The Best VPNs for College Students

Marla Milano

Marla Milano Last updated: September 17, 2021

The Best VPNs for College Students

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VPNs are an underrated and often overlooked tool that helps students have a smoother (and safer) college experience. With many in-person classes resuming this fall, students need to protect their data when connecting to a public network. Think about it, when you connect to WiFi at a coffee shop or even a library, your IP address is exposed to anyone else connected to that same network. This gives hackers a massive window of opportunity to send cyber or malware attacks to your device. 

Why You Need a VPN for School

You need to prepare for many firsts when going off to college, especially if it’s your first time leaving home. Much like textbooks, classes, and meeting new people, using a VPN is key to a smooth transition from home to college life. Many students, for example, need internet access in not only their dorms but libraries and classrooms to take notes and do homework. Because all of these networks are public, students are much more susceptible to cyberattacks.

Cyberattacks can range anywhere from phishing and malware attacks to unwanted tracking and identity theft. VPNs decrease the likelihood of any cybersecurity issues because they do a great job of encrypting your data. When you connect your server to a VPN, you will not only be able to change the location of your IP address but be able to browse online 100% anonymously. VPNs, in other words, ensure that your data will not be compromised or visible to hackers.

Aside from privacy issues, VPNs can help students access any content blocked by college administrators. These content blocks can be frustrating for students because there are times when the websites they need to access for research have blackout restrictions. Of course, there are plenty of good reasons for colleges to have content blocks, but these blocks can also make the research process much more time-consuming.

Another great perk for students downloading a VPN is that they unlock access to additional content on streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu. Essentially, because you can connect to servers in different countries, VPNs help you access content catalogs from all over the world on your streaming platform of choice.

VPN Best Practices for Students

We get it – there’s a lot to consider when downloading the right VPN for your needs. When it comes to finding the best VPNs for college students, we factored in solid privacy features, access to a large number of servers, and price into our search. It’s also important to consider device compatibility and speeds, as you don’t want to download a VPN that ends up not working with your devices or loading too slowly. Take a look at our best VPNs for students this fall below.

VPNLowest Price# of DevicesAvd. Download SpeedMoney-Back Guarantee
NordVPN$4.13/mo.698 Mpbs30 days
CyberGhost$2.25744 Mbps45 days
Surfshark$2.491073 Mbps30 days
ExpressVPN$8.32/mo.574 Mbps30 days
Atlas VPN$1.39/mo.Unlimited220 Mbps30 days

Our Top 5 Explained 

Now that you know what to look for, let’s go over our top 5 VPNs for students in detail. We hope this helps you find the best solution for you.

NordVPN

NordVPN is known for its robust security practices and versatile catalog of features. They are not only one of the original VPN providers but now have an intuitive interface, fast connection speeds, and military-grade encryption.

pros

  • Fast upload and download speeds
  • Large selection of server types for extra security
  • Unlocks international streaming platforms like Netflix

cons

  • It can be pricey, depending on the plan
  • No free trial
  • Lack of servers in Africa and the Middle East

CyberGhost

CyberGhost is a fast, secure, and easy-to-use VPN. It not only has reputable privacy features but has affordable long-term plans.

pros

  • Intuitive to set up and install
  • Easy money-back guarantee
  • Additional features built-in such as ad-blockers

cons

  • Not the fastest speeds compared to other premium VPNs
  • Logs some anonymous data
  • Only offers a short 1-day free trial for testing

Surfshark

Surfshark is a budget-friendly VPN focused on privacy. You will get many features with your money with Surfshark, including an excellent team of customer service experts.

pros

  • Great value for money
  • Connect to an unlimited number of devices
  • Masks your location entirely and unlocks Netflix

cons

  • Monthly pricing structure is a bit steep
  • Slower speeds at times
  • A smaller network than some competitors

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access (PIA) is one of the best VPNs on the market. It not only has competitive pricing but also has excellent security features that keep you safe on public networks.

pros

  • Up to 10 simultaneous connections
  • Unblocks streaming sites like Netflix and Disney+
  • Cheaper than many premium options

cons

  • Can run into issues when purchasing PIA for the first time
  • Not the most intuitive interface
  • Not a ton of additional features

Atlas VPN

Atlas is a freemium VPN that offers robust features for a great price. While most free VPNs come with a catch, Atlas’s free and premium versions are incredibly reliable.

pros

  • Great free tier and highly affordable premium options
  • Optimized for Netflix
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

cons

  • Smaller server network
  • Speeds can be wonky in specific contexts
  • Need to provide an email address to sign up

Key Takeaways

VPNs are a better tool for students than one may initially think. Because many VPNs with great privacy features are affordable and easily accessible, students will have the opportunity to browse safely online while accessing more content on campus.