Supporting the mobile computing devices could prove challenging for schools, and it would certainly cost them money. But Project RED says schools could save enough money on printing costs to offset at least some of the expense of maintaining a 1-to-1 program.

“The average large high school spends $100,000 on copy machine expenses [annually],” said Tom Greaves, chairman of the Greaves Group and the study’s other co-author.

That figure was reported by several school finance officers, Greaves explained, but it did not come from a statistically valid survey or a detailed examination of several school budgets. Still, if the number is accurate, it means schools could save about $40 per student, per year, if they cut their copying budgets in half by distributing materials electronically to students and staff.

Project RED is sponsored by Intel, Apple, and other companies that stand to profit by a federal investment in computers for every student. Because of this, it would be easy to dismiss the group’s research as biased. Yet, federal officials might want to see if they can replicate the study’s findings, especially if they’re as committed to lowering the dropout rate as they say.

If the potential payoff is as high as Project RED believes it would be, it’s worth at least considering whether 1-to-1 programs might be a wise federal investment after all.