The 7 Best Printers for College Students of 2020

Print your term paper right before you head to class

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The Rundown
"This all-in-one printer is excellent for any task you have to throw at it."
Runner-Up, Best Overall:
Canon Pixma iX6820 at Walmart
"This wireless printer is a great option for anyone looking for a business-oriented solution."
"Helps to select, edit and print photos from a memory card or directly from a USB cable."
"Can zip out a speedy 32 pages per minute."
"Includes two years of ink or the equivalent of 20 printer cartridges."
"If you need to tote around your printer, the Epson WorkForce WF-110 is our pick for the best portable printer for college students."
"For a reliable laser color printer, opt for the Canon Color ImageCLASS LB622Cdw."

When it comes to choosing the best printers for college students, there are a litany of different options you can choose from to find the right unit for your purposes. However, figuring out the best one for the student in your life depends on a variety of individual needs and even requirements per school. These can vary from pricing to whether you can send documents to print wirelessly or not. 

Printers come in various configurations, all with different use cases. Most are also quite affordable, offering students the freedom to print papers, photos, or important projects from the dorm or at home. They're also capable of printing wirelessly should the need arise. Students are increasingly looking to utilize electronic solutions for educational needs and beyond, especially for those who use their printers with the best tablets on the market or the best laptops for college students. 

The best printers for college students don't have to be intimidating. They can be full-featured and low-maintenance if that's your preference. If you want a reliable printer that's still useful in a variety of situations, you can look for economical printers, those that are simple to set up, and those that offer plenty of ways to be used in a creative setting. We've rounded up a lengthy selection of some of the best printers on the market. Here are some of the best printers for college students, no matter what students are in need of.

What We Like
  • Large touchscreen to control printer

  • Individual ink system

  • Wireless connectivity

  • Automatic expandable output tray

What We Don't Like
  • More for a connected student, those without Wi-Fi may find it difficult to use

  • Will be relatively expensive to replace ink

This all-in-one printer is excellent for any task you have to throw at it. Whether you're looking for the most efficient printing or scanning job or compatibility with a wide variety of devices, you've found it here. It even includes a 4.3" LCD touchscreen to help make printing jobs similar. It includes an auto expandable output tray meant for smartphone and tablet printing, which will "expand" to your command when connecting via a mobile device. 

What's more, it also uses a six individual ink system for the best, deepest colors possible. If you're looking to automate your printing process even further, you can integrate the printer with Alexa or Google Assistant as well. It's certainly a print meant more for those who use Wi-Fi connections or mobile devices, so if you're not as connected as you'd like to be it could be a pass. For everyone else, this printer is a no-brainer.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Canon Pixma iX6820

What We Like
  • Capable of handling various document sizes

  • Quick to print documents online

  • Efficient and reliable

What We Don't Like
  • A bit on the expensive side

  • Will need to have ink replaced sooner than usual depending on print size

  • Works best with Canon paper, limiting photo paper option

This wireless printer is a great option for anyone looking for a business-oriented solution. It can output large mailers, spreadsheets, and even presentation charts and materials. It prints at an exceptionally high DPI, which means it's great for projects that require large papercrafts. It can also print websites very quickly, with a speed of 14.5 images per minute for black and 10.4 images per minute for color. 

It's even capable of printing capable photos, with a special set of ChromaLife100+ print heads that are designed to work best with Canon photo paper and other items sold by the manufacturer. Photos on this paper are said to last for up to 300 years when properly stored, which means academic papers should be just fine.

Best for Photos: Canon SELPHY CP1300

What We Like
  • Great print quality

  • Versatile

  • Low operating cost

What We Don't Like
  • No touchscreen

  • Slow printing

  • Requires a separate battery to be portable

For students who regularly require a reliable photo printer, the Canon SELPHY CP1300 is exactly what you're looking for. Compact and full-featured, it serves up high-quality prints for an affordable price, but it will need a bit of time to produce said images. It can become a portable printer if you add an additional battery, however, which only extends its repertoire of tricks. It can be utilized as a wireless printer by way of a useful iOS and Android app. A 3.2-inch display makes it simple to select, edit, and print photos straight from a USB connection or an SD card full of prints.

Best Laser: Brother HL-L2350DW Compact Monochrome Laser Printer

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Toner lasts a long time

  • Easy setup

What We Don't Like
  • Big and bulky

  • Monochrome only

This laser printer is ready to help you save heaps of cash when it comes to printing a wide variety of documents. It offers dual-sided printing as well as high-yield ink cartridges to help you save more money. You simply won't have to buy as many refills with this particular model. Not only that, but it only offers black-and-white printing, so you'll be able to print most school-related papers without splurging on a regular laser printer. Its biggest downfall is that it's a little large, but that can be circumvented by placing in an area of your home with more room thanks to its wireless capabilities.

Best Splurge: Epson Expression ET-2650 EcoTank

This printer is absolutely perfect for students who have tons of papers they need to print on a regular basis. The Epson Expression comes packing about two years' worth of ink, and that means you're getting your money's worth, even by spending a bit more than you normally would on this printer. When you're getting enough ink to print around 4,000 black and white pages or 6,500 color pages, the value becomes clear. Plus, you can use the Epson Expression to connect to Wi-Fi to print even when there isn't a wireless signal available. There's also an SD card for easily finding documents and printing them from physical media.

Best Portable: Epson WorkForce WF-110

What We Like
  • Compact design

  • Wireless

  • Photo printing

  • Battery-powered

What We Don't Like
  • Ink runs out quickly

  • Reports of connectivity issues

If you need to tote around your printer, the Epson WorkForce WF-110 is our pick for the best portable printer for college students. It’s as small as can be, and is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that offers dependable performance in a compact package. An external accessory battery is even available for greater dependability, and you will save battery life with the automatic power-off feature. Print quickly while you’re on the go, wherever and whenever, thanks to WiFi connectivity, and connect a laptop, smartphone, or other mobile devices via a wireless network.

It’s a compact printer, which means that it’s also quite basic—it only prints, and does not have fax, scanning, or copying capabilities. If you need to print photos in addition to papers, you’re in luck: the Epson WorkForce WF-110 borderless 4" X 6" photos. According to users, the ink is quick to run out and you may have some connectivity issues. But all in all, it’s the most efficient portable printer for college students.

Best Color Printer: Canon Color ImageCLASS LBP622Cdw

What We Like
  • Laser printer

  • Easy set up

  • Fast printing

  • Compatible across devices

What We Don't Like
  • Surprisingly quick to go through toner

For a reliable laser color printer, opt for the Canon Color ImageCLASS LB622Cdw. This Canon printer is relatively compact, but is mighty: for students with paper-heavy coursework, this printer can handle an output of up to 2,500 pages per month. Colors come out beautifully and the printer is easy to set up.

If you’re looking for a multi-purpose printer, though, this isn’t the one for you. It can’t scan, copy, or fax—just print. And if you care about ink costs, many users report that the toner doesn’t last for as long as Canon claims it does. But for a low-maintenance and efficient color printer, for this price, it doesn’t get much better. Plus, you’ll be able to print from a variety of cloud services, like Apple Air Print.

Final Verdict

If you're looking for the best possible printer for a college student, the Canon TS8320 is the obvious choice. It can handle any printing job with panache, with a variety of inks to handle whatever color or monochromatic job you need. From brochures to demonstrate creative writing to black and white to handle that important thesis, this printer is fit to take on just about any kind of work with style. It's also compact and affordable, two important factors that any college student should consider.

About our Trusted Experts

Brittany Vincent is a freelance video game and entertainment writer whose work has been featured in publications and online venues including G4TV.com, Joystiq, Complex, IGN, GamesRadar, Destructoid, Kotaku, GameSpot, Mashable, and The Escapist.

Ann-Sophie Kaemmerle has been writing and editing since 2015, covering a wide range of topics in the media, tech, and E-commerce industries, and has a wide breadth of knowledge in topics from online security, online dating, student loans, to other services.

What to look for in the best printers for college students

Price: More frugal college students looking for a budget buy will want to weigh the value of a printer with the price. The key is opting for a printer that will save you costs in the long run, and that will require little maintenance. These printers are not necessarily the cheapest, but may be more cost-efficient.
Size: College dorm rooms are not known for their spaciousness, so most college students will have to use space efficiently. Big and bulky printers may not be the best fit, so smaller and more compact options may prove to be more attractive.
Printing volume: Your best guess as to how much you’ll be printing every month will inform your choice of printer. Some have lower print volumes, which means that it’s not recommended to print more than the amount indicated. If that number is low, and you think you risk going over it, then it’s probably not the best choice. Your printing volume per month will also inform how you approach ink purchasing and ink usage: opt for more ink-efficient printers for higher volumes so you don’t need to worry about refills as often.