Apple holds a Back to School promotion (now known as the Higher Education Offer) every year where it gives a free product - usually AirPods - away with purchases of qualifying Apple products.  

This is in addition to the year-long discounts Apple offers to students and education institutions on its Mac desktops and Mac laptops and iPads. We explain everything you need to know about using Apple's Education Store in this guide to shopping in the Apple Education Store.

What's included in Apple's Back To School sale this year? You can get free AirPods when you buy particular products with an education discount! But the deal only runs until 11 October 2021 in the UK and Europe (it's already finished in the US).

Read on to find out more.

When is Apple's Back to School Sale 2021?

Apple used to refer to this sale as the Back To School sale, but, probably because of the confusion this name caused (in the US people refer to university as school, while elsewhere school is primary and secondary education) Apple is now referring to it as the Higher Education Offer. That is essentially what this is: it's an offer to those in, or entering, Higher Education: that is university or college. 

Apple's Higher Education Offer usually runs from June to September in the US and Canada, and from July to October in the UK.

In Australia and New Zealand the sale takes place between January and March.

Apple Back to School Sale US & Canada dates

  • June 17 to September 27, 2021

Apple announced its Back to School sale for US & Canada back in June.

The promotion stated on 17 June 2021 and ran until 27 September 2021.

In 2020 Apple launched the US sale on 15 June with an end date set for 29 September, although Apple ended up extending the end date to 12 October instead, moving it to just a day before Amazon's Prime Day, which took place over 13-14 October 2020. Unfortunately Apple didn't extend the deadline in North America this year.

If you have missed this year's deal that's no reason for disappointment: Apple's education discounts are available all year round.

Visit the US Education Store and Canada Education Store for more information.

Apple Back to School Sale UK - dates

  • 15 July - 11 October 2021

On 15 July, the day before some UK schools broke up for the summer holidays, Apple confirmed its Higher Education Offer (aka Back to School Sale) for the UK Education Store.

The sale will run until Monday 11 October.

It is normal for Apple to announce the UK offer in July. Apple UK's Back to School Sale in 2020 started 9 July and lasted until 29 October. It also launched its 2019 sale on 9 July, though its 2018 sale started on 12 July.

If you have missed this year's deal that's no reason for disappointment: Apple's education discounts are available all year round.

Apple Back to School Sale Australia/New Zealand/South America

  • Estimated: January - March 2022

The dates in the southern hemisphere correspond with the new school year there.

Apple's Back to School Sale for Australia, New Zealand, and, South Korea started 7 January and ended on 16 March, 2021.

Apple Brazil's Back to School Sale started 6 January and ended on 15 March, 2021.

What was Apple's Student deal for 2021?

  • Free AirPods

Apple's 2021 Back to School offer was identical to the deal from 2020.

Thanks to the deal university students, or those just about to start university or higher education, will receive a free pair of AirPods (normally worth £159/$159/AUD$249) with a new Mac or iPad.

Alternatively you can spend a little more to upgrade your entry-level AirPods to the AirPods with Wireless Charger or the AirPods Pro. The AirPods Max isn't included in the offer (see where to buy the Max at the best price).

Students can get:

  • A free set of AirPods worth £159/$159.
  • Or, an AirPods and Wireless charging case set worth £199/$199 if you pay the £40/$40 difference.
  • Or, the AirPods Pro worth £159/$159 if you pay an extra £90/$90.

We are expecting that Apple will update the AirPods soon, so if you are considering this deal it might be wise to choose the AirPods Pro rather than the standard AirPods.

Which iPads are included in Apple's Back to School deal?

Not every Apple product you can buy in the Education Store is included in the free AirPods deal.

In 2021 Apple included the iPad Pro and iPad Air in the Back To School offer. But the iPad 8th generation and iPad mini 5th generation were excluded from the offer (which could have been a pointer to the fact that Apple would update those iPads in September 2021).

The Apple Education Store in the US lists all the iPads, so you can still get discounted Educational Pricing on the iPad and iPad mini if you qualify, you just won't be able to get the free pair of AirPods.

Thanks to Apple's education pricing you can get the qualifying iPads at the following prices:

  • iPad Pro US$899 (usually US$799) / CA$939 (usually CA$999)
  • iPad Air US$549 (usually US$599) / CA$719 (usually CA$779)

If you don't qualify for the education pricing we have a separate guide on where to get the best deals on the iPad.

Which Macs are included in Apple's Back to School deal?

If you qualify for Apple's Back to School deal you can buy any Mac. The iMac, Mac mini, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air, and all configure-to-order versions are included.

Thanks to Apple's education pricing you can get Macs at the following prices:

  • MacBook Air US$899 (usually US$999) / CA$1,169 (usually CA$1,299)
  • MacBook Pro US$1,199 (usually US$1,299 / CA$1,569 (usually CA$1,699)
  • iMac US$1,249 (usually US$1,299) / CA $1,539 (usually CA$1,599)
  • Mac mini US$649 (usually US$699) / CA $829 (usually CA$899)

Students can also get 20% off AppleCare+.

There are similar discounts in the UK, although students and educators will need to log in via UNiDAYS website to see the offers. Educational Store discounts are usually up to £280 for UK students.

If you don't qualify for an education discount have a look at these round ups of the best deals on a new Mac:

Who can get Apple's Back to School deal

If you are registered at a higher education facility (that's post-K12 education, universities and colleges) you will qualify for the free AirPods deal as well as Apple usual education discount. Employees of these institutions can also qualify. If you are a parent buying for your student offspring then you can also qualify.

Alternatively, if you are an employee of a public or private K-12 institution/school in the US or Canada you are also eligible. Apple's Education pricing isn't available to parents with kids at school, but a homeschool teacher can qualify.

Even when Apple isn't running the Back to School Deal students and education institutions can still take advantage of its standard educational pricing on its Educational Pricing page (US here/UK here).

How to get Apple's Back to School deal

In the US you'll be able to visit Apple's US Education Store, but logging on from your university network may make the process easier. 

In the UK you will need to verify your student or staff status with UNiDAYS, which is also how you would access its Back to School offers.

Go to the Apple Education Store for other regions using the links below:

When you make your purchase you will be able to request the AirPods that you want at checkout and pay the extra if you wish to upgrade to the wireless AirPods or the AirPods Pro.

It's worth checking out our student deals hub for more great back-to-school offers.