If you're a college student looking for a printer, the good news is that there are many choices out there. 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 end up spending 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 120 printers, and below are the best printers for 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 7740, an inkjet all-in-one. It produces high-quality black and color documents, prints at a decent speed, and doesn't cost much to maintain due to its high page yield. Plus, it supports wide format paper size (tabloid), which is great for making posters to hang in your room. You can easily connect to the printer via USB, Wi-Fi, or Ethernet, and you can print files directly from a USB flash drive.
As for the scanner, you get an 11" x 17" flatbed to scan large and fragile items, as well as an automatic feeder with single-pass duplex to quickly process multi-page and double-sided documents. The only downside is its lack of extendable lid hinges, making it harder to close the lid over thicker items like textbooks and manuals. The scan quality is okay; it's fine for documents but not the best for digitizing photos, as it has trouble capturing very fine details. Lastly, this printer is a beast of a machine and takes up lots of space, so you need to make sure you have enough room.
If you have simpler needs and want a more modest mid-range model, get the Brother MFC-J4335DW, an inkjet all-in-one. It connects via Wi-Fi or USB and supports Apple AirPrint and Mopria Print Service. You can also use the companion app to print, scan, and copy from your smartphone. It doesn't take long to wake from sleep and prints quickly at 17 black or 15 color pages per minute. Its ink cartridges yield a large number of prints, which means it'll require less maintenance, making it cheaper to maintain. The scanner processes up to 20 pages per minute through the feeder, but unlike our top pick, the HP OfficeJet Pro 7740, it doesn't support double-sided scanning, and the scanner's flatbed is only big enough for regular 8.5" x 11" sheets.
For those on a limited budget, a good option would be the Brother MFC-J1205W. Its compact size is perfect for tight spaces, and it 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 right 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 on the slow side, 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 super 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 it even if just one color runs out.
The cartridges aren't expensive, but your maintenance cost will still add up quickly if you print a lot. All this to say that 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, a feature-rich all-in-one monochrome laser printer. It has Wi-Fi, USB, and Ethernet connectivity and supports Apple AirPrint and Mopria Print Service, so you can easily print from your smartphone without installing any drivers or third-party apps. The scanner has an automatic feeder that can process double-sided sheets in a single pass, meaning you don't need to reinsert the pages manually. Print-wise, it produces outstanding quality documents, prints quickly at up to 36 pages per minute, and supports automatic double-sided printing. The regular toner cartridge yields around 2000 prints, so you won't need to replace it often unless you print a lot, and you can get an XL cartridge that'll last even longer, further reducing maintenance. 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.
A cheaper option would be the Brother MFC-L2710DW, a variant of the MFC-L2750DW. It performs almost identically in print quality and page yield; however, it lacks duplex scanning and prints a little slower at 32 pages per minute. It doesn't have a touch-sensitive display, but there are plenty of physical buttons that make it easier to navigate the settings menu.
As a college student, maybe you want something a little cheaper. If that's the case, check out the Brother HL-L2325DW. It's also a monochrome laser printer that quickly produces high-quality documents, but it's a print-only unit, so it doesn't have a 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. It 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 right 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.
Jan 25, 2023: Minor text changes to improve clarity. Added the Epson EcoTank ET-3850 as a Notable Mention. No change in recommendations.
Oct 27, 2022: Replaced the Canon PIXMA G6020 with the HP OfficeJet Pro 7740 because the HP has better print quality, faster printing speed, and more scanner features. Replaced the Brother MFC-L2710DW with the Brother MFC-L2750DW because it prints faster and supports duplex scanning. Replaced the HP LaserJet Pro M15w with the Brother HL-L2325DW because the HP is discontinued and hard to find.
Aug 29, 2022: Restructured article to better match user expectations. Added the Canon PIXMA G6020 as the 'Best Printer For College Students'. Added the Canon PIXMA MG3620 as the 'Best Cheap Printer For College Students'. Removed the Canon PIXMA TS6420a and the Epson EcoTank ET-2850. Replaced the Brother HL-L2390DW with the Brother MFC-L2710DW because the MFC-L2710DW has better page yields and an ADF.
Jun 03, 2022: Minor structure change. Replaced Brother HL-L2390DW with HP LaserJet Pro M15W as 'Best Black and White Printer' because it's cheaper and has better page yield. Replaced Canon PIXMA TR4720 with Canon PIXMA TS6420a as 'Best Photo Printer' because it has a better cost-per-print and prints faster.
Apr 06, 2022: Made the Epson EcoTank ET-2850 'Best High-Volume', and the Canon PIXMA TR4720 'Best Photo'. Moved the Epson EcoTank ET-2760 and the Canon PIXMA TR4520 to Notable Mentions. Refreshed picks for Notable Mentions to line up better with newer models and availability. Verified availability and accuracy of picks.
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.