I just saw that Technet Subscriptions have a new cheaper option. The new subscription is called Standard and lists for $199/yr with a $149/yr renewal. This compares to the previously available Professional option which lists for $349/yr with a $249/yr renewal. Just make sure you check out the differences between subscriptions as you do give up some of the Enterprise software. For additional information checkout the Technet Subscriptions website.
Another program I found out about a few months ago is called Dream Spark. This program allows you to register with a .edu email address and then allows you to download and use select Microsoft products for free. This is a fantastic opportunity whether you are still learning the ropes in school or are a seasoned professional who has gone back to further your education. The Dream Spark website has all the details.