College students head back to campus soon, and tuition is not the only expense they face. Books, electronics, school supplies, and even entertainment can be a big chunk of a back-to-school budget. But many tech companies, online services, and other businesses offer student discounts. To participate, you often have to confirm that you're enrolled in a school, either with an .edu email account or through a validation service such as SheerID or Unidays.

Tech deals

Before you buy any tech, find out if your school or academic department has specific requirements or recommendations, or if it provides any software. Some schools give students a free Microsoft Office 365 subscription, which includes Office apps, OneDrive storage, and monthly Skype minutes.

You also want to check with your school bookstore before you buy to see if has better discounts than those offered elsewhere.

Computer makers are a good place to start looking for discounts. Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and Lenovo, for example, all offer discounts on hardware.

Buying a used computer can cut your costs. Apple, for example, and MacSales.com sell refurbished Macs with warranties. Before buying, check what exactly a warranty covers and for how long.

Apple refurbished Macs

Software makers sometimes offer discounts. Microsoft cuts the price of its applications for students, as does Adobe.

Shopping sites

Amazon's Prime Student program gives college students a six-month trial that includes free two-day shipping, unlimited access to movies and TV shows via Prime Video, and unlimited online photo storage through Prime Photos. After six months, an annual membership goes for $49 (half the $99 cost of a regular Prime subscription). Amazon, like many of the businesses that offer student discounts, puts a four-year time limit on the length of time you can participate in the program.

Check out Amazon's textbook services, where you can buy, sell, and even rent textbooks.

And be sure to explore Amazon Basics, an Amazon-branded line of affordable products that range from cables and backpacks to batteries and towels.

Amazon Basics

Target has a wide range of housing and school supplies, from bath towels to notebooks. To get a one-time 15 percent discount on online school purchases, sign up for Target's college registry.

Music services

Qualifying college students can subscribe to Spotify Premium for $4.99 per month, half the regular subscription price. Spotify's terms and conditions page is a bit confusing but worth trying to make sense of if you are interested in saving five bucks a month on the music service.

Spotify Student Discount

If figuring out Spotify's student program is too much work, check out an Apple Music Student membership. A subscription costs $4.99 per month -- half the regular price -- and comes with a helpful sign-up page.

Tidal also offers 50 percent student discounts on both its Premium ($4.99 per month for AAC audio) and its Hi-Fi plans ($9.99 per month for lossless audio).

Amazon Prime Music is not included in the free six-month trial of the Prime Student program. When the trial period is up, however, the $49 annual membership gives you access to Prime Music.

Google Play Music does not have a student-discount program, but you might be able to jump on a family plan, if yours has one.

More Resources

Back-to-school apps

Back-to-school security

Clifford Colby follows the Mac and Android markets for Download.com. He's been an editor at Peachpit Press and a handful of now-dead computer magazines, including MacWeek, MacUser, and Corporate Computing.