It’s September, and many students with their sights set on a career as a developer are back in the classroom, wondering how they’re going to afford this semester and still set the world on fire.

While the cost of a cold beer won’t likely break the bank account, purchasing development tools (let’s hope) represents a bigger cut into resources. Fortunately, many major corporations recognize students’ limitations and have stepped up to either offer free versions of their development software and tools, or to greatly reduce pricing and throw in other incentives to use their platforms. And why not? Along with good citizenship, these freebies promote brand visibility and thought leadership, and nurture a youth-based, growing developer community.

DreamSpark is a portal that gives students access to free Microsoft professional-grade development tool downloads, along with training in various formats. The portal also offers Visual Studio Pro 2010, Robotics Developer Studio, Game Studio, Visual Web Developer and more.

IEEE gives students a break on membership and encourages participation through numerous opportunities, including the upcoming 2011 President’s Change the World Competition, with entries opening this month. To boot, student developer members are given access to Microsoft development apps, including Visual Studio Team System.

Sun attracts students via its Sun Developer Network Academic Developer Program. Sun said the program is all about empowering academic developers through sharing, collaboration and open innovation. The company characterizes these elements as key to what it refers to as the “Participation Age.” The site welcomes teachers, professors, researchers and others who want to wrap Sun tools into their curricula. Free downloads of tools like NetBeans, Java Studio Creator, Sun Studio and more are available there, and free Web-based training comes with those tools.