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$5 a year for Photoshop? Yes, as Adobe slashes education pricing

Adobe's full suite of software, which also includes Illustrator and Premiere Pro, plunges from its previous price of $240 a year for kids in K-12.

Adobe Systems offers its full suite of software through its Creative Cloud subscription.

Adobe Systems offers its full suite of software through its Creative Cloud subscription.

Adobe Systems

You may think of Photoshop, Premiere Pro and After Effects as expensive professional tools for photographers and video editors, but Adobe Systems wants them to be what your kid sees when flipping open the laptop lid at school.

Adobe will offer K-12 schools its full suite of Creative Cloud software for $5 per student per year, starting May 15, it said Thursday. That's a radical discount compared with the regular $600 annual price for the software, or the individual student pricing of $240 per year -- a cost that jumps to $360 after the first year.

The new pricing isn't available for individual students. It requires schools to purchase at least 500 licenses or school districts to purchase at least or 2,500 licenses, said Sharif Karmally, senior marketing manager for Adobe's Creative Cloud for Education program, in a blog post.

Creative Cloud titles also include Lightroom for photography, Illustrator for vector graphics, Audition for audio editing, Dreamweaver and Muse for website creation, XD for design, and more than a dozen other programs. Kids can use on home computers when they sign in, Adobe said.

"This makes it accessible to everyone," said Scott Belsky, Adobe's chief product officer and leader of the Creative Cloud products.

It also could help train a new generation of kids on Adobe tools that aren't as dominant in the smartphone era as they were a decade ago. Offering good education pricing students is a common practice among technology companies eager to turn today's students into tomorrow's long-term customers.

The education pricing deal will arrive for schools in the US, Europe, Japan, New Zealand and India, but Adobe will spread it to other countries, the company said. In the UK the price is £4.20 per month and in Europe €4.20.

Colleges, though, will have to make do without a new price cut. There, the Creative Cloud suite still costs $420 per year per student or $300 per device.

Adobe changed its pricing for younger students in part because of a study that showed educators wanted more creative problem-solving in schools, but classrooms aren't able to address the challenge. "Barriers including limited budgets, lack of access to technology, cost and time needed to train and learn to use new tools," Adobe said.

Training is indeed an issue even with relatively affordable software. Photoshop and Adobe's other software can be dauntingly complex -- hard for professionals to handle at times, much less kids just getting started. But Adobe has been working to improve introductions that greet new users and hopes to improve built-in tutorials, too, Belsky said.

Adobe also wants to give students long-term control over their projects so they don't lose their files when they graduate, he added.

First published May 3, 6 a.m. PT.

Update, May 24, 9:50 a.m. PT: Adds details on minimum purchase requirements for schools and school districts.

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