As far as the word processor discussion goes, you can get a free word processor at: Apache OpenOffice - The Free and Open Productivity Suite
It's a completely legal and legit piece of open-source software (Not pirated or anything). The only drawback is that it isn't Microsoft Word, so it looks a little different and doesn't have all the same features, but you can click "Save as" and save in .doc format (Same format as Microsoft Word) if you want.
If you're just writing papers and stuff, it might do the trick. Open Office is my only word processor and I'm happy enough with it. Of course, I have very little need for a word processor, so it doesn't get used much. As a student, your needs might be intense enough that you need more, and I think if you try to do anything too fancy and then save in Word format, there is a chance that it might read a little managled at the other end for someone using Microsoft Word to read it. I've never had an issue with it in terms of saving and sending documents, though. Once someone sent me something they typed in Microsoft Word (I think) and all the paragraph breaks weren't there for some reason when I opened it, but every other time someone sent me something, it displayed fine.
Just a thought if you're trying to save a little cash. You could always try Open Office and then if you find that you're having issues with it, go out and buy Microsoft Word later (And since OO is free, you aren't out any money if you decide to uninstall it). And if you find OO suits your needs perfectly and all is well, no need to spend any money at all! I find the fees Microsoft tries to charge for MS Office and MS Word a little ridiculous, myself, but that's just my personal opinion and if it turns out that's the only thing that'll meet your needs, then I guess you'll have to bite the bullet and pay their asking price, but it doesn't necessarily need to be the first
thing you try.