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 printers which are well suited for producing detailed photos, quickly printing out many black-and-white sheets, or giving you the lowest cost-per-print as 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. You'll also want to consider the printer's printing speed, connectivity options, and mobile app support. In our list of recommendations, we've included both inkjet and laser options while keeping your budget in mind.
We've tested over 95 printers, and below are the best printers for college students that we recommend. 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 Brother MFC-J805DW INKvestment Tank. This all-in-one inkjet model uses Brother's proprietary hybrid supertank and cartridge system for fantastic black and color page yields and a superb cost-per-print. The display isn't a touch screen, but you can still easily navigate through the menu.
It feels impressively well built and sturdy, with easy access to the ink cartridges. The scanning features are great, including a flatbed with hinges that can raise to accommodate bulkier items like textbooks and an automatic document feeder to process multi-page documents. It has decent connectivity options including Wi-Fi Direct, Apple AirPrint, and Mopria Print Service, and the outstanding Brother iPrint&Scan app allows you to print, scan, and copy directly from the app.
Unfortunately, you can't print via Bluetooth or directly from external storage like SD cards and USB flash drives, and it's quite slow to print documents and photos. Although the color accuracy is sub-par, the quality of produced photos is satisfactory, so printed photos should be okay for casual use. All in all, this is an excellent all-in-one printer for college students and is one of the best inkjet printers we've tested.
If you need to print very frequently, consider a printer with a supertank ink system like the Epson EcoTank ET-2760. While it doesn't have a sheetfed scanner and doesn't feel as well built as the Brother MFC-J805DW INKvestment Tank, its refillable ink system gives superior page yields and a better cost-per-print. Replacement ink is cheap, which keeps running costs low over time, whether you're printing in black or color. It also supports printing directly from an SD card. Unfortunately, it takes more time to warm up and print out the first page, its color accuracy and photo quality are worse, and its flatbed scanner's hinges don't raise.
If you want a sturdy-feeling printer with better scanning functions, go with the Brother. Otherwise, if you print very often and need a more cost-effective supertank option, go with the Epson.
The best printer for students for black and white printing that we've tested is the Brother HL-L2390DW. This monochrome laser model feels amazingly well built and solid, with easy access to paper jams from the rear and a paper tray cassette that expands to accommodate different paper sizes. While it doesn't have a large footprint, it's fairly tall.
The cartridge system has an amazing black page yield so you won't need to replace the cartridge often, and because the toner is fairly inexpensive, the cost-per-print is superb as a result. Printing speed for black-only text documents is superbly quick, so essays print in no time. Its flatbed scanner has a good resolution and color depth, and the lid's hinges lift to easily scan thicker items.
Unfortunately, the photos it prints are monochrome and have terrible quality, but this is to be expected from a laser printer. Because the drum unit is separate, keep in mind you also need to replace it eventually. While its connectivity options are decent, it doesn't support printing via Bluetooth or directly from external storage. All in all, this is a great black and white printer for college students and a good choice if you need to print often and quickly in black and white.
If you don't need a scanner and want to save a bit of money, check out the Brother HL-L2370DW. It doesn't have a flatbed scanner like the Brother HL-L2390DW, and its display screen is even worse, but it's cheaper and has an even better cost-per-print. It's a simple, straightforward monochrome laser unit that prints black-only documents faster than the L2390DW and has an even better black-only page yield. You can also get an XXL-size high-yield cartridge that should give an even better page yield and cost-per-print, though we haven't tested this. You can also use its Ethernet port for network printing if you need. Unfortunately, it isn't any better suited for printing photos than the L2390DW.
If you need a monochrome laser printer with more features including a scanner, go with the L2390DW. If you want to save some money and don't mind not having a scanner, go with the L2370DW.
The best printer for college students for photos we've tested is the Canon PIXMA TS6320. It looks sleek and well designed, with two paper input trays that accommodate various paper sizes. The flatbed scanner lid's hinges raise to scan thicker items, and you can perform various scanning and print tasks directly from the superb Canon PRINT Inkjet/SELPHY app.
It produces excellent-looking photos with clear details, little banding, and vibrant colors that aren't overly saturated. The color accuracy is alright and might look different from the originals, but it should still be fine for casual use. Also, it yields a surprisingly good number of color documents, has an impressive overall cost-per-print, and also prints photos remarkably quick. Connectivity options are great and include Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct, among others.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have a sheetfed scanner, which could make processing many documents tedious. Also, there's no external storage printing support, so you need to take a few extra steps if you want to print photos taken with your camera. All in all, however, it's great for photos and an overall great printer if you're a college student.
The best cheap printer for college students that we've tested is the HP DeskJet 3755. It's very small and compact, which should be good if you're low on desk space, and it comes equipped with a sheetfed scanner despite its size. Connectivity options are decent, and you can print via Wi-Fi Direct, Apple AirPrint, and Mopria Print service, among others.
It prints photos with good quality and good details, and while its color accuracy isn't suitable if you need exact color reproduction, it's still impressive enough for casual use. The HP Smart companion app is decent, allowing you to manage your Instant Ink subscription, scan, print, and use the mobile fax feature directly from the app.
Unfortunately, its print yield is terrible, so while replacement ink cartridges are reasonably priced, the cost-per-print is very high. It also prints documents and photos very slowly, and the rear input tray tends to get stuck when sliding it. That said, it's a decent choice if you only plan to print sparingly and is a great printer if you're looking to save money.
Jun 11, 2021: Changed the categories and pick recommendations to better line up with student needs. Added the Brother MFC-J805DW INKvestment Tank, Brother HL-L2390DW, Brother HL-L2370DW, Canon PIXMA TS6320, and HP DeskJet 3755 as picks.
Apr 13, 2021: Verified accuracy of picks. No change in recommendations.
Feb 12, 2021: Replaced the Canon imageCLASS MF644Cdw with the Canon imageCLASS MF743Cdw for 'Best Laser Printer for Students' due to better performance, and replaced the Canon PIXMA TS8220 with the Canon PIXMA TR7520 for 'Best Budget Printer for Students' because the TS8220 is discontinued. Moved Canon PIXMA TS5320 from 'Cheaper Alternative' to Notable Mentions since it's no longer cheaper than the budget pick.
Dec 15, 2020: Updated text for accuracy and clarity; no changes to product picks.
Jul 23, 2020: Replaced the Canon PIXMA TR7520 with Canon PIXMA TS8220, replaced the Brother MFC-L2750DW with the Canon imageCLASS MF445dw.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best printers for most college 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.