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Frequently Asked Questions

Virginia Tech is committed to the education of the whole person. We recognize computers to be an extension of the learning tools needed to compete professionally and to co-exist socially. The computer requirement is a natural step in preparing our students to be skilled in the use of technology. The university has the intellectual and technological infrastructure in place, making the transition extremely easy. Wireless network service is available in all residence halls, all academic buildings and some on-campus public areas.  

Virginia Tech also currently offers more than 100 classes on-line and that number is growing each day. Most classes already have an on-line component, whether it's conducting research over the Internet, downloading class notes, or "chatting" with your professor or classmates on-line to discuss class projects and lectures. The university also teaches distance learning classes to locations across the state, the country, and the globe.

Yes, almost certainly; however, the system you buy now should still meet your needs and serve you well for 4 years.

Your system must meet the university minimum specifications and/or college/department specifications so that it is compatible with Virginia Tech's network, and with the software/hardware used by your professors and classmates. If you currently own a computer that falls within the range in the table, you can start off with that computer unless your major requires otherwise. Be advised that your major may require that you get a better computer during your academic career, especially if you plan to start with a low-end model. If you have declared a major, please check the List of Specifications or call your department to confirm the configuration you will need.

The computer specifications we recommend are broad enough so that you will be able to use any of the machines to successfully complete your course work at Virginia Tech regardless of your major.  Some departments or colleges do have specific hardware requirements. For example, the Department of Dairy Science requires students to use the PC platform (laptop or tablet format is acceptable) and the Department of English suggests students use the Macintosh platform.

If you anticipate changing your major (as some students do), you may want to consider a lease option until you have decided upon a major and determined what your long term needs will be.

In order to help streamline the university’s support for our students and to ensure that all students have access to the latest versions of the Microsoft Office and Windows, all incoming undergraduate and transfer students are required to purchase the Incoming Undergraduate bundle. This Microsoft Enrollment for Education Solutions software can only be obtained through Virginia Tech Software Service Center due to licensing differences with other sources.  We realize that if you purchase a new computer that it will ship with the latest version of Windows so you are probably asking why you need to purchase the Operating System again. Bundle purchases receive Operating System and Office Suite upgrades when they become available at no additional charge. Additionally support for these applications is streamlined as technicians refine support programs. Additional information and Frequently Asked Questions can be found at Software Service Center.  

Additional software required by specific departments or courses is usually available from Software Service Center (3240 Torgersen Hall), university computer labs, or can usually be purchased from the University Bookstore just as you would purchase a textbook.


To ensure that you receive the most recent technology Virginia Tech highly recommends that you wait until the summer before you arrive on campus to purchase a computer.

No student will be denied admission to Virginia Tech based on an inability to afford a computer. 

Students and parents are encouraged to check with their own lending institutions for information about low-interest or deferred loans to meet this specific requirement.

Virginia Tech is working with vendors to help provide students with the option to purchase the most current hardware and software at an affordable cost.

Please contact University Scholarships and Financial Aid if you are having difficulties purchasing a computer. Email: Phone: 540-231-5179

Students may file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal and state financial aid and use this aid to pay for a computer. Parents may apply for a PLUS Loan as well. Students may choose to file a Cost of Attendance appeal with University Scholarships and Financial Aid to increase their costs to help pay for the purchase of a computer.

While this allowance increases eligibility, there is no guarantee there will be increased financial aid funds to respond to that eligibility. 

For more information, see University Scholarships and Financial Aid page. Email:  Phone: 540-231-5179

No, financial aid cannot be disbursed any earlier than the Friday before the first day of the semester. We suggest that families make alternate arrangements, such as a short term personal loan, until financial aid funds are available. Please contact University Scholarships and Financial Aid if you are having difficulties.

For more information, see the University Scholarships and Financial Aid page or send email to:

It depends. If a student is a permanent resident alien, with a valid green card, they may be able to apply for Federal and State aid. If a student is in the U.S. on a student visa, F or J series, Federal and State aid cannot be processed because of Federal and State financial aid regulations requiring that a student be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien.

There are some private lenders who will process loans for students in this situation provided they can provide a United States citizen co-borrower.

For more information, see the University Scholarships and Financial Aid page or send email to:

During First-Year Orientation in June/July, you will have an opportunity to visit the Computer Vendor Resource Fair where the University Bookstore and several computer vendors will have various computer models on display and representatives available to talk with students and parents.

Before you buy a computer, please read the information on the Computer Requirement website carefully. Virginia Tech requires that entering students have a laptop or tablet computer and strongly recommends that entering students obtain a computer that meets (or exceeds) the university minimum specifications and/or college/department specifications. 

If you have declared a major, please check the List of Specifications or contact your department to confirm the configuration you will need.  In some cases, departments require specific hardware and/or software that may vary from the university baseline specification.

Be sure to buy a computer that meets the minimum specifications with supported hardware and a 3-year onsite service and support with accidental damage coverage warranty (4-year is recommended). You can always check the University Bookstore site for options that will fit your needs.

The University Bookstore is closely associated with the University and interested in sales and support for computers that meet or exceed the requirements. They have the advantage of being located on and just off campus and are warranty support centers for the models they sell. You also have access to their pool of loaner computers if yours needs service. Although we do not require purchase from them, we do recommend that you consider them when you are purchasing your student's system. You will find a link to their website below.

University Bookstore

If your major requires use of a Windows based software product, please note that new Macs with the Apple M1 chip, and Surface Pro X with ARM processor may not run the required Windows based software locally. You should only purchase an Apple M1 chip Mac or Surface Pro X with ARM processor if your major requires you to run a Windows based product and they either provide remote access to a Windows operating system or confirm the required software will run with an M1 chip Mac or ARM based Surface Pro. Please check with your major before you purchase either an M1 chip Mac or Surface Pro X. Refer to the List of Specifications to see requirements for your major.