Adobe, Education, and You

Disclaimer: Panachroma is an Adobe partner in the United States of America, and the following information applies only to US customers. Adobe policy varies by territory, with most territories forbidding both upgrading and commercial use of education versions. For customers outside of the US, please consult your local Adobe office for upgrade and usage restrictions. Whew!

The new school year is nearly upon us, and with every semester comes a bevy of questions related to students’ education versions of Photoshop. We’re here to let y’all in on some well-kept secrets that should save you some time and money and generally make your life more pleasant.

So sally forth and tally ho, off to spread the facts we go!

Myth: Education versions of Photoshop cannot be used for commercial purposes

On the contrary, Adobe both allows and encourages students to use their education version of Photoshop to do paying work. After all, what’s the point of getting you hooked on Photoshop if you’re just going to say “Screw this, they want want me to buy it twice!” and find something else? (Former competitor Macromedia had this policy, and you’ll note they no longer exist.)

Myth: Education versions of Photoshop cannot be used after you graduate

You buy it, it’s yours. As long as you qualified for the purchase when you purchased Photoshop, you can continue to use it for years to come.

Myth: Education versions of Photoshop cannot be upgraded

An academic version of Photoshop is simply a version that was sold at reduced cost to a qualifying education user. They qualify for support and upgrades just the same as their full-price brethren.

There is an important caveat here for users for CS3 and later: You must upgrade within the same product edition. As of CS3, education versions are Photoshop Extended, and must be upgraded using a Photoshop Extended upgrade. You cannot “opt out” of the Extended features and use a Standard upgrade. This does ratchet your upgrade costs up, but you still come out ahead in the end, and we find most users only upgrade every 2–3 versions.

The Times They Are A-Changin’
Cribbing from Bob Dylan, the times they are a-changin’ in education versions. As of this year, Adobe is transitioning away from the old Academic editions to new Student editions for students.

The information posted above is still valid for Student versions, but there are a few notable changes coming with the switchover.

First, student editions are restricted to a single computer. Previous versions of Photoshop allowed two concurrent activations—a desktop and a notebook (or, really, any two computers). And those of you who are really old probably remember when Adobe would permit you to install on even more computers as long as only one was used at a time. No más.

Second, Adobe has found themselves a little dutch boy to stick his finger in the dike of academic version fraud. It used to be the case that you simply had to be an authorized education customer to buy an academic version; this led to enterprising students buying up academic copies and selling them to the public (not quite legally) on eBay for profit. Adobe has stated you will now need proof of academic status to get your serial number and activation key—the box will provide only an installer and a redemption form for the serial number.

Third (and drawing from the other two), you can now only buy a single copy of each Student Edition product. Adobe will not be issuing serial numbers for additional copies, further reinforcing #2 and further making #1 a pain in the butt. (The restriction in #1 becomes a non-issue when you upgrade, but may affect your initial use.)

Fourth, K-12 students now qualify for Student Editions. Rejoice, puberty and college are no longer roadblocks to your affording Adobe products!

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