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Best Cheap Printer for Students 2024: Budget Printers for College

What's the best cheap printer for students in 2024?
Last Updated on March 11, 2024
Best Cheap Printer for Students

Though you can’t expect the very best printer for your college coursework, some of the best cheap printers for students manage to rival them in quality and affordability. If you’re about to start school, college or another new form of study and want the right printer for all your essential needs, it’s important to get one that you can not only afford outright, but is affordable in the long term.

We’ve compiled our recommendations for the best cheap printers for students, factoring in different needs and applications. Whether you just need to print out the occasional essay or have to create massive portfolios of work, we’ve got you covered with printers for every duty cycle!

Products at a Glance

How We Picked the Best Cheap Printer for Students

Normally with our top printer rankings, the focus is less on cost and more on quality – such as with the best printer for graphic design – though we try to include budget-friendly variants in our lists. Our process is reversed for the best cheap printers, as we prioritize the cost. We still choose the best printers from an array of key factors such as print quality, connectivity and overall ink economy; but these are all budget printers.

We’ve settled on five models today that are all top-notch cheap printers, ideal for students of a range of disciplines. Each has their respective merits, and we’ve broken down what each choice has over the others – but all are great cheap printers for students!

Our Recommended

Product Reviews

1
PROS
  • Versatile print options
  • Easy to use
  • Plenty of connectivity options
CONS
  • Media tray located at rear

Though it’s since been surpassed by the ET-2850, the Epson EcoTank ET-280 remains a tremendous printer, with stellar quality making it the best cheap printer for students on the market today! Versatile and capable, this budget printer is ideal for prints of any variety.

Alongside standard documents, the ET-2800 is capable of a great deal more: from borderless photos through to stylish art prints, making it an asset to anyone studying a creative craft. Print wired or wirelessly from a range of other devices, and receive great results – with the Ink Tank printer creating colorful and detailed prints no matter the format.

However, for anything other than standard paper, you’ll have to load it via the poorly designed rear media tray, which is cumbersome if you’re working with limited space. It’s a small hurdle, and doesn’t stop the ET-2800 from being our top cheap printer for students!

2
PROS
  • Highly affordable
  • Compact and lightweight
CONS
  • Monochrome printing

If all you need is fast and effective standard documents, the LBP6030w from Canon is the ideal cheap printer for students’ essays or other works. Fast and compact, this printer is unassuming but highly useful.

Alongside it’s affordability, the LBP6030w also keeps your energy bills low – drawing on only 2W of power. The 150-sheet paper tray and high-yield ink cartridges make for infrequent refills, as one dose of toner can produce as many as 1,600 plain documents.

They will only be documents, however, as this is limited by its form factor to being a black-and-white laser printer. For a barebones print solution that’s highly affordable, though, it’s hard to beat the LBP6030w!

3
PROS
  • Tiny form factor
  • Color prints
  • Built-in scanner
CONS
  • Inconsistent wireless printing

If you want to print in color without spending as much as the ET-2800 costs, consider the Canon Pixma MG3620. This InkJet printer from Canon straddles a low price point and great print versatility, making it highly suited to students.

Capable of printing color photos as well as documents, the MG3620 makes for a great multipurpose print solution. It even has a built-in document scanner. Prints are completed quickly and to a high standard, which is impressive given the compact nature of this model. Considering how little space the average student has to work with, this cheap printer makes for a great addition to their educational arsenal.

One element that’s less than ideal is the wireless feature included with the printer: wireless printing is always our preferred method of printing, but the MG3620’s poor quality makes wired printing the default. If you aren’t bothered by cables and want a good all-rounder printer, then this is the perfect solution for you!

4
PROS
  • Plenty of quality-of-life features
  • Intuitive controls
CONS
  • Poor ink economy

Brother printers frequently make our rankings, especially as affordable printer options, and the MFC-J1010DW is no exception. Another InkJet printer, this unit is versatile and affordable, making for a winning combination.

Capable of printing high-quality borderless photos along with a built-in scanner, the MFC-J1010DW combines a great many of the top features of our favorite printers into another great offering. It employs an intuitive LCD touchscreen to allow you to configure your prints with ease, and you have a suite of connection options available – from wired to wireless.

So why isn’t this the best cheap printer for students? The MFC-J1010DW’s undoing comes in it’s ink economy: due to the higher cost-per-print, this printer loses points in the affordability column. As another versatile pick from Brother, however, this definitely remains a viable printer for students!

5
PROS
  • Simple setup
  • Fast print speeds
CONS
  • Low page yield
  • Monochrome only

Today’s final pick for the best cheap printer for students is the Pantum P2502W, another budget printer popular among students. Producing fast monochrome prints with a price tag under $100, this laser printer is highly suited for those looking to save money – the goal of every student everywhere.

With a 22 pages-per-minute print speed, the P2502W is great for quick prints of lengthy essays or source texts. Print wirelessly or via the USB port on the unit, for quick and simple connectivity. For such a low price point, this underrated printer for students does a lot with a little.

However, the printer cartridges that come with the P2502W don’t follow this philosophy, with the standard toner package only rated for around 700 documents – though you can pay extra for cartridges that yield up to 1,600 pages. If you need high-volume but infrequent printing, the Pantum P2502W is the best cheap printer for students like you!

Features and Considerations

Before investing in another cheap printer for students not featured today, consider the following factors:

Ink Economy

Though a cheap price tag is appealing, remember that printers operate with a “razor and blades” model of business: a cheap printer will often overcharge on the ink. We’ve tried to pick printers with reasonable ink economies – namely how many prints on average you can garner per cartridge – but this will vary depending on use cases.

Print Quality

If you’re planning on printing more specialist media for crafting projects or the like, make sure that your choice of printer is capable of printing to a suitable resolution. For standard images, we recommend no lower than 600 dots per inch (DPI).

Print Speed

On the other end of the spectrum, if speed is the aim of the game, consider whether your printer can keep up with your workload. A generally great print speed is around the 15 pages-per-minute mark.

Connectivity

Given that many students operate over a shared WiFi network, wireless connectivity may not always be the preferred print method. If you want to keep the number of connected devices to a minimum, consider a printer with only a wired or Bluetooth connection.

InkJet vs Laser Printers: Which are Better for Students?

Having varied print options at hand can be useful for students: if you have a sudden new creative project due or want a more versatile device, it’s good to have a printer that’s capable of helping you solve the issue. This is why we’ve recommended a number of InkJet printers on today’s list.

InkJet printers use liquid ink cartridges to create richer colors, and are capable of printing onto an array of specialist media formats with great detail. This makes them useful for everything from greeting cards all the way through to large canvas prints – whilst still able to print off documents.

However, they are generally more expensive than standard laser printers – with today’s selection being the exceptions that prove the rule – and that extra expense is redundant if you only plan to print standard documents.

In other words, laser printers are best suited to students printing simple essays, sources and other plain-text documents; whilst InkJet printers are ideal for those with a creative streak!

Why do I need a printer for college?

Whilst many schools and colleges now have printers that can be used by any students, they often charge heavily to print – which can build quickly if you have to print often and in large volumes. Having your own printer is initially expensive, but can save you money in the long-term.

Can I connect my printer to campus WiFi?

This will vary from college to college, but it’s generally not recommended that you connect your printer to a large public network such as campus WiFi. Most printers offer WiFi Direct, which is a single connection between your device and the printer, which is generally the best way to wirelessly print.

Our Verdict

As a tremendous all-rounder printer, the Epson ET-2800 takes the top spot as our best cheap printer for students! As one of the most affordable InkJet printers on the market, this high-quality and versatile unit is ideal for students of any school to print varied and detailed documents, images, or other specialist media!

Are you a teacher rather than a student? Check out our guide on the best printers for teachers today!