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Sprint and Best Buy offering students 12 months of free service with new smartphone purchases

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Sprint store (STOCK)
Sprint store (STOCK)

Sprint is making a big play for college students. The carrier is partnering with Best Buy to offer 12 months of free cellular service to students that purchase a new smartphone from the retailer. The Unlimited, My Way student promotion includes unlimited voice minutes, unlimited texting, and 1GB of data. (Basic feature phones are also eligible, though it's not nearly as good of a deal.) To qualify for the promotion, students must purchase a phone at full retail cost from Best Buy and verify their enrollment at college, high school, or even middle school within 14 days. If that 1GB of data proves too small for your needs, you can bump it up to unlimited for $10 each month.

Sprint says the deal saves students up to $70 monthly, and it's certainly worth looking into if you're trying to cut back on costs. Referring a friend to the program can net you another 12 months of free service to share, but both lines will need to be on the same account. And don't expect to get around the activation fee for your new smartphone, either; Sprint charges $36 for each device activation. All smartphones in Sprint's lineup qualify for the promotion, which runs through the end of this year.

Update: Students are not required to sign a wireless contract as part of the deal, but must pay full retail for their chosen smartphone.