Microsoft Office Discounts and Free Alternatives for Students

With classes starting back up it won’t be long before the first sets of papers and assignments are due. However, with Microsoft Office normally costing as much as $400 it makes sense to shop around and find other (read: less expensive) offers. The list below outlines some options for inexpensive ways to purchase Microsoft Office and some viable free alternatives.

This is the first in a series of posts on finding and using software and services. Upcoming posts will share information on saving your documents to the cloud, software for editing images, multimedia software and more.

Table of Contents

Purchasing Microsoft Office at a Discounted Rate

Microsoft Office 360

Microsoft officeFollowing in the footsteps of other software companies Microsoft has recently launched Office 360. This is a service where you essentially rent the program with a monthly fee. The lowest cost plan is $6.99 a month and allows installation on 1 computer and 1 tablet device (the higher costing plans offer more services and more install options).

Information on Office 360 can be found at the Microsoft store here:

Microsoft Office at OnTheHub

OnTheHubOne of the nice things about being a student is that there are many options for reduced cost software if you know where to look. The University of Akron and have come together to offer discounted (and sometimes free) software. Through this service, which can be accessed at, there are several versions of Microsoft Office available for both Windows and Mac.

Windows: Microsoft Office for Windows (2010, 2013) – available for $60

Mac: Microsoft Office for Mac (2011) – available for $60

The student discounts here are even cheaper than what Microsoft offers to students via their website and are extremely discounted as Office 2013 Professional normally sells for $399.99.

To access onthehub click here: You will need to provide your UAnet ID and password to get in.

Free Alternatives

*Note: all of these are compatible with Microsoft Office and can produce Microsoft Office files and PDFs.

iWork (Mac only)

Last year Apple announced that all new iOS and OS X based products will be eligible for a free copy of a slimmed down version of their iWork office suite. This includes: Pages, Keynote, and Numbers. A word processor, PowerPoint-type presentation program, and a spreadsheet program respectively.

While the files produced from these programs cannot be opened by Microsoft Office, iWork does allow you to export the files as Microsoft files or PDFs.

If you have purchased an iOS or OS X based product in the last year you should be able to access this deal via the Apple App Store.

Google Drive (Docs, Sheets, and Slides)

GoogleGoogle Docs and their other office apps have the strong advantage of being a free service. On the fly the service is great for editing documents when no other programs are available.

The Google apps can handle of the typical Microsoft Office files – Word document files, PowerPoint files, Excel files, etc. However, when uploaded to and edited with Drive the documents are converted into a different format that Google uses. When downloading the file again it offers the option of downloading the file as different file types, including those used by Microsoft.

This is also a powerful tool for collaboration outside of the classroom. The owner of a file can share it with others and the one document can be edited at the same time by those with which it was shared.

A major issue with this is that it depends on an internet connection. If the internet goes out you can no longer edit your document. However, the plus side is that your documents are always accessible as long as you have an internet connection and a device to access it.


OpenOfficeLogoOpenOffice is an open-source alternative to Microsoft Office. The suite has been out for 12 years so it has had years to develop and become a set of powerful tools. It includes a word processor, a spreadsheet program similar to Excel, a presentation program, and even a drawing program among others. It can open, save, and edit Microsoft Office documents as well as a variety of other file formats. OpenOffice is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.

Click here to access the OpenOffice website:


LibreOffice_external_logo_300pxLibreOffice is another Microsoft alternative that was actually built upon OpenOffice’s source code. As a result the two suites are actually very similar with most of the differences being in the user interface. Like OpenOffice the program is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Click here to access the LibreOffice website:

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