You probably are aware that eligible US citizens can get free government phones, but considering how expensive iPhones can be, is it possible to get one from a government service provider for free?
Yes, you can! This post will show you how to get a free iPhone with a government program. While you may not get the latest iPhone from a government service provider, you can get a decent model for free, provided you are eligible.
Keep reading to learn the government programs through which you can get a free iPhone and how to apply for the device. We also cover eligibility requirements, the iPhone models you can expect, as well as the service providers offering free iPhones.
What Government Programs Offer Free iPhones?
There’s no denying the vital role of mobile phones in today’s world. We all need these portable devices to stay in touch with family, friends, work, and essential services. However, a good-quality phone, like the iPhone, can be quite expensive and way out of many people’s budget.
Considering this fact and how important phones are, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) helps eligible low-income individuals and households access free and heavily discounted phones, devices, and services.
The FCC makes this provision through the Lifeline Assistance program and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
Lifeline Assistance Program
The Lifeline Assistance program was established to help qualified low-income households afford free and government-subsidized cell phones, including free monthly text and talk minutes.
Partnering with several government-authorized phone providers across the nation, Lifeline has continued to help many families stay connected to all the important people and opportunities in their lives.
Eligible individuals must enroll in the Lifeline program through a service provider to get a free iPhone. However, not all Lifeline providers offer iPhones.
Even popular companies, like SafeLink Wireless, only offer free basic cell phones, android phones, and phone service (check the last section of this post for government-approved providers offering iPhones).
That said, you can purchase iPhones from SafeLink Wireless at discounted prices. We recommend this option if you want to get the latest iPhone models. And the best part is that SafeLink offers payment plans that let you pay over time with zero interest!
Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a newer government benefits program to help low-income households pay for internet-connected devices and broadband service.
Like the Lifeline program, eligible households must enroll with an ACP service provider to get a free iPhone and discounted monthly phone service.
You can also enjoy free services, such as unlimited monthly data, access to mobile hotspot data, and free unlimited monthly talk minutes and text.
Depending on the provider, you may also get free voicemail service, call waiting, and caller ID services.
Which iPhone Models Can You Get?
Just because you are applying for a free phone doesn’t necessarily mean you will get an ancient device. You may receive one of the following models if you qualify for a no-cost government iPhone model.
- Apple iPhone 6
- Apple iPhone 6 Plus
- Apple iPhone 6s
- Apple iPhone 6s Plus
- Apple iPhone 7
- Apple iPhone 7 Plus
- Apple iPhone 8
- Apple iPhone SE
Depending on the government provider, you may not have the option to choose your preferred iPhone model. Also, getting a free iPhone from a Lifeline or ACP provider is subject to availability.
If any of the above models appeal to you, the next step in learning how to get a free iPhone model is to know the eligibility requirement.
Who Can Get a Free Government iPhone?
Free and discounted government iPhones are strictly for low-income consumers. You must meet a certain income limit to qualify for a free or discounted government device.
Qualifying Through Lifeline
Lifeline defines an eligible low-income consumer as a household with an income not exceeding 135% of the Federal Poverty Guideline.
If you do not meet this income limit, you may be eligible for the Lifeline program by participating in any government benefits programs, like:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
It is also possible to qualify for Lifeline through Tribal assistance programs, such as:
- Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Tribal Head Start (only those households meeting its income qualifying standard)
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance (BIA)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
Qualifying Through ACP
According to ACP guidelines, a household may qualify for a free government device if it meets one of the following criteria:
- Have an income not exceeding 200% of the Federal Poverty Guideline.
- Have a child or dependant in the same household who participates in any government assistance program.
- Participate in benefits programs like SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, and similar federal assistance programs.
- Be part of a Tribal assistance program.
Keep in mind that only one person can receive a free phone and service in each eligible household. Even if you switch to a new Lifeline or ACP company after receiving a free iPhone, you can only get benefits on one of the devices.
How to Apply for a Free iPhone
The first step to applying for a free iPhone is to check if you are eligible for Lifeline. To do this, visit the National Verifier webpage and submit your personal information.
Keep in mind that you automatically qualify for ACP if you are Lifeline eligible.
If everything checks out, fill out and submit the online application form for a free iPhone. Once approved, you will receive an iPhone (usually within 7 to 10 days) at the address you provided during signup.
To apply for a free iPhone via mail, make copies of the required eligibility and personal documents (see the next section). Once the documents are ready, mail them to this address:
ACP Support Center
PO Box 7081
London, KY 40742
Another way to apply for a free iPhone is to request directly on the Lifeline or ACP provider’s website.
Be sure you meet the eligibility and any other service provider requirements before applying.
What Documents Will You Need?
You will need to provide eligibility and personal documents when applying for a free iPhone through Lifeline or ACP.
While specific documentation may vary between providers, you should have the following documents handy:
- Proof of income (self-employment bookkeeping records, bank statements, pay stubs, agency letter showing unearned income).
- Award letter showing you currently receive a government benefit.
- Verification and approval letters from the benefits program.
If you currently receive Pell Grants, you may be required to show documentation from your school.
- Proof of identity (valid government ID, US driver’s license, passport, birth certificate)
- Proof of physical address showing your first and last name (utility bill, recent tax return, lease or mortgage statement)
Which Lifeline and ACP Providers Offer Free iPhones?
As mentioned, not all Lifeline and ACP providers give free iPhones, even if you meet the Lifeline and ACP eligibility requirements.
Now that we’ve covered how to get a free iPhone, it is important to list participating companies where you can apply for the free device.
Here are the most reliable Lifeline and ACP providers that offer free iPhones.
Cintex Wireless is a government service provider serving many states and US territories, including Arkansas, Alabama, Colorado, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Puerto Rico, and Washington, among others.
This company offers a wide range of Apple iPhone models, including iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, and 7.
The provider also gives monthly free unlimited talk and text to eligible low-income consumers enrolled in the ACP. You can also get an Apple iPad Mini for as little as $10.01 from Cintex Wireless.
Consider choosing NewPhone Wireless if you live in Maryland, Maine, Connecticut, and Hawaii.
Besides Apple iPhone 6 and 7 models, eligible households can get a free iPhone 8 in addition to free unlimited service plans.
Airtalk Wireless is a Lifeline provider currently serving qualified households in many states, including Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, New Jersey, Washington, Wyoming, and Puerto Rico.
Consider signing up with Airtalk Wireless for a chance to get a free Apple iPhone SE through the ACP or Lifeline program. The company also offers other older iPhone models.