This product image provided by Apple Inc., shows the Apple iPad. (AP Photo/Apple Inc.) NO SALES THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Sometimes financial aid to the University of Arizona comes with an Apple logo.

More than 1,300 UA students received an iPod, iPad or laptop as part of their aid package this year.

The two-year-old Mac Scholar program cost about $1.2 million this year. Apple gives the UA a discount on its products and the UA pays for the gadgets with student tuition and fee revenue.

The UA is saving money by spending less on these giveaways than on cash to reward good high school grades.

It's part of the UA's effort to "try to spread scholarship money around more in ways that are meaningful to students," UA vice president Melissa Vito said.

"It's also trying to get a tool in the students' hands that they'll be able to use," she said.

A $1,500 renewable scholarship may not be as meaningful as a laptop, she said. And she sees iPads as the textbooks of the future.

Vicky Mullins, coordinator at the Regional College Access Center, said sometimes a laptop is all it takes to get a student interested in going to college.

It's a very cost-effective way to recruit students, said UA financial aid director John Nametz.

Some packages have both a gadget and money.

The financial aid package offered to Bria Hunter, a high school senior in Vallejo, Calif., included an iPad and a scholarship that would cover her tuition.

"The offer gave me the impression that the school is good with making it affordable for qualified students to attend, and that technology is pretty important at the University of Arizona," Hunter said in an e-mail.

She said she hadn't thought about applying to the UA until she received a scholarship offer. Financial aid packages will be a big part of how she chooses a college, she said, because she wants to avoid borrowing money.

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at bpallack@azstarnet.com or 807-8012.