Could Buying an IPad Actually Save Students Money?

Getting an iPad can set students back between $500 and $850 depending upon the model purchased. But can buying Apple's uber-cool tablet actually allow individuals to save money during college? Learn about some useful iPad applications that could help to make buying the device a wise financial move. Schools offering Fashion Design & Merchandising degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

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The iPad in Higher Education

Apple released the iPad in 2010 to great fanfare. While the innovative tablet computer was a consumer favorite from the get-go, higher ed authorities were more reserved about the iPad's potential classroom impact. Many wondered to what extent Apple's tablet would be suited for the academic tasks and activities that make up much of the college experience. Some observers even speculated that the device would do more harm than good by distracting students with its multitudinous media and entertainment applications.

Two years and a new generation - iPad 2 - later, the popular consensus is that Apple's tablet has been a game-changer in higher education. Not all academics have endorsed the device for its practical learning benefit, but the iPad has become a common sight in college classrooms across the country. Students are utilizing applications like Evernote to record important concepts from lectures. Connect, a classroom management system, allows individuals to access study guides, practice tests, video lectures and other class materials. Professors are increasingly incorporating the iPad and other tablets into lesson planning.

That's not to mention that the iPad, given the impressive specs of the second-generation device, features stellar Web browsing, e-mail and multimedia functionality. What can make the iPad a tough sell among cost-conscious students, though, is that the device can't fully serve as a laptop replacement (the decision would be a lot simpler if it did). To many the iPad seems more of a luxury item that would be nice to have but that isn't necessary.

Money-Saving Features

While the iPad isn't a laptop replacement, it does sport functionality and features that can help students flourish in the college classroom. Whether these benefits are significant enough to merit buying the device will be up to each individual. Following are some cash-saving iPad features that can help to offset its significant cost:

Access to electronic textbooks. The College Board estimates that students at 4-year public institutions spend an average of $1,168 on books and other course materials. Buying or renting electronic textbooks can help to lower these costs. Kno, Inkling and CourseSmart are three iPad apps that allow users to read college textbooks and simultaneously take notes, create bookmarks and view embedded features. Campusbooks.com suggests that rented or purchased digital textbooks are cheaper than physical copies 92% of the time. In fact, etextbooks for iPad's CourseSmart app can cost half of what traditional textbooks do. Single chapters of required texts may also be available digitally, potentially eliminating the need to purchase the entire book.

Avoid tutoring fees. If you need to brush up on French verb conjugations or the finer points of quantum theory, answers are one touch away at iTunes U. Here you'll find more than 350,000 lectures, videos and podcasts - all free - from renowned colleges and universities across the United States. Not exclusive content for the iPad, these course materials can be accessed on traditional computers and a wide range of other electronic devices. With that said, the iPad does have design and functionality features that make it an ideal device on which to enhance one's learning - all at no additional cost.

Free communication tools. Another way to help make up some of the cost of an iPad: use it to lower your phone bill. The tablet features a number of apps that allow you to text, talk and video conference without using up minutes on your phone plan. TextNow is a free service that allows you to send and receive texts, picture messages and voice calls. Having difficulty meeting up with a classmate? The iPad's free Skype app enables face-to-face video conferencing. (Apple's own Face Time is another option for 'meeting' virtually with a fellow iPad owner.) Communications cost savings can quickly add up and help justify buying an iPad.

Cash-saving apps. Apps on the iPad can help you save money in other ways. When buying textbooks, whether physical copies or electronic versions, BigWords can help you find the best deal online. A Kayak app can help you save on holiday plane tickets home or spring break travel. For more everyday purchases the Coupon App and Coupon Sherpa services can yield savings. Another free application called Mint can help you budget for these and other expenses. You can also use the app to help trim spending and carry out other smart personal finance decisions.

Learn how the iPad and other electronic tablets are making textbooks cheaper and more effective.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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