Software

Attention students and teachers: Check if you can get Office 365 for free now

Going back to school soon? You may be able to get your hands on a free full version of Microsoft Office with just a few steps.

Josh Miller/CNET

The school year is fast approaching and that means it's time to buy school supplies. If Microsoft Office is on your list, don't purchase it quite yet: there's a chance you can get it for free, courtesy of Microsoft.

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced it was giving away Office 365 subscriptions to New York City public school students, and later it opened up the program to students in dozens of countries around the world.

Now, any qualified student or faculty member can get a free Office 365 Education plan, which gives you unfettered access to Word, Excel and Powerpoint, plus the ability to collaborate with others in real-time using those programs. Here's how to get it.

Read over the eligibility requirements.

In order to get Office 365 Education you must:

  • Be an active full-or part-time student at a qualified school, college or university (more on that below).
  • Have an email address issued by your school, such as yourname@schoolname.edu.
  • Be at least 13 years old.
  • Have access to the Internet.

Check if your school is part of the program.

Your school must have purchased an Office license for the entire institution through Microsoft's Volume Licensing program to participate. Here's how to check:

  • Head to the Office 365 Education site and click the "Find out if you're eligible" button.
  • Enter your school email address.
  • Microsoft will send you an email with sign up instructions if you're eligible for Office 365.
  • If not, you'll get a message right away letting you know that Office 365 Education isn't available for your school.

Follow the directions in the email to complete the process and download Office. You'll be able to install the software on up to five Windows or Mac computers, plus download the Office mobile apps for Android, iOS or Windows tablets or phones. Your Office 365 subscription also entitles you to 1TB of free cloud storage in OneDrive.

Once you're signed up for Office 365 Education, you'll be able to download Office for free. Microsoft

Bonus: If you are not able to get Office 365 Education plan, there's still hope. You can still use Microsoft's free tools at Office.com, which includes Word, Powerpoint and Excel. Though they aren't the same as the paid desktop versions, they are only missing advanced features (like mail merge) that you likely won't miss anyway. Just keep in mind that you'll need an Internet connection at all times to use Office.com.