As a college student, you are often required to submit assignments, presentations, reports, and case studies. Sometimes you may also need to scan and copy important documents such as your resume, proof of ID, etc. You can do all this work with the help of the computer lab or some local store. Or you can choose to use your very own personal printer.

What to look for when buying a printer for college?

Depending on how frequently you need to print, and how many pages you need to print you can choose the right printer for your needs. And let’s not forget that as a college student, your budget is probably going to be rather limited, so you need to buy the best product that fits in that budget, and also does everything you need it to do. But first and foremost, you need to decide on what kind of documents you will be printing. Will they be color documents or monochrome? Are you primarily going to be printing web pages, spreadsheets, and assignments? If so, any black and white laser printer will do. If you are not sure whether you will need color printouts in the future, you can still invest in an inkjet printer. Color inkjets are easily available at the same price as monochrome laser printers. The biggest advantages that a laser printer gives you over an inkjet, is the printing speed and low cost of operation. If you are going to be printing a whole bunch of monochrome pages every day, definitely go for a laser, you will save both time and money in the long run. But let’s say you also need to scan and email documents to people, or you need to create copies and color presentations with beautiful little graphs and pie charts, then an all-in-one inkjet is going to be your best friend.

Remember- cheap all-in-one inkjet printers have a low initial cost but are extremely high cost of operation. The ink cartridges for a cheap inkjet may end up costing 30% as much as the actual printer. Over the course of a few months, you will have spent enough money on ink cartridges to double on the cost of the printer itself. If you are absolutely certain that you will only need 100 -150 pages a month, go for a cheap all-in-one inkjet. Any more than that and it is worth investing in a more costly inkjet designed for home-office usage. Or you could get a monochrome laser. Now let’s take a look at which printers we think you should buy as a college student.

SHOP for printer ink cartridges, laser toner cartridgesprinter ribbons, and printers.

Best Printers For College Students UNDER $100

Brother MFC-J480DW

Pro: Duplex printing, lots of connectivity options.
Con: Interface takes some time to get familiar with.

Very reliable, highly functional, cheap on your pocket, made by Brother. That’s pretty much what this printer offers you, and let’s not forget the bunch of options that you have to connect the printer directly to your Android phone or iPhone, and do all your scanning, printing, and copying right from the app installed in your phone. The J480DW is capable of duplex printing, a really welcome feature at this price range, saves a lot of paper and your precious student money. It produces crisp, sharp-looking documents and photos which is why the J480DW is a great addition to any college dorm room.

Besides, your new plastic roommate happens to be really quiet so you can stop worrying about disturbing your real roommates, and the 20 sheets automatic document feeder on the top allows you to spend less time feeding the printer, which is a really boring task that none of us like to do. Although it has a 1.8″ LCD display with a bunch of buttons on it, the interface might take some time to get used to, especially for students who have not had a lot of printer operating experience prior to this point.

Canon Pixma MX922

Pro: Amazing printing and scanning quality.
Con: Large size, noisy.

If you are a college student who is also into photography and image editing, then we highly recommend you get one of these. You are going to love its extremely high-resolution printing, which reproduces every single detail you had captured on your HD camera. The Pixma MX922 can produce a 4″ by 6″ borderless photo in 21 seconds flat, and its. Making posters and photos has never been easier, thanks to the Pixmas Movie Print feature that allows you to capture any moment from your favorite HD movie or video and print it out in true to life detail on paper in a matter of seconds.

The built-in copy function can be used to duplicate photos and documents, and a high resolution 2400×4800 dpi scanner lets you scan and mail documents and papers that are hard to distinguish from the originals. Comes with all functions you need such as scan, copy, fax, and duplex printing. An automatic 30 sheet document feeder takes care of loading for you and the built-in wireless connectivity allows you to operate the printer from the comfort of your bed or couch with a tap of the screen on your smartphone.

HP Envy 4520 All-In-One

Pro: Really compact and lightweight, nice quality print.
Con: Scanner isn’t the best, consumes a lot of ink.

The cheap HP printers have a reputation for being extremely gimmicky when it comes to marketing tactics. They have a very low initial cost but their cartridges are so damn expensive that within a few months you end up spending more on ink than you did on the printer. Their printers are equipped with HP Instant Ink- a feature that allows the printer to automatically order ink cartridges from whichever online retailer HP pays to support them so that you end up paying even more in ink costs. This was not meant to discourage you from buying cheap HP inkjets, but to warn you so that you use the ink judiciously. All cons aside, we simply cannot deny the fact that this printer produces the best-in-class print quality, and is extremely easy to set up and operate. On top of that, it is perfect for college students who want a printer that doesn’t occupy too much space, operates silently, and is light so that you can easily move it around between rooms.

The Envy 4520 has a great automatic document loader and coupled with its duplex print function, you will be printing faster than the rest of your college buddies, and you can do it all from your smartphone by using the printer’s built-in wi-fi. For those loyal Apple customers, this printer comes equipped with AirPrint, so you never run out of options when it comes to mobile printing. It is an amazing printer and undoubtedly offers great value for money but remember to buy this only if you plan on print occasionally, like 200-300 pages a month tops.

Best Printers For College Students UNDER $300

Epson Workforce WF-3620 All-In-One

Pro: Auto 2-sided printing, high monochrome print speed.
Con: Large and heavy.

Designed to be used by small businesses and home offices, this is an extremely affordable and highly reliable printer for college students. Even if you don’t run a home business or printing service from your dorm room, the printer is available for roughly the same price as home use printers. It supports automatic two-sided printing(saves paper and time) and can handle all the important functions such as copy, scan, and fax- although we highly doubt you will use it. The 3620 packs some serious punch when it comes to printing monochrome documents as it can spit out 19 of those every minute, making it nearly as fast as a laser printer, which is a feat only a few high-quality inkjets can hope to achieve.

The connectivity options are limitless, you have wi-fi, Bluetooth, USB, as well as an Ethernet port to connect the printer to a router or central hub on your LAN, enabling multiple people to access it and print documents. You might even consider making a deal with your roommates and share the costs of purchasing the printer with them. Then you can use it together, and since it prints so damn fast you will not notice any real difference between a shared printer and a personal printer. The 250 sheet tray will ensure you only have to load it once, and it will keep on outputting professional-looking documents every time.

HP OfficeJet Pro 8620 Wireless All-In-One

Pro: Easy to use, high printing speed.
Con: Okay print quality, could use a bypass tray.

It is often said that old is gold. Whether that is true in the case of this old workhorse from HP, is up to you to decide. In terms of printing speed, workload capacity, functionality, and reliability this old HP beats a lot of modern all-in-one’s. It is very fast at printing, 16.5ppm color, and 21ppm black. The scanner and copy functions work excellently. Fortunately, duplex printing is offered to reduce paper costs and save time, along with a bunch of connectivity options such as NFC, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi. Mobile printing and saving to the cloud is really easy. If you are a person who prefers a more direct method of interaction, then you are going to love the 4.3″ color touchscreen that allows you to print, copy, scan and store with a few simple swipes of your finger.

Where this printer begins to really show its age, is the print quality. It is simply not equipped with modern ink management technologies and its print heads are not optimally built either. Despite all that the print quality is still every bit as good as most cheap printers and if your primary need is high output and reliable functioning than you probably won’t bother about the print quality too much.

Best Printers For College Students UNDER $500

Epson Workforce Pro WF-4640

Pro: Lightning fast print speeds, amazing quality printout.
Con: Bulky and heavy, noisy.

The Epson Workforce WF 4640 is not exactly a personal use printer, rather is designed to be used in places which handles large workloads and need the job done fast, like really fast. The WF 4640 prints at an insanely fast rate of 20 ppm for both color and black and white. Its print quality is really great, it can print in duplex mode, and its 2 feeder trays hold up to 580 sheets of paper. Plus, it can accept cards, envelopes, legal papers, and just about anything that you throw into it, as long as it is printable. The scanner works great and allows you to instantly upload your scanned documents to your cloud storage. Definitely something that your computer lab or classroom could use, but if you plan on getting one of these big boys for your own room, you might want to share the costs with your roommates, since it is definitely overkill for just one person unless you plan on running some sort of printing service from your college dorm room.

Brother MFCJ6920DW

Pro: Handles a wide variety of papers, super reliable.
Con: Large size, okay printing speeds.

The Brother MFC J6920DW is a rather old model, but it comes with almost every feature that you see on today’s latest all-in-one’s. Which means this printer was way ahead of its time when it was released. The printing speed is decent but is definitely a con if you consider the fact that this printer is supposed to be a professional-grade printer and cost a much as a premium inkjet. The print quality is, however, one of the best, and Brother is known to produce extremely reliable inkjets that do not jam or clog. This Brother is equipped with a 35 sheet document feeder and can handle the largest paper sizes, including legal. The maximum paper handling capacity is 500 sheets, with the two trays combined, and it can copy, scan as well as print two-sided paper in a single pass, greatly reducing the time you spend on printing. It features NFC, wi-fi, and USB for connectivity along with a scan to cloud function which can come in really handy for college students.

Final Thoughts

Epson Workforce Pro WF-4640 printers will rock for anyone who has enough space. It’s not going to fit in your average dorm room, but the printouts it makes are absolutely gorgeous. It’s definitely the best pick for those who plan on going in on the purchase with some of their roommates. Refills for the 4640 tend to cost a little more than average, but they’re pretty long-lasting so you won’t be spending your fun money on cartridges.

Those looking to save on space and need something that’s a little more suitable for a single user should love the Canon Pixma MX922. While it might not be the quietest thing around, it’s certainly more reasonable than the WF-4640 for those who are cramped up in some tight quarters. Since it’s integrated scanner makes such nice images, the MX922 might very well replace several pieces of equipment you have lying around. The ink doesn’t cost too much either, so you won’t have to worry about long-term costs either.

*Any prices mentioned in the article were at the time of publishing and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on or at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.


Sign up here to get a free, daily dose off cool stuff delivered directly to your inbox.

We will not share your information with anyone