What's the best way to offer an educational discount online?


I'm thinking about offering a discount to students for a software product. I may even give them free licenses. What's the best/easiest way of verifying that someone is a student or an educator?

Would checking that their account is tied to an .edu email address be a good way to go? Are there people who are students who don't have an .edu email address who would be left out by that method?

Any ideas on how the big companies like Adobe or Microsoft do this?

Pricing Education

asked Aug 9 '11 at 01:13
Coder Dennis
691 points

4 Answers


There are a number of methods different companies use, none of which is bullet-proof.

For me, your basic choice is whether to manually vet every application - in which case you can use .edu email address as part of your verification, and also capture edge cases. I quite like this example of structuring the choices.

In a startup context I would rather have people self-certify (that could include requiring a .edu email) and keep the thing automated. As long as you keep an audit trail, you can go back and verify a sample or/and suspicious cases. If you 'sell' gazillions of free licenses and nothing else, you may have a problem (but you also have a big opportunity!).

answered Aug 10 '11 at 20:53
Jeremy Parsons
5,197 points
  • I wish I could upvote again for the jetbrains link. Discounted price looks automated, but free license requires validation. – Coder Dennis 13 years ago
  • You're welcome :) As the question originator, you can always accept the answer – Jeremy Parsons 13 years ago
  • Accepted! I normally wait a few days to see what answers get posted. Thanks for the reminder! – Coder Dennis 13 years ago
  • Thx Dennis - good luck as you push out into the education market! – Jeremy Parsons 13 years ago


How the big boys do it:

  • Adobe online education purchases require you to provide a scanned copy of your education provided ID (e.g student card) which they confirm before accepting your order and sending a license key
  • Microsoft just require an edu address

Using an edu address would seem the easiest to automate but worth considering other education addresses if your software is suitable for global markets (e.g ac.uk for UK Universities) in that case.

answered Aug 10 '11 at 21:12
Lloyd S
1,292 points


Just automate it - it is not worth the hassle of checking up on people. .edu domain should be enough - though many people have access to edu mail addresses as alums.

A simpel check box that makes the person certify they are entitled to the discount along with the edu auto-check is the way I would go.

answered Aug 10 '11 at 22:13
Tim J
8,346 points


Amazon requires an .edu email address for the student prime.

Apple used to require a student ID number online. I think we just showed my wife's student in the Apple Store last time we got a mac. I'm not sure about online any more as it's been a while.

answered Aug 9 '11 at 10:06
181 points

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