If a manufacturer starts to feel like the value is not worth the cost to them, they will change their policies.
Many manufactures have started charging nominal fees (usually $15) to have samples sent. Some will waive the cost if you're associated with a company or university they have a contract with.
I made it clear that this is for my major and not just to tinker with. So for company I'm going to put Purdue electrical and computer engineering technology student.
Most manufacturers accept sample orders from students, some (esp maxim and ti) will actually let you sample non-samplable parts if you call them up as a student. I guess they see you as a future customer.
I know it doesn't apply here, but if you actually are a business, calling up your distributor (mouser and digikey count, even if they don't always care) and try asking them for samples. At least in Canada, it's the only way to get Linear and Atmel to send samples (unless you have a direct purchasing contract with them). NuHorizons has been known to help out students as well, even if you're not a customer.