Most low income households in the US already know how to get free government phones. However, few people know how to apply for and get a free or discounted tablet.
This straightforward guide shows you everything you need to get a free government tablet. We cover the eligibility criteria, required documents, and the application process. You’ll also discover a handful of participating providers in various states where you can receive a discounted tablet.
Is the Federal Government Giving Out Free Tablets?
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a US government benefit program designed to help low income households afford broadband internet access to access healthcare services, work, and school. The program also assists eligible households in paying for internet-connected devices, such as tablets, laptops, and desktop computers.
To be clear, no official government statement claims to give citizens free government tablets. However, through the ACP, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) aims to heavily discount internet-enabled devices when eligible households purchase from participating providers.
Eligible households must make a small contribution toward the device price to qualify for a discount on the purchase. The good news is that amount to be contributed is not more than $49.99, and it can be as little as $10.01, which is significantly low ― almost free!
Low income households can take advantage of this benefit by paying the token amount to a participating provider in their state. The provider will be reimbursed up to $100 for supplying an internet-connected tablet to the benefiting family.
That said, you can get free government tablets and other low-cost connected devices from a non-profit organization and charity, and we will cover that in the last section of this guide.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s consider the eligibility criteria to get a government tablet through the ACP benefit program.
Eligibility Criteria for a Government Tablet
According to the FCC, a household is eligible for the ACP benefit program if its annual income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guideline.
However, you can also qualify for a free tablet if someone in your household currently receives a government benefit. This could be Medicaid, Lifeline, Federal Pell Grant, Federal Housing Assistance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or other government assistance programs for a low income household.
If you or someone in your household currently participates in an assistance program, your eligibility will automatically be confirmed when you apply for the ACP benefit. Of course, this is subject to meeting the criteria for receiving a free government tablet. ACP checks the database of government benefit programs to ascertain your eligibility.
However, ACP will contact you and request additional information if it cannot determine your eligibility. You will be required to prove your eligibility by submitting any of the following documents:
- Award letter showing you currently receive a government benefit
- Verification letter from the benefit program
- Approval letter
- Benefit verification letter
- School documentation (for federal Pell Grants)
You might also be required to verify your identity and address. The documents for verifying your identity must include your first and last name and your date of birth. You can use your passport, US Driver’s license, birth certificate, or a valid government ID.
To verify your address, you must provide any document that shows your physical address and includes your first and last name. Also, you can submit a utility bill, lease or mortgage statement, or recent tax return.
Once your documents are ready, upload them online on the FCC website or submit them via mail to the following address:
ACP Support Center
PO Box 7081
London, KY 40742
Remember, never submit original documents through mail. Always ensure to make and submit only copies of your documents.
How to Apply for a Free Government Tablet
Applying for a discounted tablet through the ACP benefit program is pretty straightforward. Simply visit the FCC National Verifier webpage to apply. Fill in your correct information on the webpage and submit the application form.
Sometimes, there could be issues with your application form, even when you think you meet the eligibility criteria for a free or discounted tablet. If there seems to be a problem with your application, you can call the ACP Support Center at (877) 384-2575 to discuss your application status or check your eligibility for these benefits.
Another way to apply for a discounted government tablet is through a preferred service provider website (see how to access the list of participating providers in the next section). Fill out the ACP application form and submit the required documents to receive a connected tablet.
Finding ACP Participating Providers in Your Area
Many internet service providers across the US choose to participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program, meaning you will likely have a handful of choices when it comes to picking your preferred provider.
Keep in mind that some participating providers do not offer a discount on tablets and other connected devices. Some companies only provide mobile and fixed internet services, so be sure to choose an ACP-participating provider that offers discounted tablets.
A few of the popular participating providers in most states include:
- Assurance Wireless
- AirVoice Wireless
- Q Link Wireless
- Easy Wireless
- Cintex Wireless
- Cathect Communications
- Clear Wireless
- Standup Wireless
- Selectel Wireless
- Torch Wireless
Visit this FCC page for a full list of all providers in different states and territories. Contact your preferred provider to learn how their free government tablet plan and services work before contributing, as these may vary between participating providers.
Non-Profit Organizations Offering Low-Cost and Free Connected Devices
Another legitimate way to get a free government tablet for low income households is through NGOs. These organizations usually get cash donations as well as desktop computers, laptops, and other devices (some of which are refurbished). Depending on where you live, you might be able to get a free or low-cost connected device from any of the organizations below.
Keep in mind that low-cost or free devices may not always be available. However, some organizations may put you on their waiting list if one isn’t available.
1. Computer for Kids
Computer for Kids partners with Microsoft to refurbish computers and other devices for kids in grades K-12. The organization has been around for over two decades and serves schools in Washing, Utah, Idaho, and Oregon.
There are no income restrictions for participating in the Computer for Kids program. You can visit their website for more details on how to get a free device with free one-year technical support.
By collaborating with several Internet Service Providers, EveryoneOn helps low income families find deeply discounted computing devices and internet offers. To help make your search easier, EveryoneOn gives you a list of participating companies offering low-cost devices in your area when you enter your zip code on the website.
InterConnection is a non-profit that accepts used computer equipment as donations, refurbishes, and sells them at low prices. Although the organization mainly serves Seattle residents, you don’t have to live there to benefit from its services.
You might find a free tablet on the site, and even if you don’t, check back regularly, as items are added to the site quite often.
4. Computers With Causes
Computers With Causes distributes gifted tablets and computers to the elderly, disabled US veterans, students, teachers, struggling military families, and parents. Visit the website and fill out the online form to apply for a free tablet.
5. Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is a good option if you don’t meet the eligibility criteria for a low-cost or free government tablet. Although this charity is known for assisting the needy with food, gas, and small income, you might get a free tablet from one of its local chapters.