Three Massachusetts state colleges are requiring new students to own laptop computers this fall under an initiative that will spread to other state schools in coming years.

The requirement applies to first-year students this fall at Bridgewater, Framingham, and Worcester state colleges. The rule will be extended next fall to Salem State College and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and then in 2006 to Westfield State and Fitchburg State.

The colleges have a deal with Dell Inc. to offer packages including laptops, software, and warranties to students for discounted prices...

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