If you're a college student looking for a printer, the good news is that many choices exist. There are a variety of models that are well suited for producing detailed photos, quickly printing out many black-and-white sheets, or giving you the lowest cost-per-print possible. It's important to choose the printer that's best suited for your needs so that you don't spend more on replacement cartridges than the printer itself or too much for an expensive printer you only plan to use a few times a year. It's good to consider the printer's printing speed, connectivity options, and mobile app support. We've included both inkjet and laser options while keeping your budget in mind.
We've tested over 135 printers, and below are the best printers for college students you can buy. You can also check out our recommendations for the best all-in-one printers, the best home printers, and the best printers under $100.
The best printer for college students we've tested is the HP OfficeJet Pro 9025e, an all-in-one inkjet model. It produces incredibly sharp documents, prints quickly at up to 16 black or 14 color pages per minute, which is great if you need to print something in a hurry, and supports automatic duplex printing. You can connect to the printer via Wi-Fi, USB, Ethernet, and even USB flash drives, so you can easily print documents from a variety of devices. The scanner has an automatic feeder with single-pass duplex scanning; however, its lid hinges can't extend to accommodate thicker items like textbooks.
The ink cartridges have a high page yield and are relatively cheap, so the printer won't cost much to maintain in the long run. It comes with six months of ink via HP+, HP's ink replenishment service, but know that if you accept the offer, you can't use cheaper third-party ink in the future, even if you cancel the subscription. If you don't care about the subscription service, you can get the HP OfficeJet Pro 9025, which is the same printer but without the HP+ service added as a bonus feature.
If you're a teacher and need to print in bulk for your students, get the Epson EcoTank ET-3850 instead, the best printer for teachers we've tested. Its ink tank yields significantly more prints, making it easier and cheaper to maintain. However, there are a couple of tradeoffs, like its slower printing speeds and the lack of duplex scanning and external storage support. Its print quality is slightly worse than the HP's but still great overall.
If you have simpler needs and want a more modest mid-range model, the Brother MFC-J4335DW is one of the best printers for students we've tested. It produces nice documents and photos, doesn't take long to wake from sleep, and prints quickly at 17 black or 15 color pages per minute. Its cost of ownership is very low, as it yields a large number of prints, and replacement cartridges aren't expensive. The scanner has extendable lid hinges and processes up to 20 pages per minute through the feeder; however, it doesn't support double-sided scanning.
Connectivity options include Wi-Fi and USB, and support for Apple AirPrint and Mopria Print Service is present. It works with Brother's Mobile Connect app, which you can use to print, scan, copy, and perform maintenance tasks from your smartphone. You can get the slightly more expensive Brother MFC-J4535DW variant if you need Ethernet. It also has NFC support, a larger touch-sensitive display, and an additional 250-sheet input tray.
For those on a limited budget, go with the Brother MFC-J1205W, also sold as the Brother MFC-J1215W at Walmart. Its compact size is perfect for tight spaces, and the printer feels impressively well-built. It has a high-resolution flatbed scanner to digitize notes and course packs, USB and Wi-Fi connectivity, and it's compatible with the Brother Mobile Connect app, which you can use to perform maintenance tasks and order supplies from your mobile device.
You can print over 1000 black or 750 color pages before the ink cartridges run low, and the cartridges are cheap, so the maintenance costs remain low even if you print a lot. It prints up to nine black or six color pages per minute, which is a little slow, so you may be waiting around a while if you print long research articles or papers. That said, it's still a fantastic choice if you're looking for a budget-friendly printer.
If you need something cheap that can get the job done for those occasional projects, get the Canon PIXMA MG3620. It isn't sturdy and lacks an automatic feeder, but it prints good-quality documents and photos. The main drawback of a cheap model like this is its low page yield. It only yields about 200 black or color prints, meaning you'll have to replace them often, and since it uses a tri-color cartridge, you'll have to replace the entire cartridge even if just a single color runs out.
The cartridges aren't expensive, but your maintenance cost will still add up quickly if you print a lot. This printer is only a good option if you print occasionally. Otherwise, you're better off with the slightly more expensive Brother MFC-J1205W because you'll likely save money in the long run.
If you only need to print black and white documents, get the Brother MFC-L2750DW, one of the best printers for teachers and college students we've tested. It has Wi-Fi, USB, and Ethernet connectivity and supports Apple AirPrint and Mopria Print Service. The scanner produces amazingly detailed scans and can process multi-page and double-sided documents quickly through its feeder. Print quality is outstanding, and the prints come out at an amazing pace, up to 36 pages per minute.
The standard-format toner cartridge yields around 2000 prints, and XL-format cartridges are available to further increase the yield. You need to replace the drum separately, but you likely won't need to do it often, as it's usually good for about 12,000 prints. Cheaper variants exist, like the Brother MFC-L2710DW, which lacks duplex scanning and prints a little slower at 32 pages per minute. See our full review for more details.
Our budget monochrome pick is the Brother HL-L2350DW, a variant of the Brother HL-L2325DW we tested. The HL-L2325DW variant is also a good option; it's just hard to find at most retailers. Like the pricier Brother MFC-L2750DW, this monochrome laser model produces sharp documents, but it's a print-only unit with no scanner. It still feels very well-built despite its low price, and thanks to its high page yield, you won't need to spend too much to maintain it.
The HL-L2325DW has the usual Wi-Fi and USB connectivity and is compatible with Brother's mobile companion app, which you can use to print or perform maintenance tasks from your smartphone. Overall, it's a good printer that you can get for cheap; you just need to make sure you won't need to scan anything in the future.
Apr 06, 2023: Minor text changes. Replaced the HP OfficeJet Pro 7740 with the HP OfficeJet Pro 9025e because the 9025e produces higher-quality documents, prints faster, and is slightly cheaper to maintain.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best printers for students. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here's the list of all our printer reviews. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no printer is perfect for every use, most are good enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.