You’re settled into your dorm room, textbooks strewn about, ready to dive into some research or unwind with Netflix after a hectic day. But guess what? The campus Wi-Fi treats your favorite websites like contraband. Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, and even essential torrenting portals are off-limits. You’re not alone; millions of students and faculty members face these digital walls daily. What if we told you there’s a solution to unlock the internet’s full power right from campus?
Introducing the VPN – your Virtual Private Network is a groundbreaking tool for bypassing restrictive network policies and maintaining an anonymous and secure online presence. Through meticulous research and rigorous testing, we’ve sifted through the noise to present you with the most reliable VPN services to make your online life unrestricted and secure. We’re talking about sophisticated software that encrypts your internet traffic, rerouting it through your chosen secure server.
In this definitive guide, you’ll discover the best VPNs for school or college designed to serve your specific needs. We also provide below a concise roundup for those always on the go if you don’t have the luxury of time:
Best VPNs for bypassing school and college Wifi restrictions:
- NordVPN Our top VPN for college and school Wifi! Has one of the largest server networks. Unblocks most popular geo-restricted streaming sites. Keeps no logs and includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark Best budget option for college and school students. Relatively speedy service that puts security above all else. Has excellent unblocking ability, a no-logs policy, and no connection limit.
- ExpessVPN Solid privacy features and keeps no usage logs on your activities. Fast servers that are able to circumvent most college network-blocked or geo-blocked content.
- CyberGhost Easy to set up and use, this provider is good for beginners. Impressive network speeds are good for streaming.
- IPVanish Preferred by Kodi and Fire TV Stick users for remote control-friendly app. Good speeds and strong security are ideal for browsing safely at school or college.
- Private Internet Access Strong commitment to no logs policy. Good at circumventing browsing restrictions on school, college or work networks.
- PrivateVPN Secure choice with plenty of encryption and privacy features. Good speeds and great unblocking ability.
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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 researched 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 on college or school wifi:
- Choose and subscribe to a suitable VPN provider from the list. We particularly recommend NordVPN.
- 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 your school.
- Open the VPN app and choose a server within your country.
- Hit connect, and you should now be able to unblock websites on the school wifi!
- If you’re encountering any issues, try clearing your cache and cookies and reload the page. If this doesn’t work, try a different server or get in touch with your VPN’s customer support team.
The best VPNs for students – Our hands-on review
We’ve tested and compared the most important features of the top VPNs here. Prefer to read the in-depth reviews? Start with NordVPN – our #1 choice for college or school.
|No value||NordVPN||Surfshark||ExpressVPN||CyberGhost||IPVanish||Private Internet Access|
|Website||NordVPN.com||Surfshark.com||ExpressVPN.com||Cyberghost.com||IPVanish.com||PrivateInternetAccess.com||Ranking for school and college students||1||2||3||4||5||6||Streaming Services||Netflix|
|Netflix||Avg Speed (Mbps)||100+ Mbps||100+ Mbps||100+ Mbps||100+ Mbps||100+ Mbps||117 Mbps||Popular Sites Unblocked||95%||88%||86%||85%||70%||70%||Total number of servers||5,700+||3,200||Undisclosed||9,300||2,200+||Undisclosed||Simultaneous Connections||6||Unlimited||5||7||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Best deal (per month)||$3.19|
SAVE 61% + 3 month FREE
Get 2 Months FREE with a 2-year plan
SAVE: 49% on the annual plan
SAVE 82% on the 2 year plan + 2 months FREE
SAVE 72% on the 2 year plan
SAVE 82% on the 2 yr plan + 3 months free
Best VPNs for college or school
Our list of the best VPNs for schools and colleges to unlock websites is based on these researched factors:
- Keeps no usage logs
- Optimized for speed and stability
- Strong encryption parameters
- Ability to unblock geo-locked content
- Fairly price
This is just an overview, but we will cover our VPN testing methodology further in this article.
For now, and based on real-world testing, here are the 7 best VPNs for school and college:
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN is our top choice for a school wifi VPN. It’s one of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested and refuses to store any customer data. There are no traffic or session logs at all. All web traffic is encrypted via 256-bit AES and 2,048-bit DH keys. Torrenting is permitted on each and every server, and a single subscription grants access to six devices.
And with over 5,500 servers present in 60 countries, there’s a wide range of possible locations to choose from. Additionally, some of these can encrypt your data twice, let you access the dark web, or grant you a dedicated IP address.
There are apps for both Android and iOS mobile devices as well as desktop support for Linux, Windows, and macOS. It works with Netflix as well as other streaming services like Hulu and BBC iPlayer.
- Vast server network
- Very capable of accessing most blocked and restricted content
- Exceptional speeds for streaming and downloading
- Strong encryption and no logs make for top security and privacy
- Zero-logs policy
- Offers 24/7 live chat
- Can only choose to connect to a location, not a server
BEST VPN FOR SCHOOL & COLLEGE:NordVPN is our top choice. It has blazing speeds and is a strong performer in all categories. Strong security features and allows up to 6 devices to be used simultaneously from one account. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee for a risk-free deal.
Read our full review of NordVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark is a wallet-friendly VPN that has 3,200+ servers in more than 100 countries and can easily bypass all but the strictest online blocks. This makes it an excellent choice for anyone looking to watch 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.
- Servers in around 100 countries
- Good speeds and even better unblocking ability
- Allows an unlimited number of connections
- Strong security and privacy credentials
- Accepts a variety of cryptocurrencies
- Some features require Surfshark One, an optional paid addon
BEST BUDGET VPN: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.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN has a neat, user-friendly design and solid speeds. It permits torrenting on all servers and is also a great choice for accessing 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, and there are apps for Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Linux, Windows, and macOS.
- A 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
- 24/7 live customer support
- Advanced configuration for power users is a little limited
- Slightly more expensive than other providers on this list
VERSATILE UNBLOCKER:ExpressVPN has a vast server network that’s optimized for high-speed connections. User-friendly apps for all operating systems. Great on privacy and security. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost 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 encryption on the WireGuard protocol, which is considered fairly stringent. And with approximately 9,000 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.
- Vast network of over 9,000 servers
- 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
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- Doesn’t work in China
- Better suited to beginners than power users
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.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
IPVanish ticks all the boxes when it comes to a fast and easy-to-use VPN that won’t compromise 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 WireGuard protocol by default, SHA512 authentication, and a DHE-RSA 2,048-bit key exchange with perfect forward secrecy. IPVanish also has your back if the connection freezes. An internet kill switch will ensure there’s no leakage of data. A single subscription lets you secure an unlimited number of devices, so it’s great for anyone hoping to share their VPN with family.
Torrenting is permitted on all servers, which are excellent for high speeds and video streaming. There are over 2,000 of them spread across 75 locations. Streaming capabilities have drastically improved of late, though IPVanish still struggles with the occasional service.
IPVanish There are apps for both iOS and Android, as well as desktop support for Windows and macOS.
- 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
- Better options out there for streaming
- Based in the US
FAST AND RELIABLE:IPVanish has a large network of servers. Uncongested network achieves good speeds. Strong security and privacy features. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of IPVanish.
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 are 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 over 10,000 of them spread across 80+ countries, the service has done its legwork in terms of securing an excellent user experience. You can connect 10 devices simultaneously with one account.
There are apps for both Android and iOS, as well as desktop support for Windows and macOS.
- A budget provider that can unblock a good range of streaming content
- Operates over 10,000 servers globally
- Keep no logs, DNS leak protection and kill switch are activated
- Be prepared for troubleshooting in community forums
- Streaming speeds can be inconsistent
CONNECT 10-DEVICES: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. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of Private Internet Access.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
PrivateVPN has become a popular choice among school and college students because it can easily unblock websites and bypass network restrictions. With its robust security features and reliable performance, PrivateVPN enables students to access various online resources and streaming platforms without limitations.
With over 200 server locations across 63 countries, PrivateVPN offers students a wide range of server choices, ensuring fast and stable connections. In addition, this extensive server network enables students to access popular streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. PrivateVPN also supports torrenting, providing an added benefit for students seeking to download large files or access P2P networks.
Security is a top priority for PrivateVPN, which employs strong 256-bit AES encryption, support for multiple VPN protocols such as OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec, and a strict no-logs policy. These security measures ensure that students can browse the internet confidently, knowing that their online activities and personal data are protected.
PrivateVPN’s user-friendly interface and compatibility with various devices and platforms, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, make it an excellent choice for students who need a VPN that is easy to set up and use. Additionally, PrivateVPN allows up to 10 simultaneous connections, ensuring that students can protect multiple devices with a single subscription.
- Works with a wide range of streaming services
- Zero-logs provider
- Use up to six devices simultaneously
- Fewer servers to choose from than other providers higher on this list
- Live chat is not around the clock
SOLID PRIVACY:PrivateVPN is epic at unblocking censored websites, it includes a 10-device connection limit and uses military-grade encryption. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full PrivateVPN review.
There are hundreds of VPNs on the market, both free and paid. However, only some can be trusted to unblock websites and services and keep you safe online. With this in mind, here is our methodology, which helped us find the best VPNs for school and college students:
- Unblocking: Not all VPNs are able to bypass restrictions, be they due to geo-blocking or censorship. However, the best VPNs for school and college students have thousands of IP addresses, while some are even able to disguise VPN traffic as regular web traffic. As a result, they can more consistently navigate blocks.
- Servers worldwide: Some content is region-locked and only available in certain countries. This means you’ll need access to servers in countries worldwide if you want to be able to unblock websites. Most of the VPNs we’re recommending in this post have thousands of servers across dozens of countries.
- Speed: Need to stream or download while at school or college? This requires a high-speed connection! Without it, streams will be low resolution, and with lag while downloads would take far too long. Not only have we found the fastest VPNs, but we’ve also ensured all of them have unlimited bandwidth.
- Security: Your studies likely keep you busy enough without having to worry about phishing attempts, viruses, and the like. By using a VPN, you can ensure your data is encrypted and secured from such security threats. It’s essential that a VPN also has DNS leak protection and a kill switch.
- Privacy: If you don’t want others to know what you’re doing online, having your data encrypted by a VPN is a great place to start. Unfortunately, some less reputable VPNs log browsing data and sell it to third parties. To browse anonymously, you’ll need a VPN with a strict no-logs policy. We’ve analyzed over 140 VPN logging policies to find which provides the best protection.
- Ease of use: There’s no reason for a VPN to make things complicated. These days, the best VPNs offer user-friendly apps for connecting to a server in seconds. Indeed, you should also have access to 24/7 live chat and email support, as well as further support such as setup guides.
- Value for money: A student’s budget can, understandably, be limited. That’s why it’s so important that a VPN provides affordable long-term and short-term subscription options as well as a generous money-back guarantee of at least 30 days. Keep in mind also that you can take advantage of our VPN discount coupons and save a little extra.
Our VPN testing methodology ensures we find the very best VPNs to fit your needs. We’re constantly running tests on VPN services to ensure the information we’re providing is accurate as well as current.
Can I use a free VPN?
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.
Using a VPN at school or college: FAQs
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.
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. Also, it’s worth noting that illegal activity is still illegal even if you’re using a VPN.
While we aim to provide the best advice, nothing in this article should be considered legal advice, and it’s always best to check the local laws of your country if you are unsure.
Why do schools block websites and services?
There are multiple reasons why a school or college may block certain websites or services. One common reason is that the content may be deemed inappropriate or simply a distraction to the education of students. Another is that activity on streaming and torrenting sites can use up a lot of bandwidth which results in network throttling. Fortunately, you can bypass blocks with the help of a VPN.
What if I can't download a VPN at school?
It is possible that your school’s network administrator may have blocked access to online resources that provide information about VPNs – as well as VPN provider websites. Schools do this to prevent students from downloading a VPN onto their devices to bypass the network restrictions.
Under these circumstances, you will need to have a fully functional VPN already installed on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop before you arrive on campus. For this reason, we recommend you purchase your VPN subscription at home (or on some other public network if you live in halls of residence).
With the VPN installed and set up correctly, you will easily be able to connect to a VPN server while on campus. This will give you complete privacy and provide access to any websites or online services that the school’s network administrator has blocked.
Will my school be able to tell I'm using a VPN?
This is a more complex question than you might think. If your VPN uses a standard protocol like OpenVPN or L2TP with no additional obfuscation, then yes — your school’s network administrators will be able to see that you’re using a VPN, but not which sites you accessed.
Some providers, like NordVPN, offer additional privacy measures (such as stealth modes, obfuscated servers, or custom protocols) designed for bypassing censorship in countries like China. Considering governments with millions of dollars at their disposal can’t reliably detect this VPN, it’s highly unlikely a school admin would be able to.