Admissions

I Need An .edu Address for Free Amazon Prime. How Do I Get One?

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Question: I will be a college freshman in the fall. I’ve heard that Amazon Prime has a special free membership for college students. Since I’ll be attending a college that is far from home, I thought I could order some of the items I’ll need for my dorm from Amazon and then have them shipped to my college for free. But when I went to sign up on Amazon, I needed an “.edu” email address. I feel stupid but I don’t know what that is.

Every college freshman feels “stupid” on a regular basis when it’s time to start a new life in an unfamiliar place. So congratulations ... you’ve just started feeling stupid a bit ahead of the curve.  ;-) But you’ve also done something very smart ... you’ve asked for an explanation instead of suffering in silence.


As you begin college, you will be assigned an email address with the college name in it and an .edu “suffix.” Typically, a college email address includes your first initial and your last name — up to just eight characters, if your last name is long (e.g., mzuckerb@harvard.edu). If your surname is a common one, you may find that a middle initial or other identifier is included (e.g., hjpotter@hogwarts.edu). This will be your official college address, and you can choose to use it for all of your correspondence, or you can keep your current address (which probably has a .com or .net suffix) for your friends and other personal mail and use your .edu address for only school-related matters. That’s entirely up to you.

Many college-bound students know their .edu address before they have even graduated from high school. You can check your college’s entering-student portal (if there is one) to see if you, too, have an email address already. If not, contact the admission office or the Information Technology office to find out when you will receive your new address.

Some businesses (such as Amazon) and other organizations that offer benefits to college students will require an .edu email address upon registration in order to verify eligibility. (Believe it or not, in the early days of Facebook, an .edu address was necessary to join!).  “The Dean” agrees that the Amazon deal will be a useful one for you. It provides six months of all the Prime pluses (free two-day shipping; streaming movies, TV shows and music; discounts on textbooks, electronics, etc.). And once the free trial period is over, you can keep your Prime membership at a special student rate.

Like you, many students realize that Amazon Prime is a great way to send all sorts of necessities to campus ... from toothpaste to towels and bean bag chairs to bookcases ... without overloading the family minivan or paying hefty excess-baggage fees on airplanes. And once your semester is underway, you may even find that it’s more cost-effective to order from Amazon when you need a surge protector (or a Snickers bar!) than it is to Uber to Target.

You can find lists providing some of the other discounts available to students with an .edu address at the Penny Hoarder, USA Today and 9To5Mac.

Note also that Amazon and some other enterprises allow students without an .edu address to sign up by providing alternate proof of enrollment such as a dated acceptance letter, transcript or invoice.

If you plan to join Amazon Prime this summer and send your purchases straight to school, be sure to check with your college to learn if you need to be there first or if the mail room will hold packages that arrive before you do. Also request your official college snail-mail address. This will probably be assigned around the same time that you get your .edu email address, and you may need it for all of your Amazon orders.

In fact, as you begin to navigate your college world, more questions like these are sure to arise.  Although there will certainly be times when you do feel “stupid” for asking, keep in mind that you will feel far more stupid if you finally find the dining hall just when the last of the desserts are being cleared from the buffet line or if you show up at the football team’s welcome meeting when you were really heading to field hockey. So put your inhibitions on hold and ask away!

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