Computer Requirement Frequently Asked Questions
The computer requirement is a natural step in preparing our students to be skilled in the use of instructional technology. Already, the university has the intellectual and technological infrastructure in place, making the transition extremely easy.
Wireless network service is available in all residence halls and most instructional and on-campus public areas. Several of the academic programs have had a mandatory requirement for their students for sometime now. In fact, more than seventy-five percent of our students arrived at Virginia Tech with computers at the start of their college careers prior to the implementation of the university requirement.
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 sophisticated network, and with the software and 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 College and Department 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 use the PC platform (laptop or tablet format is acceptable) and the Department of English suggest students use the Macintosh platform and requires the laptop format.
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 productivity suite and operating system, 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.
Manufacturers typically update technology and provide specifications for new models during the spring. Therefore, 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.
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.
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.
It depends. If a student is a permanent resident alien, with a valid green card, s/he 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.
During First Year Orientation in July, you will have an opportunity to visit the Computer Vendor Resource Fair in Squires Student Center 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.
Faculty, staff, and students are able to connect their portable computers to the campus network in over eighty-five percent of the academic and administrative buildings using wireless networking. Wireless networking is available in most instructional and on-campus public areas and will continue to be expanded. Find information about locations where wireless service is available.
If you have declared a major, please check the College and Department List of Specifications or call 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.
If your department has recommended a vendor, give it serious consideration. Otherwise, shop around and compare vendors, prices, reputation, repair plans, and warranties. Check vendor web sites, shop at the Blacksburg campus University Bookstore and its Volume II store. Be sure to buy a computer that meets the minimum specifications with supported hardware (especially the NIC/Ethernet card) and a 3-year onsite service and support with accidental damage coverage warranty (4-year is recommended).
We do not recommend that you purchase from big box retailers, consumer electronics retailers or catalog merchants, etc. These computers are usually consumer grade machines and are not business grade machines. This accounts for the difference in pricing in conjunction with the extended manufacturer warranty (3-year on-site service support with accident damage coverage / 4-year is highly recommended) which is required.
The University Bookstore and its Volume II Bookstore are 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. Although we do not require purchase from them, we do recommend that you consider them when you are purchasing you student's system. You will find a link to their website below.