The 5 Best Printers for College Students of 2020

Print your term paper right before you head to class

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The Rundown
"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."

The best printers for college students have a range of capabilities and features similar to the ones you’ll see in the best home printers, but choosing one depends on a student’s individual needs and requirements, which may vary from affordability to the ability to print in color.

There are some great affordable options on the market, giving almost any student the ability to print papers, photos, and more from the comfort of their dorm, but turn to wireless connectivity if you really want the best bang for your buck. With more and more students working on various devices, from the best laptops for college students to the best tablets, printing flexibility can be a huge benefit, especially for the students who need last-minute printing jobs. 

The best printers for college students should also be as low-maintenance as possible. That doesn’t just mean having a small footprint in a small dorm room—it means not having a printer that’s more trouble than it’s worth. Look for a printer that uses less ink (typically a laser printer), is easy to set up and maintain, and that is more versatile. Printer capabilities have come a long way, and students can benefit from having an efficient, affordable, and versatile machine at their fingertips. Below are the best printers for college students regardless of budget.

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

If you’re a student that will heavily rely on photo printing specifically, the best photo printer you can buy is the Canon SELPHY CP1300. It’s a relatively compact photo printer, but relies on a separate battery if you want to make it portable. Otherwise, you’re looking at a great print quality for a low operating cost, if you can tolerate the slow printing. You’ll benefit from wireless printing through the company’s PRINT downloadable smartphone app for Android and iOS. A 3.2-inch display helps to select, edit and print photos from a memory card or directly from a USB cable.

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

If saving a ton of cash on ink is important to you, the best laser printer on the market is the Brother HL-L2350DW printer. Toner will last you a long time, and dual-sided printing combined with Brother’s own high-yield ink cartridges to cut down on the number of ink refills. If you were hoping for a color printing, you will have to look elsewhere: the Brother HL-L2350DW is a black-and-white printer, but for those of you who have no need for regular color printing will find no problem here. Otherwise, this printer is a little big and bulky, so if space is an issue, carefully consider where you can place it before buying. On the flip side, wireless printing makes it easy to print directly from a laptop, smartphone or tablet without a tangle of cables.

Best Splurge: Epson Expression ET-2650 EcoTank

Ideal for students who print a nearly endless stream of term papers, assignments or syllabi throughout the school year, the Epson Expression includes two years of ink or the equivalent of 20 printer cartridges, so it's probably worth ponying up some extra money. To put things into perspective, 20 printer cartridges is enough ink to print to 4,000 pages in black or up to 6,500 pages in color. 

The Epson incorporates built-in wireless printing from mobile devices and Wi-Fi direct technology to print even when a wireless signal is not available. A 1.44-inch color LCD helps to easily navigate the menu for quickly setting up the printer and connecting to a wireless network. The Epson incorporates an SD memory card slot for printing documents and photos directly from the printer without the need for a phone or computer.

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

All in all, if you’re looking for a truly great buy, our overall pick, the HP Envy Pro 6455 is your best bet. For a great price, you’ll get wireless and cloud storage access and capabilities, and the ability to scan, copy, and print brilliantly-colored photos. Plus, you’ll be saving on ink if you opt into HP’s instant ink replacement service, making for a hassle-free printing experience. It stands out from all our other picks thanks to its ease-of-use and versatility.

How We Tested

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About our Trusted Experts

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.