Best Internet Plans for Students

We reviewed the discounts, plans, and perks of major internet service providers to find the best internet deals for students.

Best value
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet
4 out of 5 stars
4
Price:
Starting from $50.00/mo.
Download Speeds
245-245 Mbps
Data Cap
Unlimited
No contracts
🔥
Get $200 when you switch to T-Mobile Home Internet
Best availability
Xfinity
Xfinity Internet
4 out of 5 stars
4
Prices
$19.99-$120
Download Speeds
75-2000 Mbps
Data Cap
1200 Mbps
Contracts vary
🔥
BOGO unlimited internet data when you add a mobile line
Best speed
Frontier
Frontier Fiber Internet
4 out of 5 stars
4
Prices
$44.99-$154.99
Download Speeds
500-5000 Mbps
Data cap:
Unlimited
No contracts
🔥
Save up to $120 on YouTube TV for one year
Best free plan
ATT
AT&T Fiber
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Prices
$55-$225
Download Speeds
300-5000 Mbps
Data Cap
Unlimited
No contracts
🔥
Get up to $150 when you order online
Easton Smith
Jun 12, 2024
Icon Time To Read6 min read

College students living off campus likely need a fast and reliable home internet setup to research and write papers, stream videos, and play video games. T-Mobile 5G Home Internet is the best choice for students, offering affordable and flexible plans with no contract or extra fees for installation or equipment, plus enough speed for a couple of roommates.

If T-Mobile 5G isn’t available in your area, Xfinity, Frontier Fiber, and AT&T Fiber also offer internet plans that work well for college students. Xfinity Home Internet plans are affordable and widely available, Frontier Fiber offers powerful download and upload speeds, and AT&T Fiber provides a great student discount. There are also some government programs available to help you bring down the cost of your internet. 

Before we guide you through the best internet plans for students, enter your zip code below to see which internet plans are available in your area.

Which internet service providers can students in your zip code sign up for?

Sign up for the Lifeline program to save cash on internet

Lifeline is a federal program that exists to reduce monthly internet costs for low-income households. Eligibility is determined by either income or prior participation in other government programs.

The benefit for Lifeline recipients is about $10 per month toward your monthly internet or phone bill. The benefit for those on federally recognized tribal lands is around $35 per month and includes an additional subsidy for installation fees. Students can apply on the FCC’s website.

What makes an internet plan good for students

There’s more to consider than just download speeds and pricing.

Not all internet plans are created equal, and while some companies offer fast download speeds at low prices, they may actually come with significant drawbacks in other categories like upload speed, data caps, availability, contracts, and fees.

That’s why it’s important to know what kind of internet user you are so that you can pick a plan that will meet the specific educational needs of everyone in your household.

Internet speed and connection type

Students should consider two types of internet connections for speed, depending on the demands of their particular educational setting. For instance, a film major working with large video files may benefit from a fiber-optic plan with lightning-fast upload speeds so their homework doesn’t take all night to upload.

On the other hand, a student who is primarily using the internet to watch lectures and conduct research might be fine with a simple cable or 5G plan with 100Mbps download speed or less. 

5G home internet is a great option for students

Students are generally both heavy internet users and home renters, so it’s best to avoid plans that require equipment installation and contracts. That's why a 5G internet connection is an easy, affordable option for students. 

Like 4G before it, 5G uses radio frequencies to transmit data from cell phone towers. What's the difference? 5G uses higher radio frequencies, allowing it to deliver information at a faster rate. With 5G technology, students can get a super-fast connection without worrying about installing cables or relying on existing grid systems.

5G home internet plans also offer a speedy internet connection to those whose only options are DSL or satellite connections, which tend to come with pricey equipment or lengthy contracts.

T-Mobile 5G Home Internet: Best value

Students can breathe easy with a simple setup, straightforward pricing, and no extra fees for installation or equipment.
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet
4 out of 5 stars
4
pro Download speeds: 72–245Mbps
pro No contracts
pro Impressive availability
Starting at
$50.00
/mo
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

T-Mobile 5G Home Internet is an easy, low-commitment option for students. After you sign up, T-Mobile sends you a wireless gateway (a modem/router combo) that picks up the 5G cellular signal from a nearby tower and converts it into Wi-Fi for your home. That means you don't have to worry about buying extra equipment or waiting around for a professional technician to set up complicated wiring. 

T-Mobile's home internet plans don't get the fastest speeds, but they're perfect for sharing with two or three roommates. You pay a fixed rate every month, with no extra fees for installation or equipment. You get unlimited data as part of the deal, and new customers get a bunch of other perks, too, including a monthly discount if you also have a T-Mobile wireless plan. 

Wondering the difference between Internet Unlimited and Internet Plus? Both packages offer the same speeds and data caps, but Unlimited Plus offers you additional Wi-Fi equipment and 24/7 technical support for connected devices.

T-Mobile 5G Home Internet
Plan
Price
Download speeds
Upload speeds
Details
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet Unlimited$50/mo.*72-245 Mbps15-31 Mbps
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet Plus$70/mo.72-245 Mbps15-31 Mbps
* w/ Auto Pay. Regulatory fees included in monthly price for qualified accounts. See full terms.

Xfinity Home Internet: Best availability

This is the most accessible way to get decent speeds for a low price.
Xfinity
4 out of 5 stars
4
pro Download speeds: 150–1,200Mbps
pro Widely available
pro Affordable pricing
Starting at
$20.00
/mo
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

As the largest cable company in the United States, Xfinity is the best bet if you're looking for fast Wi-Fi on the cheap.

Xfinity is available in 41 states, and the cable provider has some of the lowest starting prices for high-speed internet. You can pay as low as $20 per month for a plan that comes with enough bandwidth to support you and several housemates. 

There are some drawbacks: Expect price hikes after a year, and also keep in mind that you need to pay a monthly fee to rent an Xfinity modem/router. But you can dodge that fee by getting your own wireless router.

Xfinity’s contract policy varies by region and plan, so you might not need to sign a contract, or you might be required to commit to a 1- or 2-year contract. 

Xfinity Internet plans and prices
Plan
Price
Download speeds
Upload speeds
Details
Connect$20/mo for 12 mo.150 Mbps10 Mbps
Connect More$35/mo.200 Mbps10 Mbps
Fast$55/mo.^400 Mbps10 Mbps
Superfast$70/mo.^800 Mbps20 Mbps
Gigabit$70/mo.°Up to 1000 Mbps20 Mbps
Gigabit Extra$85/mo.**1200 Mbps35 Mbps
For 12 months. No term contract. Taxes and equipment not included. Includes $10/mo automatic payments and paperless billing discount. Prices may vary by location.
No term contract. Taxes not included. Includes $10/mo automatic payments and paperless billing discount. Prices may vary by location.
^ For 24 months. No term contract. Taxes and equipment not included. Includes $10/mo automatic payments and paperless billing discount. Prices may vary by location.
° For 36 months. No term contract. Includes $10/mo automatic payments and paperless billing discount. Taxes and equipment not included. Prices may vary by location.
** For 24 months. No term contract. Taxes not included. Includes $10/mo automatic payments and paperless billing discount. Prices may vary by location.

If you’d rather not buy a router or need more than 75Mbps speeds, you might be better off with our runner up for best value, Optimum Internet. Optimum’s plans start at 300Mbps, include free equipment rental, and are priced competitively with Xfinity.

Unfortunately Optimum is available in fewer markets than Xfinity, which is available near college campuses in over 40 states across the country.

Frontier Fiber Internet: Best Speed

Students will come for fast download speeds and stay for the symmetrical upload speeds.
Frontier
4 out of 5 stars
4
pro Download speeds: 500–5,000Mbps
pro Equipment included
pro Superfast upload speeds
Starting at
$44.99
/mo
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

If you or your household want serious speed at an affordable price, look no further than Frontier Fiber Internet. Frontier currently has one of the the best prices on 1Gbps internet at $70 per month, including a wireless router.

Best of all, its fiber-optic technology provides symmetrical speeds, meaning both the download and upload speed will clock in at 1,000Mbps. Students who do a lot of uploading, video conferencing, or online gaming will appreciate this feature most, but any household with multiple internet users would likely benefit.

Frontier Fiber Internet plans and prices
Plan
Price
Download speeds
Upload speeds
Details
Fiber 500$44.99/mo. w/ Auto Pay and Paperless Bill††500 Mbps500 Mbps
Fiber 1 Gig$69.99/mo. w/ Auto Pay and Paperless Bill‡‡1000 Mbps1000 Mbps
Fiber 2 Gig$99.99/mo. w/ Auto Pay and Paperless Bill^^2000 Mbps2000 Mbps
Fiber 5 Gig$129.99/mo. w/ Auto Pay and Paperless Bill°°5000 Mbps5000 Mbps
†† w/ Auto Pay & Paperless Bill. Max wired speed 500/500 Mbps. Wi-Fi, actual & average speeds vary. One-time charges apply.
‡‡ w/ Auto Pay & Paperless Bill. Max wired speed 1000/1000 Mbps. Location dependent. Wi-Fi, actual & average speeds vary. One-time charges apply.
^^ w/ Auto Pay & Paperless Bill. Max wired speed 2000/2000 Mbps. Wi-Fi, actual & average speeds vary. One-time charges apply.
°° w/ Auto Pay & Paperless Bill. Max wired speed 5000/5000. Wi-Fi, actual & average speeds vary. One-time charges apply.

Just keep in mind that the prices for Frontier Fiber Internet are promotional, so they will increase after a year unless you cancel your service. Luckily there aren’t any data caps or hidden fees beyond a one-time activation fee.

Our runner up for best speed is Google Fiber Internet, which offers a symmetrical 1 Gig plan for just $70 per month without any price hikes down the line. If you are lucky enough to live in one of the 30 cities where Google Fiber is available, it might just be the best option to get you all the way from freshman orientation to senior graduation.

AT&T Fiber Internet: Best free plan

Qualifying students can enjoy 100Mbps for an unbeatable price: free.
ATT
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
pro No Contracts or fees
pro Fiber internet speeds
pro Equipment Included
Starting at
$55
/mo
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Various internet companies have partnered with the FCC to offer high-speed internet for free to qualifying low-income Americans. What sets AT&T Fiber Internet apart from the crowd is that it is one of the only participating ISPs with a fiber-optic network.

Other participating ISPs include: Allo, altaFiber, Altice (Optimum), Astound, Breezeline, Comcast, Comporium, Cox, Frontier, IdeaTek, Jackson Energy, MediacomCable, MLGC, Spectrum, Starry, Verizon (Fios only), Vermont Telephone Company, Vexus Fiber, and Wow! Internet.

At the end of the day, any company in your area offering one of these plans is worth considering, although most of them only offer up to 100Mbps download speed for free. These plans are required to come with no out-of-pocket cost, meaning no fees, contracts, or equipment charges either.

We are glad that the FCC provides programs like Lifeline so that struggling students don’t have to choose between having an internet connection or another week’s supply of ramen noodles.

Methodology

We spend a lot of time collecting, comparing, and synthesizing information so that you don’t have to. Information regarding plans, pricing, performance, and availability are taken directly from the companies themselves whenever possible. Next, we reference third-party sources and individuals. Ultimately, we hope to make our research accessible to you in a clear, concise, accurate, and (occasionally) fun manner.

For this article, we compared student internet plans on several main criteria, including price, speed, discounts, availability, fees, and terms. We collected information about federal programs from their respective government websites.

Our hope is that you will use this article to better understand all of the options available to students and which ones might best meet your particular academic needs. If you have any questions or feedback about this article, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know!

Easton Smith
Written by
Easton has worked as a freelance writer and researcher for several years, reviewing health, lifestyle, and technology products. He has probably read more Terms of Use contracts than any human alive. When he’s not sitting in front of a computer, Easton spends his time camping, climbing, and volunteering with humanitarian aid organizations.

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