As 9to5Mac reported Wednesday, Apple today has finally kicked off the much talked-about 2011 Back to School promotion which runs through September 20, 2011. The promotion comes with a notable change of freebie: Instead of a free iPod touch with every Mac purchase, the company this year decided to, as 9to5Mac exclusively reported Monday, give away a $100 iTunes gift card in the US and Canada (£65 iTunes gift cards in the UK, €75 in Europe) with a qualifying Mac purchase, meaning any MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac or Mac Pro model. Per Apple’s terms:

When you buy a new qualifying Mac with Apple education pricing from June 16, 2011, through September 20, 2011, you’ll get a $100 Back to School Card to use on the Mac App Store, the App Store, the iTunes Store, and the iBookstore.

iTunes gift cards can be redeemed in iTunes and used against any content purchase ranging from e-books, music, movies and television shows to apps for iOS devices and Macs. The promotion applies to college students, students accepted to college, parents buying for college students or students accepted to college and faculty or staff members at any grade level.

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And how do you get your free iTunes gift card? “When you buy a qualifying Mac at the Apple Retail Store or Apple Online Store, we’ll include your Back to School Card with your order. If you buy at a campus store, you’ll submit your claim online and get your code via email. Enter the code on your Back to School Card in your iTunes account and we’ll automatically credit you with $100 to spend on the Mac App Store, the App Store, the iTunes Store, and the iBookstore”, Apple explains.

New signage in Apple’s brick-and-mortar stores helps get the word out to visitors. The company also updated the software on stores’ iPad Smart Signs to include new options and information regarding 2011 Back to School. The latest promotion came as a surprise to some who hoped that Apple would continue its years-long practice of luring students with free Apple hardware. Critics might say that as Apple gets richer and their products more popular, their back to school promotions and education discounts continue to get less sexy.

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