Don’t Let Your Kid Buy Laptop Or Tablet At College Store, Unless You’re OK With Paying 35% More

When I was in college, a new computer cost about as much as a used car and it often involved a family trip to the mall with parents who tried to haggle over the price tag. But now that you can get a decent laptop or tablet for a few hundred dollars, parents may be tempted to tell their college-enrolled kids to just pick one up through the school’s store. That could be a costly mistake.

The folks at DealNews looked at prices for laptops and tablets at online stores for a handful of the country’s top-ranked colleges (including the greatest school to ever allow me to graduate), and found that 68% of the time you’ll do better by shopping elsewhere.

The average price difference was 35%, but in some cases, this disparity between off-campus prices and those charged by college stores is significantly larger.

I got flashbacks of being fleeced by the University of Virginia bookstore when I read that it was trying to sell a first-generation 16GB iPad mini $469 — a tablet that DealNews can be purchased for as little as $199 this summer if you know where to look. And as the site points out, that price tag is still $70 more than you’ll pay to buy the newer version of the tablet directly from Apple.

DealNews also warns consumers to not assume that Apple’s educational discount will save them the most money. The site found instances in which retailers were offering deals that could save you up to $50 more than the Apple discount.