Apple's back-to-school promo packs less punch than years past

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Apple on Tuesday officially kicked off its 2010 back-to-school promotion, an annual sale where students and school faculty can buy a Mac with education pricing and get a free 8GB iPod touch, a device that now costs $199.

Shoppers can save $50 on a low-end MacBook, up to $200 on a MacBook Pro, $100 on a MacBook Air, and up to $100 on an iMac desktop when purchased with an education discount through the Apple Store. Each new Mac comes with a free 8GB iPod touch, a $199 value — less than the hardware has cost during previous promotions. The $949 education price for the low-end MacBook is also higher than in years past.

The deal applies to new Macs bought with education pricing between May 25 and Sept. 7, 2010. Users will receive an online rebate for up to $199 in compensation for the second-generation 8GB iPod touch. Customers must submit their claim online within 90 days from when the order ships to be issued a rebate for the iPod touch.

Alternatively, customers can also receive $199 off a higher-capacity iPod touch or the 160GB iPod classic, $179 off a 16GB iPod nano, $149 off the 8GB iPod nano, a $99 discount for the stainless steel 4GB iPod shuffle, and $79 off the regular 4GB iPod shuffle.

Shoppers can buy through an Apple online store for education, retail store, authorized campus store, or call 1-800-MY-APPLE. Education discounts are available to faculty and staff of K-12 schools, as well as college students, professors, faculty and staff.

"Take a free 8GB iPod touch to school," Apple's promotional page reads. "Along with tons of other great features, iPod touch has built-in Wi-Fi for downloading thousands of games, movies, songs, apps, and amazing, free educational content from iTunes U."

Apple kicked off its back to school promo in late May in 2009, giving away an 8GB iPod touch that then cost $229. In 2008, the sale began in early June, when the 8GB iPod touch cost $299. As is the case this year, customers could also receive a rebate toward the purchase of other iPod models as well.

All shoppers — students, faculty and otherwise — can also save money on Macs through AppleInsider's Mac Pricing Guide, updated daily and included below: