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Best to Worst: 6 Video Editing & Motion Design Software Discounts for Students

Caleb Ward

Take advantage of discounted video editing software if you’re enrolled as a student.

While the verdict is still up in the air as to whether or not film school is a good choice, one thing is for sure, there are a lot of perks associated with being a student. For one, many software manufacturers give deep discounts to currently enrolled students.

In the following post we will take a look at all of the major editing and motion graphic applications and examine what discounts, if any, are available to film students.

‘Student’ Status

Almost all the editing applications on this list require you to verify your current enrollment at a school. This can include a student ID, transcript, report card, or letter from the registrar. The entire process usually takes a very short amount of time. Some applications allow you to download then verify, but be prepared to fill out some web-forms in order to get the software.

Note: while almost all these applications are available at a discounted rate to students, you may not be permitted to do outside work on the app that isn’t education related. Read the terms and conditions to know for sure.

We’ve structured the article to go from most student-friendly discount to least, so let’s get started:

1. Autodesk

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Autodesk has (by far) the best discount for film students…free. Unlike the other software companies on this list, Autodesk offers a free 3 year license to students. The free 3 year license extends down to most of their professional applications including:

  • Smoke – Video Editing
  • Maya – 3D Modeling
  • 3Ds Max – 3D modeling (Windows only)
  • Mudbox – Digital Sculpting
  • AutoCAD – Architectural Design
  • And many more

Using the free tools offered from Autodesk you’re got a full video editing, motion graphics, modeling and special effects pipeline. Word of warning for newbies: Autodesk applications tend to have a steeper learning curve then some of the others on this list.

All of the apps are available via instant download and verification is really quick. If you’re a student you can have Autodesk’s powerful app suite on your computer today.

2. Maxon

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Admittedly Cinema 4D almost didn’t make this list because of it’s rather strange licensing agreement for students. Unlike the other apps in this list, the only way to get a Cinema 4D student discount is to go through your school. That is, if you’re school has an educational agreement with Maxon. In this case, the you’d have access to the application for free.

If your college isn’t an approved Maxon institution you would have to pay full price. You can request to have Maxon reach out to your school to become an educational partner, but this can take some time.

3. Adobe

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A few years ago when Adobe announced the Creative Cloud some people were skeptical, including myself, but over time the Creative Cloud has proven to be a very practical way to pay for software. Creative Cloud users have the ability to access dozens of industry-standard applications including:

  • Premiere Pro – Video Editing
  • After Effects – Motion Graphics/Compositing
  • SpeedGrade – Color Correction/Grading
  • Media Encoder – Digital Encoding
  • Photoshop – Photo Editing/Digital Painting
  • Illustrator – Vector Artwork

Adobe’s Creative Cloud isn’t free for students, but it is available at $19.99 a month – a deep discount off the normal pricing. eitherfor the entire Creative Cloud. Get the Creative Cloud student and teacher discount on the Adobe site.


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While Pro Tools is the industry standard when it comes to audio software, Avid Media Composer hasthe pro video editing industry split between those that love it and those that loathe it.

Avid does offer an awesome student discount on it’s applications including:

  • Media Composer – Video Editing
  • Pro Tools – Audio Editing/Composing

The applications however don’t come bundled so you must get them separately. Media Composer is available for $9.99 a month to students with free upgrades along the way. Pro Tools ‘buy outright’ at $299.99.

5. Lightworks

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While you won’t find a ton of editors using Lightworks, the ones who do are often working on big-name productions. Lightworks’ slick interface and easy-to-use tools make it a very powerful and underrated editing applications.

Lightworks comes in two flavors, Lightworks Free and Lightworks Pro. For everybody, Lightworks Free is, you guessed it, free to use (note: output is limited to a maximum of 720P). Lightworks Pro is available at a 50% discount to students, making it $12.99 a month, $87.50 a year or $219 to buy outright.

6. Sony

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It is always surprising to hear how many professional editors got their start using Sony Vegas. Vegas and Sony Sound Forge. They’re both avaliable at a discounted rate for students.

Unlike most of the applications on this list, you can’t get a discounted student version of Sony Vegas or Sound Forge on Sony’s website. Instead you will have to purchase your copy from one of their licensed resellers (reseller search here). Because there is a third party involved prices can sometimes be inconsistent so we recommend shopping around. Our preliminary searches found Sony Vegas Pro 13 from $234.95 and Sound Forge for $179.95.

Non-Discounted Software

7. Resolve

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While widely respected as a color editing application, DaVinci Resolve 11 brought a new level of functionality by adding the ability to edit footage directly in the app. Over time we definitely expect this software to get better and better.

That being said, DaVinci Resolve is surprisingly not student friendly as there is no student discount available yet. Students are encouraged to download Resolve Lite which is completely free to all users.

8. Apple

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While the argument between Final Cut Pro lovers and Adobe lovers wages on, one thing is for sure, when it comes to student discounts Final Cut is in dead last. There are no students discounts available for Final Cut Pro X.

  • Final Cut Pro X – Video Editing
  • Apple Motion – Motion Graphics
  • Compressor – Video Compression

On the plus side, Final Cut Pro X is relatively affordable at $299. The non-discount also applies to Apple Motion and Compressor which can be purchased at full-price for $49.99 each. As a student you do qualify for discounted Apple computers, so if you’re thinking about purchasing a computer for school check out their online education store.

Know of any other discounts available to students? Share in the comments below.