreOffice is the free alternative to Microsoft Office and iWork, but most importantly, it goes beyond the limited capabilities of OpenOffice as a open source software. If you don’t need the frills of a paid program and just need something that is compatible with all versions of Microsoft Office to write up your papers and create your presentations, then LibreOffice is for you. Especially if you need a little more capability with editing that online programs like GoogleDocs doesn’t give you.

2. Evernote: A Free Notetaking Program for College Students

Evernote is designed for notetaking and archiving–and for the busy student, it is an effective way to study smarter, not harder. You can still take handwritten notes and add them to your “notebook” by scanning or taking a snapshot.  It’s available on any computer you access, as well as your smartphone. You can make your “notebooks” public to enable collaboration. And with a free personal Evernote email address, you can send anything you need to your Evernote account. All for free. It beats DropBox, with its 2GB free limit (unless you increase the limit with tons of referrals), out of the water.

3. GIMP: A Free Photo Editing Program for College Students

GIMP is the free alternative to Photoshop when it comes to complicated image editing/manipulation. Sure, there’s a bit of a learning curve (especially for seasoned Photoshop users). But it gets the job done well. Considering that Photoshop is hundreds of dollars, even with a student discount, it’s worth the inconvenience. Especially for Mac users– is another option for PC users.

4. Mint: A Free Finance Budgeting Program for College Students is an amazing free online software that helps the poor college student budget his/her way through life. It helps your spending, shows detailed graphs of where the money goes, and helps you learn new ways to save. It can also remind you when your bills are due!

5. Audacity: A Free Audio Editing Program for College Students

Audacity is the techno-phobe’s friend. You can use it to make ringtones and do basic audio-editing/trimming–the most any typical college student will need (unless you are a music production/film major or something like that).

6. Malwarebytes: A Free Anti-Virus Program for College Students

Malwarebytes is, as my friend calls it, the best friend for any Windows computer. Download this anti-malware program to clean up your computer and protect it from daily harm!

7. Grooveshark: A Free Music Program for College Students

If you’re looking for an online radio site, look no further than Grooveshark. Not only does it do everything Pandora does, it does everything Pandora makes you pay for, for FREE. It starts with the song you wanted, it lets you skip as many songs as you like, you can either make your own playlist or put it on a radio function so that it can decide your songs for you, and you can play whole albums or an artist’s entire catalogue. For free. Doesn’t get much better than that.

8. VLC: A Free Video Player for College Students

VLC does exactly what it promises: it plays all media file types, on any operating system, for free. If you’re looking for media library management, this is not that program. I’ve been using it for years, and I am a strong advocate for this program as it gets better with each update.

9. iProcrastinate: A Free Task Management App for College Students

iProcrastinate is a simple but powerful task management app you can get for free from the iTunes app store. It’s only available via Mac and iPhone as of now, but they are planning to release a PC version very soon. So be on the lookout!

10. Skype: A Free Video Chat Program for College Students

Oh, Skype, how I love you. A free video chat program that includes screen sharing and has even introduced group video calling for a 7-day trial! A note for taking advantage of this: only 1 person needs to activate the trial for everyone to use it, so if you have a group of 4+ people, you can use this function multiple times for free! ooVoo is another option that offers group video chat for free, though it isn’t as streamlined as Skype is in my opinion. (P.S. if you haven’t been using Skype already/haven’t heard of it: what rock have you been living under?)

There you have it, 10 free programs/online software that gives you all the functionality you need to survive in college.


Photo courtesy of Quentin Meulepas via Flickr (licensed under CC BY 2.0).


What Free Programs do you use in College? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.