College of IST First-Year Student Laptop Requirement

The information below is intended for first-year students enrolling in the College of IST at University Park in summer 2022 or after. If you enrolled in the college before this date and have questions about the laptop requirement, please email laptop@ist.psu.edu.

The College of IST requires that all new first-year students enrolled in the college at University Park have their own laptop that meets or exceeds minimum technical specifications. Minimum requirements and recommended specifications are listed below under the "Technical Specifications" heading.

This requirement is intended to ensure students have a device that should last for four years, ensures students have access to a level of technology needed to complete coursework, and allows instructors to effectively incorporate a standard of technology into their courses. Students may be required to bring their laptops to class.

Over time, having a personal laptop that meets certain standards better positions students to complete assignments, collaborate effectively with classmates, receive hands-on instruction, and make use of flexible educational environments. Ultimately, it supports an equitable Penn State experience and prepares students with the digital fluency needed to create new knowledge and thrive in emerging careers.

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  • Fall 2021–Spring 2022
    • Penn State admissions notifications are shared with students.
  • Spring-Summer 2022
    • Students are notified of their eligibility for the one-time technology scholarship. Timing of notifications is on a per-student basis and is based on the timing of the student's admissions decision and whether a FAFSA has been processed by the University. Scholarship funds will be available to eligible students after they attend a New Student Orientation session.
  • February 1, 2022
    • Deadline for students to have a FAFSA on file with Penn State to ensure consideration for the College of IST one-time technology scholarship. Students who have a FAFSA on file by April 15 may be considered.
  • May 1, 2022
    • Deadline for admitted students to notify Penn State of their enrollment.
  • May 2022
    • Technical specifications for recommended laptops are made available.
    • Laptops are made available for all students to purchase through the Penn State Bookstore.
  • Summer 2022
    • New Student Orientations held at University Park.
    • Upon completing New Student Orientation and registering for first-semester courses, eligible students can apply their one-time technology scholarship directly to the purchase of their laptop at the Penn State Bookstore.
  • October 2022
    • Any remaining funds from the one-time technology scholarship are deposited to eligible students’ Bursar accounts.

Incoming first-year IST students enrolling in the College of IST at University Park in summer 2022 or later must have a laptop that meets or exceeds the following specifications:

Windows Laptop

  • Minimum Specifications: Windows 10, i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 256GB hard drive, WiFi, Bluetooth, Hardware service warranty
  • Recommended Specifications: Windows 11, Intel i7 or equivalent AMD Ryzen processor, 16GB RAM, 256GB hard drive, WiFi, Bluetooth, Hardware service warranty

Mac Laptop

  • Minimum Specifications: Mac OS Big Sur, M1 processor, 16GB RAM, 256GB Hard drive, WiFi, Bluetooth, AppleCare
  • Recommended Specifications: Mac OS Monterey, M1 or M1 Pro processor, 16GB RAM, 256GB Hard drive, WiFi, Bluetooth, AppleCare

When to Purchase

Students can purchase a laptop that meets the college’s requirement at any time before arriving on campus. However, we recommend students wait until close to their enrollment date to purchase a laptop to maximize the machine’s warranty for their time on campus.

Students who are purchasing a new laptop are encouraged to secure one that meets the recommended specifications.

Students who already have a laptop that meets the minimum specifications will not need to purchase a new one.

Where to Purchase

The Penn State Bookstore has several laptops available for purchase at a discounted rate, which can be shipped to the student or picked up on campus. While students can purchase any laptop that meets these requirements from any vendor, we strongly encourage that they are purchased through the Bookstore as some of these solutions come with multiyear support plans or promotional rebates.

Students who are eligible for the College of IST’s one-time technology scholarship can also apply these funds to the purchase of a laptop directly at checkout from the Bookstore. More information on the one-time technology scholarship, which will be available to eligible students after they attend a New Student Orientation session, can be found below.

You can view the Bookstore’s full selection of laptops at psu.bncollege.com.

College of IST students who have a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file with the University that shows demonstrated need will be considered for a one-time technology scholarship to help offset some or all of the cost of this requirement.

To ensure consideration for the one-time technology scholarship, students must meet all of the following criteria:

  • be enrolled as a College of IST student for summer or fall 2022.
  • have a FASFA on file with Penn State by February 1, 2022. Students for whom a FASFA is received by Penn State between February 1 and April 15, 2022, may be considered.
  • attend a New Student Orientation session.

Students who are eligible for the one-time technology scholarship will be notified by email and mail by summer 2022. Timing of notifications is on a per-student basis and is based on the timing of the student's admissions decision and whether a FAFSA has been processed by the University.

Scholarship funds will be available to eligible students after they attend a New Student Orientation session. After the College of IST confirms the student's New Student Orientation attendance and first semester’s course registration, they will receive a follow-up message to their Penn State email that outlines the process for applying scholarship funds toward the laptop at the time of purchase from the Bookstore, which is also outlined below.

Students who are eligible for the scholarship but who do not purchase a laptop through the Bookstore will have the scholarship funds deposited to their Bursar account in October 2022.

Students who are not eligible for the scholarship can still purchase a laptop through the Penn State Bookstore at a discounted rate.

Applying Your Technology Scholarship through the Penn State Bookstore

Students who are eligible for the one-time technology scholarship and who are securing their laptop through the Penn State Bookstore should follow the steps below to have the funds applied at the time of purchase.

  1. Visit psu.bncollege.com
  2. From the Supplies & Electronics tab, select Desktops, Laptops & Tablets
  3. Review available options on the website and make your selection
  4. Once the selection is made, click Add to Cart
  5. Select View Cart, and then Checkout
  6. Log in to your existing account or create an account
  7. Complete the registration and click Create Account
    1. It is best to use your Penn State email that ends in @psu.edu
  8. Choose whether you want to Pickup at Store or Ship to My Address and complete the necessary information
  9. For the payment option, select the Internal SFA tab
  10. Enter your First and Last Name in the Name on Account box
  11. Enter your PSU ID number that begins with the number 9 in the Student ID box
    1. When you enter your PSU ID number, please enter “2 + your PSU ID number” (Do not include the + sign)
    2. For example, if your 9-digit PSU ID student number is “912345678, then enter “2912345678” in the Student ID box and click continue
  12. Review your order and when ready click Place Order
  13. Upon placing your order, you will receive a confirmation on-screen and via email
  14. You will also receive an email when your order has shipped or is ready for in-store pickup

One-Time Cost of Attendance Increase

Students who are eligible for the one-time technology scholarship who are also receiving financial aid that is already covering their total cost of attendance should contact the Penn State Office of Student Aid to submit a one-time cost of attendance increase for a computer purchase to ensure that any existing financial aid award is not impacted.

Most students will not need to take this step and should review their current financial aid award before determining if a cost of attendance increase is necessary. This increase will be covered by the one-time technology scholarship.

If a student determines that a cost of attendance increase is necessary, there are two ways to request a "Cost of Attendance Increase for a Computer Purchase.” Students must initiate this process, and it can be done before or after the laptop is purchased:

  1. Email the Office of Student Aid.
    1. In the Inquiry box, select "Other."
    2. In the Question or Comment box, enter "I request a Cost of Attendance increase for a computer purchase" and ask to have the paperwork sent to you.
  2. Call the Office of Student Aid at (814) 865-6301 to request a Cost of Attendance increase for a computer purchase. The Office of Student Aid will provide the paperwork.

What if my laptop does not meet the minimum requirements?

Faculty have built courses based on each student having a minimum level of technology to participate in class assignments, complete coursework, and progress through the degree program. Not meeting the requirement may result in a suboptimal experience and negatively impact your academic performance.

Who will be considered for the one-time technology scholarship?

To ensure consideration for the one-time technology scholarship, students must meet all of the following criteria:

  • be enrolled as a College of IST student for summer or fall 2022.
  • have a FASFA on file with Penn State by February 1, 2022. Students for whom a FASFA is received by Penn State between February 1 and April 15, 2022, may be considered.
  • attend a New Student Orientation session.

Students who are eligible for the one-time technology scholarship will be notified by email and mail by summer 2022. Scholarship funds will be available to eligible students after they attend a New Student Orientation session.

What is the amount of the one-time technology scholarship?

Award amounts vary and will be determined by the student’s level of need.

I’m eligible for the one-time technology scholarship. When will I receive the funds?

Scholarship funds will be available to eligible students after they attend a New Student Orientation session.

The College of IST will provide the names and award amounts of scholarship-eligible students to the Penn State Bookstore. If you obtain a laptop directly through the Penn State Bookstore, the amount of your award will be directly credited toward your purchase at checkout. Any surplus between the amount of your award and the cost of your laptop will be distributed to your Bursar account in October 2022. If you don’t purchase a laptop from the Bookstore, or if you already have a laptop that meets the requirements, your award will be distributed to your Bursar account in October 2022.

More information on this process will be available in spring 2022.

I’m eligible for the one-time technology scholarship. Do I need to do anything else to get it?

If you are eligible for the one-time technology scholarship, you must attend New Student Orientation for the College of IST and register for your first semester’s courses to maintain eligibility.

Will receiving the one-time technology scholarship impact my financial aid?

If you are receiving financial aid that is already covering your total cost of attendance, you will need to contact the Office of Student Aid to submit a one-time cost of attendance increase for a computer purchase to ensure that any existing financial aid award is not impacted.

I’m eligible for the scholarship, but I already bought a laptop that meets these requirements. Will I still receive the scholarship?

Yes, awarding decisions will not be influenced by whether a student already owns a laptop that meets the college’s requirement. Scholarship-eligible students will be notified via email and mail by summer 2022.

Please note that while funds are intended to be used toward the purchase of the required laptop, they can be used by the University to cover any charges applied to your Bursar account.

What if the laptop I purchase through the Bookstore costs more or less than the scholarship?

If the laptop costs less than your scholarship amount, the difference will be deposited into your Bursar account in October 2022. If the laptop costs more than the scholarship amount, you are responsible for the remaining balance upon checkout.

What if I never completed the FAFSA?

If you have not completed the FAFSA, we encourage you to submit it as soon as possible so you can be considered for the one-time technology scholarship. To ensure consideration for the one-time technology scholarship, students must have a FASFA on file with Penn State by February 1, 2022. Students for whom a FASFA is received by Penn State between February 1 and April 15, 2022, may be considered.

Visit the Office of Student Aid website for more information.

Do the different majors in the college have different technical requirements?

No, the minimum and recommended technical specifications are the same for each of the College of IST’s undergraduate programs.

If I have a laptop that meets the required specifications but isn’t on the college’s recommended list, can I still use it?

Yes, you can use any laptop that meets or exceeds the technical specifications.

Will my tablet or mobile device meet this requirement?

No, there are currently no tablets or mobile devices that meet the minimum required specifications.

Does the technology requirement apply to first-year students taking Learning Edge Academic Program (LEAP) courses during the summer 2022 semester?

While the laptop requirement does not apply to students taking LEAP courses during summer 2022, all first-year students must have a laptop that meets the college’s requirement by the beginning of the fall 2022 semester.

If you have questions about purchasing a laptop or the one-time technology scholarship, email laptop@ist.psu.edu.

I’m a student-athlete or on another full scholarship and am eligible for the one-time technology scholarship. What should I do?

Email laptop@ist.psu.edu.

What happens if my machine has technical problems or suffers a security breach?

The IST Helpdesk will be available to consult on software problems related to coursework and can loan you a laptop if you have a temporary problem. Visit the IST Helpdesk website for more information.

Are there any additional hardware, software, or accessories I need?

No, though some courses may require the installation of various software to complete assignments. Your instructor will guide you in any course-specific software needs.