This post was most recently updated on November 29th, 2019
Finding the best printer for college students can be harder than it sounds. Everyone has different needs. Then, you need to take those needs and shove and cram them into a tiny little Kleenex box sized space that fits on the window-sill sized desk in your dorm room.
Now, my first piece of advice for college students is a bit counter-intuitive, but print at the library. Usually, your university will have some sort of “technology fee” built into your tuition. What I’ve found is that colleges typically allocate as much as twenty-five dollars towards printing. That’s over a hundred pages of printing you’ve already paid for that just disappears at the end of each semester.
However, you can’t always make it to the library or technology center when you finish your midterm paper five minutes before class. Or maybe there’s something you want to be printed, like photos or artwork, that you can’t print off the old Xerox. So, having a reliable backup plan in your dorm room is still a good idea.
So, what should you be looking for? What is the best printer for a college student? That all depends on what you want to print. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll break it into three categories.
- Lots of photos
- Lots of documents
- A bit of everything
I’m labeling these categories as the Socialite (photos), the Bookworm (documents), and the Average Joe (equal mix). Hopefully, this will help you decide which of the printers I’ve listed as the best printer for college students is right for you.
If you are printing a lot of photos or images, then you have two primary needs in a printer: quality and cost. The HP ENVY Photo 7855 has both.
This printer has a 1200 dpi print resolution, and an extra paper tray for photo paper. It utilizes a two-cartridge system, which allows you to print with black only, or leave the printer over break without worrying about destroying a print head. The HP ENVY Photo 7855 also has a great scanner with auto-document feeder and a whole host of connectivity and printing options. You can print over WIFI, or from a flash drive, SD memory card, or with a USB cable. This means you aren’t out of luck when the dorm WIFI goes out for the sixth time this week! Seriously, does this WIFI run on a hamster wheel?
The best part of the HP Envy 7855 is that it’s Instant Ink compatible! Everyone knows by now how much I love Instant Ink, but I think it’s especially great for college students. This is due to how consistent their printing tends to be. Especially if you are printing a lot of photos, Instant Ink is a great option. You may even be able to get your parents to pay for the subscription for you. Hey, it’s worth a shot.
The HP ENVY Photo 7855 is a great photo printer for anyone, but especially for a university student. You’ll be able to print off photos from the quad to send home, party photos for the walls of your dorm, and the occasional homework assignment. This is why the HP ENVY Photo 7855 with Instant Ink is the best printer for college students who print a lot of photos.
For this spot, I struggled. Cost-wise, a monochrome laser printer is a better option. And, if you are only going to be printing color occasionally, the library may have some sort of option for you. If you know this is the case, I’d then recommend the Brother HL-L2350DW.
However, at least in my region, none of the school library printers have a color printing ability. And, when you need to print in color, you may not have a lot of time to find other options. My recommendation would be to shell out the extra cash and get the color laser printer. Because it is a laserjet, your color cartridges won’t dry out or expire if you don’t print much color.
The best printer for college students who print a lot of documents, in my opinion, is the HP Laserjet Pro M254dw. This printer is a freaking workhorse. It prints twenty-two pages per minute and has the fastest in-class first page out. The HP Laserjet Pro M254dw also has a 250-sheet paper tray, while still being compact enough to fit under your desk or in your closet.
That’s about all you need to know. It’s simple, fast, and efficient. The HP Laserjet Pro M254dw is a great printer and my choice for the best printer for college students who print a lot of documents.
Brother is a great manufacturer known for making awesome laserjet printers. However, in recent years they’ve really stepped up their inkjet game. The Brother MFC-J985DW is a great inkjet printer, with cartridge costs on par with HP’s OfficeJet Pro series.
What sets this printer apart from other comparable models is the size. At just under seven inches tall, this printer could easily fit under most dorm room beds. Because you’ll most likely print homework a couple days per week, this printer is perfect to slide out when you need it and stow away when you don’t.
The Brother MFC-J985dw is efficient, versatile, and takes up a small footprint. This is why I’ve chosen it as the best printer for college students who have average printing needs.
Those are my choices for the top 3 best printers for college students. If you found this list helpful, be sure to join my email list in the sidebar. It’s free and awesome!