Best Internet Plans 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:
72–245Mbps
Data cap:
Unlimited
No contracts
Best availability
Xfinity
Xfinity Internet
4 out of 5 stars
4
Price:
Starting from $20.00/mo.
Download speeds:
75–1,200Mbps
Data cap:
Unlimited
Contracts vary
Best speed
Frontier
Frontier Fiber Internet
4 out of 5 stars
4
Price:
Starting from $45.00/mo.
Download speeds:
500–5,000Mbps
Data cap:
Unlimited
No contracts
Best free plan
ATT
AT&T Fiber
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Price:
Starting from $55.00/mo.
Download speeds:
Up to 100Mbps
Data cap:
Unlimited
No contracts

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

Easton Smith
Feb 09, 2024
Icon Time To Read6 min read

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When you're in college, you're usually strapped for cash. But if you're living off campus, you likely still need to pay for your own fast and reliable home internet setup to let you write papers, handle other class requirements, and blow off steam after hours with streaming and gaming. 

Fortunately, you can find home Wi-Fi that meets serious speed needs while going easy on your wallet. There are also some government programs available to help you bring down the cost of your internet.

From T-Mobile 5G Home Internet to Xfinity and AT&T, read on for our recommendations of the best internet options for college students.

Before we get into the nitty gritty, though, type in your zip below to find out which internet providers are available at your college pad. 

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

Modern college students spend up to 10 hours per day doing various activities online, including homework, research, streaming video, and using social media. That’s why it’s so important for students to find reliable, affordable internet to keep up with the highly-connected demands of modern academia. We’re here to help.

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.

Download vs. upload speeds

There are two types of internet speed for students to consider 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 it doesn’t take all night to upload their homework.

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. We’ll provide recommendations for both types in this article.

Also consider who will be using your connection. If you live with roommates, you’ll want to make sure there is adequate bandwidth for everyone to be online at the same time. Not to mention, a great way to save on your monthly bill is to split it with friends!

Factors beyond internet speed

In general, we’ve compared plans that we think will meet the minimum needs of the average student, meaning ones that offer reliable high-speed connections to handle the basic functions of academic life like video conferencing, streaming video, uploading homework, studying, and even some gaming or social media when the work's all done.

We also like to promote plans that avoid expensive surprises like data caps, hidden fees, and annual contracts. Students are generally both heavy internet users and home renters, so it’s best to avoid plans that charge extra for high data usage or include fees to activate or cancel your service.

When fees, caps, and contracts do come up, we are sure to mention them so that you can make an informed decision.

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. 

The plan doesn't get the fastest speeds, but it's 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. 

T-Mobile 5G Home Internet
Plan
Price
Download speeds
Upload speeds
Details
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet$60/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: 75–1,200Mbps
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.75 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$154.99/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 Smith
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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