Best VPNs for school and college students
It’s common practice for network administrators in schools or colleges to block access to sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat as well as streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO. Torrenting on college wifi networks is usually only a thing students can dream about.

The underlying reason for this is a desire to make sure pupils remain focused on education. There are also considerations along bandwidth use – if everyone’s downloading or streaming video then the network will get throttled fairly quickly.

But such apps remain essential to our lives – Facebook is important for staying in touch with those around us and college students can find PDF versions of their textbooks via torrents. While we don’t condone unauthorized use of copyrighted material, it’s important for students to harness the full power of the internet. Restrictions in access defeat the purpose of a project whose main ambition was to break down barriers to information and bring the world closer together.

The easiest way to circumvent restrictions placed by your school is to use a VPN. Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN is robust software that shields your current location and makes it seem like you’re accessing the web from somewhere else. It does so by encrypting the internet traffic flowing to and from your device and routing it via an intermediary server in a location of your choice.

If you haven’t the time to read all the details here at length, here is a roundup of our top VPN picks for school and colleges.

Best VPNs for School Wifi:

  1. ExpessVPN Our top VPN for school Wifi! Solid privacy features and keeps no usage logs on your activities. Fast servers that are able to circumvent most network or geo-blocked content. Includes 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. NordVPN Best budget option. Has one of the largest server networks. Unblocks most popular geo-restricted streaming sites. Keeps no logs.
  3. Surfshark Relatively speedy service that puts security above all else. Has excellent unblocking ability, a no-logs policy, and no connection limit at all.
  4. CyberGhost Easy to set up and use makes this low-cost provider good for beginners. Impressive network speeds are good for streaming.
  5. IPVanish Prefered by Kodi and Fire TV Stick users for remote control friendly app. Good speeds and strong security.
  6. Private Internet Access Strong commitment to no logs policy. Good at circumventing browsing and geo-restrictions. Speeds can be inconsistent.
  7. VyprVPN Secure choice with plenty of encryption and privacy features. Good speeds but not the cheapest choice on this list.

How to use a VPN on School Wifi

Even if you’ve never used a VPN before they’re very simple to set up. Follow our instructions below and you’ll be able to access your favorite websites from school or college in no time.

Here’s how to use a VPN for school wifi:

  1. Choose and subscribe to a suitable VPN provider from the list above. We particularly recommend ExpressVPN.
  2. You’ll need to download the appropriate VPN app. You’ll need to do this at home as it’s unlikely any of the VPN websites will be unblocked in school.
  3. Open the VPN app and choose a server within your country.
  4. Hit connect and you should now be able to unblock websites on the school wifi!
  5. If you’re encountering any issues try clearing your cache and cookies. If this doesn’t work it might be worth getting in touch with your VPN’s customer support team.

Best VPNs for college or school

Our list of the best VPNs for schools and colleges to unlock websites is based on these factors:

  • No usage logs
  • Optimized for speed and stability
  • Strong encryption parameters
  • Ability to unlock geo-locked content
  • Price

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Sep 2020

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ExpressVPN is the first on our list because of its neat, user-friendly design and impeccable speeds. It permits torrenting on all servers and is also a great choice to unblock content on Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.

With over 3,000 servers spread across 94 countries, you shouldn’t have a problem finding an adequate connection. There’s also an internet kill switch included – which ExpressVPN refers to as a ‘network lock’ – that’ll temporarily halt web traffic if the connection drops. That means your data will remain safe and secure.

ExpressVPN uses the OpenVPN encryption parameter with 256-bit AES-CBC as default. HMAC authentication and perfect forward secrecy are both included.

There are no traffic logs of any kind but the service does retain some metadata to cater to troubleshooting requests. Specifically, these are “dates (not times) when connected to our service, choice of server location, and the total amount of data transferred per day.”

The company accepts Bitcoin as payment. A single subscription grants access to three devices at one time.

There are apps for Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.

Pros:

  • Large global network of super fast servers can unblock just about any restricted content
  • High-grade privacy and security
  • No identifiable personal data is logged
  • A wide range of apps available – Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Linux, and certain Wi-Fi routers
  • Live chat available 24/7

Cons:

  • Advanced configuration for power-users is a little limited

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST VPN SCHOOL & COLLEGE:ExpressVPN is our #1 Choice. It has a vast server network that is optimized for high-speed connections. User-friendly apps for all operating systems. Hard to beat on privacy and security. There is a 30-day no-quibbles money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free.

Read our full review of ExpressVPN.

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2. NordVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

NordVPN continues the tradition of refusing to store any customer data. There are no traffic or session logs at all putting it in a similar vein to IPVanish and ExpressVPN.

All web traffic is encrypted via 256-bit AES and 2,048-bit DH keys. Torrenting is permitted on each and every server. A single subscription grants access to six devices.

And with over 5,000 servers present in 60 countries there’s a wide range of possible locations to choose from. Furthermore, they’re optimized for anti-DDoS, video streaming, double VPN, Tor over VPN, and dedicated IP – guaranteeing fast speeds, strong encryption, and robust privacy.

There are apps for both Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.

It’s able to overcome the Netflix VPN ban as well as unlocking content from Hulu and BBC iPlayer.

Pros:

  • Vast server network is very capable at unblocking most blocked and restricted content
  • Good speeds for streaming and downloading
  • Strong encryption and no logs make for top security and privacy
  • Zero-logs policy
  • Offers 24/7 live chat

Cons:

  • Can only choose to connect to a location, not a server

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST BUDGET VPN:NordVPN is great value. A strong performer in all categories, has strong security features and allows up to 6 devices to be used simultaneously from one account. Includes a 30-day money back guarantee.

Read our full review of NordVPN.

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3. Surfshark

SurfShark VPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Surfshark has 1,700+ servers in more than 60+ countries and can easily bypass all but the strictest online blocking. This makes it an excellent choice for anyone looking to unblock and services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or BBC iPlayer during their breaks at college. Better still, Surfshark lets you connect as many devices as you like. This is especially generous given that many other VPNs have a six-connection limit at most.

This service goes the extra mile where security is concerned. It uses effectively uncrackable 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, protection against IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leaks, and automatic malware-scanning to keep you safe at all times. Surfshark doesn’t log any data that could be traced back to you and provides the option to pay in one of three cryptocurrencies. If you run into problems, customer support is available around the clock via live chat.

Surfshark offers easy-to-use apps for iOS, MacOS, Android, Linux, and Windows. It can be manually configured for use with select wireless routers too.

Pros:

  • Good speeds and even better unblocking ability
  • Allows an unlimited number of connections
  • Strong security and privacy credentials
  • Accepts a variety of cryptocurrencies

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have the largest network

Our score:

4 out of 5

PROTECT ALL OF YOUR DEVICES:Surfshark has no connection limit, meaning you can secure all of your devices at once. It also boasts an array of advanced security features, a no-logs policy, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of Surfshark here.

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4. CyberGhost

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Cyberghost.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

CyberGhost – which is registered in Romania – insists it respects user privacy and doesn’t store any data, but the jury’s still out on that one. The reason for that is its recent acquisition by an Israeli firm that’s headquartered in the UK.

Other than that slight concern, there’s absolutely no issue with its choice of encryption standards. There’s 256-bit AES encryption on the OpenVPN protocol which is considered fairly stringent. And with approximately 5,700 servers in 90 countries, it’s done a reasonable job of offering a variety of locations.

You can connect seven devices on a single connection. The provider supports Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS and Linux.

Pros:

  • Happily unblocks a host of blocked and restricted content
  • Good value provider with fast servers that are great for streaming and downloading
  • Keeps no user activity logs and provides strong encryption to bypass activity detection
  • Easy to use, select activity type and be connected to the most appropriate server

Cons:

  • Doesn’t work in China

Our score:

4 out of 5

easy-to-use apps:CyberGhost is beginner friendly. Great privacy with zero logs and DNS leak protection. Unblocks popular streaming platforms. 45-day money back guarantee.

Read our full review of CyberGhost.

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5. IPVanish

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.IPVanish.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

IPVanish ticks all the boxes when it comes to a fast, cheap, and easy-to-use VPN that won’t compromise on your privacy or security. There’s absolutely zero retention of any web traffic logs or data. The company only retains a sliver of information when your account is registered for the very first time. Nothing after that.

Encryption standards are equally vigorous. It uses 256-bit encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default, SHA512 authentication, and a DHE-RSA 2,048-bit key exchange with perfect forward secrecy.

Like ExpressVPN, IPVanish has your back if the connection freezes. An internet kill switch will ensure there’s no leakage of data. A single subscription offers access to five devices so it’s ideal for a group purchase.

Torrenting is permitted on all servers which are excellent for high speeds and video streaming. There’s over 1,300 of them spread across 75 countries.

IPVanish doesn’t unlock geo-restricted content on Netflix or Hulu, but is a worthy choice in the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer. There are apps for both iOS and Android as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.

IPVanish is an excellent option for Kodi because it allows users to download the Android APK directly to their device. The interface is also remote control friendly for Kodi devices that lack a keyboard and mouse.

There are apps for Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.

Pros:

  • Operates in over 60 countries, great for unblocking restricted content
  • Impressive 4K streaming speeds achieved during testing
  • Strong encryption makes apps secure
  • No-logs policy

Cons:

  • No live customer support

Our score:

4 out of 5

FAST AND RELIABLE:IPVanish has a large network of servers. Uncongested network achieves good speeds. Strong security and privacy features. 7-day money back guarantee.

Read our full review of IPVanish.

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6. Private Internet Access

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • FireTV

Website:  www.PrivateInternetAccess.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Private Internet Access (PIA) might not have the neatest user interface out there but it does its core job well.

It’s another VPN provider that outlaws customer data retention – meaning there’s no logs of any kind. Encryption standards are impressive – there’s an option of using the OpenVPN protocol with 256-bit AES encryption, SHA256 authentication, and 4,096-bit RSA keys.

Unfortunately, PIA doesn’t work with Netflix but does permit torrenting on its servers. With a whopping 3,307 of them spread across 32 countries, the service has done its legwork in terms of securing an excellent user experience. You can connect up to five devices simultaneously with one account.

There are apps for both Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.

Pros:

  • Budget provider that can unblock a good range of streaming content
  • Apps for both Android and iOS devices
  • Operates over 3,300 servers globally
  • Keep no logs, DNS leak protection and kill switch are activated

Cons:

  • Be prepared for troubleshooting in community forums
  • Streaming speeds can be inconsistent

Our score:

4.0 out of 5

LOW PRICE:Private Internet Access has top security. PIA is a great choice for students due to its low price, rich security features, and great customer service. Speeds can be inconsistent for video streaming, torrenting and downloading. 7-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of Private Internet Access.

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7. VyprVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.VyprVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

VyprVPN admits that it isn’t a completely logless VPN provider, stating that it stores “the user’s source IP address, the VyprVPN IP address used by the user, connection start and stop time, and total number of bytes used.”

However, all information is only stored for a period of 30 days. The company insists there’s no actual way of determining the exact details of web traffic.

VyprVPN is a popular choice in China because it’s able to sidestep the Great Firewall.

The company manages entire data centers – as opposed to other services which may use a hybrid combination of owning and renting servers. This means it’s able to optimize speed and stability of connection. All traffic is secured by the OpenVPN protocol, 256-bit AES encryption, 2,048-bit RSA keys without perfect forward secrecy, and SHA256 authentication.

VyprVPN includes an internet kill switch by default which means internet traffic will be halted temporarily if the connection drops.

There are over 700 server locations across the globe. Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.

VyprVPN can unlock content on Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. It also supports torrents – although some users have complained in the past of their accounts being suspended due to said activity.

If you’d like to connect on multiple devices (up to a maximum of three) you’ll have to upgrade to the premium version. Otherwise, the basic version just supports one connection at a time.

There are apps for both Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.

Pros:

  • Unblocks most popular restricted sites
  • Servers provide reliable connections and decent speeds
  • Keeps no user logs

Cons:

  • Slightly more expensive than some VPNs
  • Power users would prefer more configuration options
  • No cryptocurrency payment method

Our score:

4 out of 5

UNLIMITED DATA USAGE:VyprVPN is user friendly. Speeds were surprisingly good for the cheaper end of the market. Could do with having more servers and lacks 24/7 support. 30-day money back guarantee.

Read our full review of VyprVPN.

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Free or paid VPNs?

We don’t promote the use of free VPNs simply because such services don’t offer the same standards of service that paid versions offer and are also a lingering threat when it comes to malware and violation of privacy standards.

Free VPN providers aren’t registered charities – they have to pay for overheads, staff salaries, and server maintenance costs. There’s a strong likelihood that they’ll monetize by inserting tracking cookies to keep a watchful eye on your browsing history and selling the data to third-party advertisers.

Be prepared for tons of invasive advertisements and the possibility of malware infection as your data is sold to the highest bidder.

However, if you still insist on a free VPN we recommend you read through our list of the ones you can trust.

Should I use a VPN on a college network?

College networks are crammed full of people and their devices and hence represent a security risk. Astute network administrators might put in place anti-virus systems but the best chance of staying secure is to use a VPN. You never know who’s lurking around and sharing a network with people you don’t know isn’t always the best idea.

At the same time, we don’t promote illegal activity but some college administrators don’t understand the fact that it’s essential for students to share information with each other as well as access it regardless of where it’s stored.

It’s generally not a good idea to download terabytes of data via torrents on your school server, but if you’re able to access a nifty research paper then there’s nothing really wrong with that.

A bunch of very useful data for academic research is also hidden away in the Deep Web. Our academic research on the deep web guide will help you access it.

Colleges in the US are also legally bound to comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which deals with intellectual property rights as well as notices concerning torrents. So if you try to access such content without a VPN you might fall into trouble.

Having said that it’s a good idea to be mindful of what you’re getting yourself into – don’t violate end-user agreements or specific policies put in place by your college, especially if there are stiff penalties involved.