Helping students receive and maintain laptop computers

The College of Design Laptop program encourages, and makes more accessible, the ownership and operation of a correctly configured laptop computer.

Undergraduate and graduate students are presented with the opportunity to purchase a high-end laptop computer through the College of Design after entering their design program. The laptops come with access to technical support and commonly-used software in design, all at better prices than can typically be expected when purchasing directly from a retailer.

At Iowa State, all students are required to own or obtain a laptop computer or another discipline-appropriate device. The college also believe it is critical to a student’s educational success, and the technological experience will assist in future academic or professional endeavors. That’s why, through this program, students can benefit from:

  • The newest-available Apple MacBook Pro 16” laptop or Dell XPS 15″ laptop;
  • The latest in powerful design software necessary for most design programs;
  • Repayment plans, made to the College of Design, for the included materials over a period of three academic years, rather than a high up-front expense.

The Architecture, Community and Regional Planning, Industrial Design, Interior Design, and Landscape Architecture departments extensively use software only available on the Windows OS platform. If you are in one of these majors, you can only get the Dell option.

MacBook Pro 16” in Space Gray with Touch ID

$515 per semester for 6 semesters

  • Apple M2 Pro 10-Core CPU
  • 16GB Unified Memory
  • 512GB Solid-State Drive
  • 3 USB-C Thunderbolt 4 Ports
  • HDMI Port
  • SDXC card slot
  • 3-Year Extended AppleCare+ Warranty


  • 1-TB Portable External Hard Drive for backups and extra storage
  • Storage Sleeve, Padded

XPS 15 (9530)

$490 per semester for 6 semesters

  • Intel 14 Core 12th-generation i7 Processor (13700H)
  • 32GB System Memory 4800MHz DDR5
  • 512GB Solid-State Drive
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 with 6GB GDDR6 memory
  • 2x Thunderbolt 4 (USB Type-C) w/ Power Delivery and DisplayPort
  • 1 3.2 Gen 2 (USB Type-C) w/ Power Delivery and DisplayPort
  • 1 Full-size SD Card Reader v6.0
  • 4-Year Limited Hardware Warranty, Premium Support and Accidental Damage Service (1/year)


  • 1-TB Portable External Hard Drive for backups and external storage
  • Storage Sleeve, Padded
How do I pay for the laptop? Payment will be assessed to the student’s UBill, and financial aid may be used to make payments. The Design Laptop Program does not handle cash directly; all receivables will be handled through the Iowa State Treasurer’s Office.
Is this a lease? No. This program allows students to completely pay for the computer, software, and accessories over a three-year term. The college does maintain ownership until the end of the three-year term, ensuring that software programs the college owns can legally be installed and maintained. At the end of the agreement, the machine will be fully owned by the student.
Can I install my own software on the machine? Yes, the student will be a local administrator on the machine with full access. Third-party software legally purchased by the students or provided by a college department can be installed during or after the contract term. The college will assist technology support whenever possible but cannot guarantee third-party software licenses outside the scope of the Design Laptop Program.
Which option should I choose? The choice largely comes down to personal preference, though some college departments may have requirements or preferences based on software needs. Please check with your advisor to learn if your department has recommendations prior to selecting your machine.
What do I keep when the program is over? At the end of the three-year contract term, the student will have fully paid off the machine, accessories, and software packages included in the purchase price. After paying a small transfer fee of $5, ownership will be transferred to the student.
What if it takes longer than three years to complete my degree? Machines can continue to be supported by the program for an additional year while the student finishes a degree program. There are certain benefits that can’t be extended beyond three years, however. For example, while the AppleCare+ Warranty can be extended beyond three years, the college will not cover the additional cost and will be the responsibility of the student. There may also be charges for an additional year to continue software subscriptions.
Why do the available options cost so much? Students will need to use their machine, and run the latest software on it, for the duration of their degree program and beyond. That’s why this program is meant to provide better value than direct retail purchasing of the same or similar specification equipment, not necessarily the least expensive product on the market. The program runs on a cost-recovery basis only, not to make a profit for the college or university.
What if my laptop breaks? The college has a full-time technician and laptop program coordinator who is dedicated to supporting the program by troubleshooting and resolving software problems, arranging hardware-related repairs, re-installing programs, etc.
What if I drop my machine or it is stolen? The college purchases insurance for each unit, which is included in the program costs; the deductible for any and all claims is $500.
If my machine needs to go into service, do I get a loaner? The college does have a limited number of loaners available for use while repairs are being completed. The college will make every effort to get a machine into a student’s hands, but it is not guaranteed. The college computer lab will be available for use, and there are several options on campus for short-term laptop checkout if a loaner is not available at a particular time.
What happens if I decide to leave the university before the end of the program? You have two options, defined by the contract terms. The first option would be to find another eligible Design student to take over the computer, accessories, contract obligations and payments on your behalf. The second option is to purchase the remaining contract balance outright.
If I already have a laptop or I want to purchase my own, can I still get software or support from this program? The college can only support machines that are in the Design Laptop Program due to software restrictions and configuration issues. TechCYte at the University Book Store is a source for purchasing software and university IT Computer Services can perform hardware and software support (at a cost) for a personally purchased unit not in the Design Laptop Program.
Students working on class project in the King Pavillion.

A Cyclone in the Making

Find your place at Iowa State University’s College of Design, where we like to ask questions, poke and prod, create something new, and make a difference through design.