Apple Is Giving Away Free AirPods in This Year’s Back to School Promotion

Apple Back to School Credit: Apple
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Apple has once again launched its annual Back to School promotion a few weeks early this year, giving students and educators extra time to take advantage of the latest offer.

Although Apple’s Back to School promotions have long offered a free pair of Beats headphones with the purchase of a new Mac or iPad, the company changed things up a bit last year by including AirPods in the offer for the first time.

It now looks like this was the beginning of a new trend, with basically the same deal this year. Educational customers picking up select Mac or iPad models can get a free set of standard AirPods, but this year Apple is also offering a 20% discount on AppleCare+ purchased for any of these educational products.

Just like last year, this deal only includes the standard $159 AirPods, however educational customers can upgrade to the AirPods with Wireless Charging case or the AirPods Pro by paying the $40 or $90 difference, respectively. Sadly, the AirPods Max are not eligible for this offer, however.

Apple’s Prior Back to School Promotions

From 2015 to 2019, Apple’s back-to-school promotions only bundled Beats headphones, after switching away from offering Apple Store gift cards in the years before that.

However, the promotions always tended to be a bit more complicated, even in the days of Apple Store gift cards, since Apple offered different values depending on the device being purchased.

For instance, users purchasing an eligible Mac could choose any pair of Beats headphones up to the $299 Beats Studio 3, while iPad customers were only eligible for the BeatsX or Beats Solo 3 Wireless at values of up to $199, and could only get the Beats Studio 3 if they wanted to pay the $100 difference.

Apple took a similar tack with its Gift Cards, offering a $100 Apple Store Gift card for Mac buyers versus a $50 gift card when purchasing an iPad. Back then, however, Apple also offered the same $50 gift card with the purchase of an iPhone, but this hasn’t been included in the Back to School Promotions since 2014.

Eligible Devices

This year Apple is keeping things much simpler, although it’s also not offering as much value as it has in the past. Rather than offering different promotion levels for different Macs and iPads, Apple has decided that all educational customers will get the same $159 AirPods offer regardless of what they buy. Plus, pretty much every Mac and iPad currently sold by Apple is eligible, from the $699 Mac mini all the way up to the $6,000 Mac Pro. Here’s the full list:

  • iMac (24-inch M1 or 27-inch Intel)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch M1, 13-inch Intel, and 16-inch Intel)
  • MacBook Air (M1)
  • Mac mini (M1 and Intel)
  • iPad Pro (2021 M1)
  • iPad Air (4th-generation).

Configure-to-order versions of any Mac are also eligible for the Back to School offer.

Notably, however, the 8th-generation iPad and the 5th-gen iPad mini are excluded from this offer. This doesn’t seem unreasonable, considering that both of these devices don’t sell for much more than the AirPods themselves, especially at educational prices of $309 and $379, respectively. By comparison, the iPad Air 4 represents the most inexpensive qualifying device on the list, and it starts at $549.

As in prior years, the Back to School promotion is available to employees of K-12 educational institutions, including school board members, PTA and PTO executives, and homeschool teachers, as well as faculty, staff, students, and parents of higher education institutions.

The promotion begins today, June 17, and runs until September 27.

What Does This Mean for New Macs?

The fact that Apple has included all Macs — both Intel and M1 — without any specific exceptions could indicate that the rumoured “M1X” MacBook Pro models may not be on the table until after September 27.

However, we also wouldn’t read too much into that. After all, Apple only just started shipping the 24-inch M1 iMac in May, and it’s still included in the offer — even though many users are still waiting for theirs to arrive after shipping times started quickly slipping into July.

Further, there’s a good chance that Apple planned to announce a new MacBook Pro earlier this month, and was only forced to call it off due to supply chain problems. Had it been announced, however, it almost certainly would have been included in the Back to School promotion, so the fact that it may come out more quietly later in the summer doesn’t necessarily exclude it.

So, it’s fair to say that the new MacBook Pro will arrive when it’s ready. Apple isn’t likely going to delay it artificially just because there’s an educational promotion going on now, but at the same time, this also means that if you’re a student or educator hoping for a more powerful MacBook Pro, it may be worth holding off a bit before jumping on this promotion right away, just in case something new does show up before September 27.

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