It’s about time to gear up for back-to-school, and I thought it might be helpful to share with you some of the best pens for students in the $50 and under price range. Keeping in mind that value, reliability, and durability are some of the key factors for student pens, here are some that I will gladly recommend.

This is the first Fountain Pen 101 video I’ve made in about a year, so if you haven’t seen my others already, definitely check them out here.

Pilot Metropolitan, ~$15+

Pros:

  • Great value
  • Attractive
  • Durable
  • Very reliable writer
  • Good ink capacity

Cons:

  • Limited to black, gold, and silver, pretty conservative colors
  • Only available in medium nib (though it’s a Japanese medium, so it’s pretty fine)
  • Cartridges and converters are proprietary to the Pilot/Namiki brand

Lamy Safari/Vista/Nexx, ~$26+

Pros:

  • Workhorses, they just write
  • Lots of fun colors to choose from
  • Durable despite the worst of abuses
  • Many nibs to choose from, including stubs
  • Nibs are swappable, so you can buy one pen and a variety of nibs to vary things up
  • Ink window shows you when you need to refill ink
  • Triangular grip makes it easy to hold for beginners

Cons:

  • Converter doesn’t come with the pens, you have to buy separately
  • Grip is bothersome to some, especially with larger hands
  • Cartridges and converters are proprietary to Lamy

Platinum Preppy, ~$4

Pros:

  • Great value
  • Clear, easy to see ink level
  • Eyedropper convertible, able to hold huge volume of ink
  • Versatile, accepts cartridge, converter, or eyedropper
  • Not the end of the world if lost, broken, or stolen
  • Many different colors to choose from

Cons:

  • Doesn’t come with converter, costs about twice what the pen does
  • Plastic is somewhat brittle, and can fracture if handled too rough (dropped on concrete, crushed in backpack, etc)
  • Cartridges and converter are proprietary to Platinum (though can be used with adapter to accept standard international cartridges)

Pilot Varsity, ~$3

Pros:

  • Great value
  • Writes surprisingly well for the price
  • Durable
  • Refillable by hack, though marketed as disposable
  • Good ink capacity
  • Not the end of the world if lost, broken, or stolen

Cons:

  • Only one nib size
  • Come preloaded with ink, so limited color selection unless hacked and refilled

Noodler’s Flex Pens (Nib Creaper, Ahab, Konrad), $14-20

Pros:

  • Great value
  • HUGE color selection
  • Durable, can drop or crush and won’t crack
  • Flex nib, incredibly rare in this price range
  • Good ink capacity with piston mechanisms, no cartridges or converter needed
  • Nibs can be swapped with any #6 nib, such as the Goulet nibs for great variety
  • Easily disassembled for cleaning and maintenance

Cons:

  • Challenging to use for a newbie
  • Writes very wet, can be troublesome on cheap, absorbent paper
  • Can be finicky, requires patience on the part of the user 

Sheaffer VFM, ~$16.50

Pros:

  • Great value
  • Writes well
  • Durable
  • Lots of very fun and vibrant colors

Cons:

  • Only one nib size, medium
  • Only takes standard international cartridges, won’t fit any converter 

Sheaffer 100, ~$40

Pros:

  • Classy design
  • Writes well
  • Durable
  • Comes with a converter

Cons:

  • Metal grip can be hard to hold for long writing sessions
  • Only accepts proprietary Sheaffer cartridges and converter
  • Might be a target for stealing, keep a close eye on it!

Platinum Cool, ~$42

Pros:

  • Nice fit and finish
  • Writes well
  • Insert in cap keeps nib wet very well
  • Very fine nibs, great for cheap paper
  • Flexible nibs, can make writing fun if you choose to flex it
  • Clear pens, easy to see ink level
  • Comes with a converter

Cons:

  • Only accepts proprietary Platinum cartridges and converter
  • Might be a target for stealing, keep a close eye on it!
  • Converter doesn’t match the trim, but can be hacked to be made silver

TWSBI 580/Mini, ~$50-55

Pros:

  • Nice fit and finish
  • Writes well
  • Great value, for what they are
  • Insert in cap keeps nib wet very well
  • Wide variety of nibs to choose from, including stubs
  • Piston fillers, with large ink capacity
  • Clear pens, easy to see ink level
  • Easily disassembled for cleaning and maintenance

Cons:

  • Most expensive pens in this group
  • Might be a target for stealing, keep a close eye on it!

These are my recommendations, and take them for what they’re worth. These are pens that I feel are worth consideration for students, though which pen is best for you will ultimately be your own decision. These are only pens I have experience with, and it’s most certain there are others worth considering that I don’t talk about here. But hopefully this will at least give you something to consider if you’re a student and looking for a workhorse to help you make the most of your studies! If you have any other suggestions or questions, just let me know if the comments.

Write On,
Brian Goulet