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Apple kicks off back-to-school promo: Buy a Mac, get a $100 App Store gift card

As expected, Apple on Thursday began its annual back-to-school sale, offering students a $100 Mac App Store gift card along with the purchase of a qualifying Mac.

Students not only get the $100 gift card for software on the Mac App Store, they also receive education pricing on their Mac. The sale runs from June 16, 2011, through Sept. 20, 2011

Apple has set up a special section of its online store to advertise the promotion. College students or students accepted to college, parents buying for those students, or faculty or staff members at any grade level are all qualified for the sale.

To obtain the $100 gift card, users shop for a Mac at the online education store, an Apple retail store, an authorized campus store, or through 1-800-MY-Apple. The Back to School Card will be included with orders at retail online, while at a campus store, customers will submit their claim online and get a code via e-mail.

While the $100 gift card is advertised for the Mac App Store, the code can also be redeemed in the iOS App Store, the iTunes Store, and the iBookstore.

The promotion applies to the entry-level MacBook, which sells for $899 with a student discount, the MacBook Pro, which starts at $1,099 for students, the MacBook Air, starting at $949 with discount, and the iMac, starting at $1,149 for students.

Apple's site for the promotion is designed to push the Mac App Store, the new digital download destination for obtaining Mac software. The Mac App Store will also be the only place current Mac users will be able to upgrade to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, Apple's forthcoming operating system update.

"With the Mac App Store right on your Mac, you can find apps for studying, doing assignments, and getting organized," Apple's site reads. "And, of course, for playing games. The best part? You can download them to your Mac and start using them right away."

Highlighted on the page are three "featured Mac apps" available on the Mac App Store, pertaining to both work and play. They are note taking and syncing application Evernote, Apple's word processing software Pages, and the game Bejeweled. Other applications are listed in the Back to School App Gallery, provided in categories related to "Studies" and "Study Breaks."

Details of the back-to-school sale leaked on Thursday with promotional materials that were distributed to Apple's retail stores in anticipation of the annual event. This year's promotion may pack less punch for some, as in years past the company offered an entry-level iPod touch, worth much more than a $100 gift card.

For non-students, or for any who may be seeking an even greater value proposition on a new Mac, AppleInsider's Mac Price Guide makes it easy for readers to find the lowest price possible. Prices for new MacBook Pro models are included below, while other Macs can be seen in the full guide.