Does the Government Provide Free Laptops for Low-Income People?
The United States of America is not the cheapest place to live in. On the contrary, as the country is very developed, the living costs are quite high. And while you may dislike the high prices and many expenses, you must also appreciate the fact that the government is trying hard to make sure that even low-income households and individuals in need have the same opportunities to build and live their American dream as anyone else.
Some of the best examples of this effort are the numerous government assistance programs that were launched by the government and designed to help people in need access healthcare (Medicaid), food and nutrition (SNAP), monthly phone services (Lifeline), and more. One of the latest federal benefit programs is the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
While phone services have been considered a basic need ever since the 1980s, broadband services have proven their vital importance during the pandemic. During this time most of us had to work and educate ourselves from home. Thus having a solid internet connection and an internet-connected device suddenly became crucial. Therefore, the government decided to launch the Emergency Broadband Benefit in 2021 – a program designed to help low-income people get monthly internet services and connected devices. By the end of 2021, the program proved to be vital, therefore, the government decided to modify and extend it, creating the new Affordable Connectivity Program.
The ACP program offers a discount of up to $30 (or $75 for eligible Tribal households) on monthly internet services. In addition, some ACP providers also offer a one-time discount on internet-connected devices (laptops, tablets, or desktop computers) of up to $100 if the customer pays a mandatory co-pay of more than $10 and less than $50.
So, to answer your question – the government absolutely does provide free laptops for low-income people. And in the following sections, you will find out all there is to know about how to get an ACP free laptop, how to apply, which ACP providers and other organizations offer them, and much more.
What is the Process of Getting ACP Free Laptops
Receiving an ACP free laptop from the government may sound too good to be true. Therefore, the government had to make sure that the program does not get abused by individuals and households that are fully capable of paying for their own internet services and connected devices. As such, the FCC came up with a list of eligibility criteria and a strict process that will make sure that only low-income people can apply. The process of getting ACP free laptops is as follows:
- You must meet the FCC-determined ACP eligibility criteria. If you qualify for the program, you may proceed to the next step. See the ACP eligibility criteria in the next section.
- You must prove your ACP eligibility. To do so, you will be asked to provide copies of certain unexpired, official documents that contain all the vital information during your application process.
- If you qualify for the program and are able to prove it, you can apply for an ACP free laptop. You can see exactly how to do so in the section ‘How to Apply for Affordable Connectivity Program Free Laptop’.
- If your application gets approved, you will be able to choose an ACP provider that offers ACP free laptops in your area and apply for its services.
- Finally, once approved, you will receive an ACP free laptop and other ACP benefits, which are listed in the following sections.
Who is Eligible for the ACP Free Laptop?
The first and perhaps most important step in trying to receive an ACP free laptop is to meet the FCC-determined ACP eligibility criteria that are universal for all ACP providers. In order to qualify for the program, you must either meet the income-based eligibility or the program participation-based eligibility.
Your annual household income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. The guideline depends on your household size and state.
Qualifying Government Assistance Program Participation-Based Eligibility
You or any other member of your household participates in one of these programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, including at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision schools
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Head Start (only households meeting the income qualifying standard)
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year
In addition to meeting one of these ACP eligibility criteria, the applicant must also be at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor. Plus, the ACP subscriber can only apply for the benefit at a provider that offers its services in the applicant’s state of residence.
What Documents Do I Need to Apply for ACP Free Laptops?
After reading the previous section, you may be certain that you indeed qualify for the ACP program. However, knowing it isn’t enough. Instead, you must be able to prove it. Otherwise, anyone can simply claim that they are ACP eligible and thus deserve to receive an ACP free laptop.
In order to prove your ACP eligibility, you will be required to submit copies of certain official documents during the application process. Depending on your eligibility criteria and other factors, you may be asked to verify your identity, age, address, prove your annual household income, or program participation. You may be asked to provide some of the following documents:
Proof of Qualifying Assistance Program Participation
To prove your qualifying assistance program participation, submit a copy of an official document that includes your first and last name, the name of the qualifying program (e.g. Lifeline), the name of the establishment that issued the document, and an issue date within the last 12 months or a future expiration date, such as:
- Approval letter
- Benefit award letter
- Benefit verification letter
- School documentation
- Statement of benefits
Proof of Household Income
To prove your annual household income, submit a copy of an official document that includes your first and last name and annual income, such as:
- A retirement/pension statement of benefits
- A Social Security statement of benefits
- Current income statement from your employer or a paycheck stub
- Divorce decree, child support award
- Prior year’s state, federal, or Tribal tax return
- Unemployment or Worker’s Compensation statement of benefits
- Veterans Administration statement of benefits
Identity and Age Verification
To verify your identity or age, submit a copy of an official document that includes your first and last name and date of birth, such as:
- A valid government, military, state, or Tribal ID
- Birth Certificate
- Certificate of U.S. Citizenship or Naturalization
- Government assistance program document
- Permanent Resident Card or Green Card
- U.S. Driver’s license
To verify your address, submit a copy of an official document that includes your first and last name and physical address, such as:
- A valid government, state, or Tribal ID
- Driver’s license
- Mortgage or lease statement
- Most recent W-2 or tax return
- Utility bill
Other Personal Data Verification
You may also be required to submit certain official, unexpired documents that contain or prove the following information:
- Duplicate address
- Emancipated minor status
- Social Security Number or Tribal ID Number
- Proof of life
To make sure the application process is as fast and smooth as possible, make sure to prepare a copy of one document from each of the sections above. Only submit clear copies and never submit original documents.
How to Apply for Affordable Connectivity Program Free Laptop
There are several ways to apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program:
- Visit nv.fcc.gov/lifeline/?id=nv_flow&ebbp=true.
- Login or create a new account.
- Fill out the online application process. Provide all the required personal information and proof documentation.
- Note: If you apply online, you may be able to receive immediate approval.
- Print out a physical application form available at affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/ACP-Application-Form-English.pdf.
- Print out a Household Worksheet available at affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/lifeline/images/ACP-Household-Worksheet-English.pdf.
- Add copies of your proof documentation.
- Send the package to ACP Support Center, PO Box 7081, London, KY 40742.
By Contacting Your Internet Company
Some ACP providers may allow you to apply for the ACP program directly at their website. To do so, you must first find an ACP provider in your area. You can do so at affordableconnectivity.gov/companies-near-me. Keep in mind that not all ACP providers offer ACP free laptops – in fact, most of them don’t. As such, you must find a provider that offers ACP free laptops in your area.
How to Check My ACP Free Laptop Application Status?
After you submit your application, the ACP support center will review your application and share your results with you as soon as possible. If you applied online, you may receive immediate approval. In case the ACP support center will struggle to prove your eligibility, you may be asked to provide additional documentation.
Once your application is approved, the establishment will notify you immediately (probably via email). You can also contact the USAC to find out more.
Once the ACP Application is Approved, How Long Will It Take to Get the Free Laptop?
Once the ACP support center or the USAC approves your application, you will be able to move forward.
The next step is to find an ACP provider that offers ACP free laptops in your area. You can see the list of providers that offer free laptops in the following sections.
Once you find an appropriate company, you can apply for an ACP free laptop.
If your application gets approved, the company will do its best to provide you with a free laptop as soon as possible. Exactly when you can expect to receive a free laptop depends on several factors, including availability, the provider, your address, the state, etc.
What Laptops are Available for Free Through ACP?
When it comes to laptop (or tablet/desktop computer) models, ACP providers are very secretive. Generally, they do not disclose the available device models in advance, which is only natural, as their offer depends on several factors, including the state and availability.
Most ACP providers offer laptops with all the basic features, such as Wi-Fi connectivity and essential software. However, they tend to lack the funds to provide customers with the priciest and most advanced devices.
If customer testimonials are to be believed, ACP providers tend to provide some of the following laptop brands:
- Dell laptop
- Lenovo laptop
- Google Chromebook
What Other Benefits Does the Affordable Connectivity Program Provide?
In addition to one-time discounts on internet-connected devices (laptops, tablets, or desktop computers) with a mandatory contribution of more than $10 and less than $50, ACP providers also offer discounts on monthly internet services. Eligible customers can get:
- A discount of up to $30 on monthly internet services (non-Tribal households)
- Or a discount of up to $75 on monthly broadband services (Tribal households)
Moreover, many ACP providers also participate in the Lifeline benefit program, which gives them extra funds. Such providers may also use their ACP benefits to co-finance monthly phone or wireless services and high-quality mobile devices (Android smartphones or even iPhones).
Which Providers Offer Free Laptops Under the Affordable Connection Program?
While all ACP providers offer discounts on monthly internet services, there are only some that also offer a one-time discount to purchase an internet-connected device. Of all the ACP providers that offer connected devices, most of them offer ACP free tablets. As such, there are very few companies that offer ACP free laptops.
Currently, there are only two ACP providers that offer free laptops under the ACP program – PCs for People and Human-I-T.
PCs for People
PCs for People is an organization that participates in the ACP program by the FCC. Its goal is to ensure that households can afford the technology (both services and devices) they need for work, school, healthcare, and more.
How to Enroll PCs for People
To apply, you must meet the organization’s ACP eligibility criteria. See the slightly altered eligibility criteria at pcsforpeople.org/eligibility. If eligible, you can start your application process at acp.pcsrefurbished.com/acp. Read the program terms and benefits, agree to the mandatory checkboxes, and press ‘Accept and Continue’. Fill out the online application form, and submit the application. If approved, you will be notified in a matter of days.
Human-I-T is a leading non-profit organization that promoted equitable access to technology and broadband services. As an ACP provider, Human-I-T is offering large discounts on high-speed internet services and devices. The non-profit’s cheapest ACP laptop and hotspot bundle can be purchased for as little as $105.
How to Enroll Human-I-T
There are two ways to apply for free monthly broadband services and an ACP free laptop from Human-I-T – online or by phone. To apply online, visit human-i-t.org/acp and fill out the online application form under ‘Internet Request – Affordable Connectivity Program’. Provide all the required data and proof documentation, and press ‘Submit Form’ when you’re done.
To apply by phone, call one of the company’s subscription specialists at 888-391-7249. The specialist will guide you through the application process, however, make sure to have all your personal information and documentation handy.
In addition, there are some other organizations that offer free laptops with the help of the government:
World Computer Exchange
World Computer Exchange is a program that was launched by the United States and Canadian governments. The program is partnering with many NGOs, schools, and libraries in order to collect and redistribute computers and technology to people in need. They provide laptops to low-income households in the U.S. and abroad (in developing countries).
How to Enroll World Computer Exchange
To apply, you will be required to prove your low-income status. Start your enrollment process by visiting worldcomputerexchange.org/get-involved/get-computers. You will be required to fill out the online application form by entering all the personal data, as well as information and documentation that may prove your eligibility. If your application gets approved, the company will notify you immediately.
SmartRiverside is a non-profit organization that consists of several partners all working toward the same goal – providing low-income households with free computers and computer skills. The founders of the organization understand that having a laptop is not enough – to profit from it, one must also know how to use it. As such, the company also offers advanced computer learning.
How to Enroll SmartRiverside
The company’s eligibility requirements depend on the government eligibility criteria for free laptops, therefore the requirements may vary by state. To sign up and hopefully receive a free laptop, contact them via email at [email protected] or visit their website at smartriverside.org.
Computers With Causes
This is an organization that provides free refurbished laptops and computers for people in need. The organization focuses on providing devices, especially for students, parents, teachers, the elderly, shelters, foster homes, disabled U.S. veterans, military families, and other non-profits. The company offers free laptops through donations. It is managed by the Giving Center.
How to Enroll Computers With Causes
To start your application process, visit computerswithcauses.org/application. Fill out the online application form. Prove your eligibility by providing any ACP proof that you may have. The company will take its time to assess whether or not you truly can’t afford a laptop or computer on your own. If approved, you will be notified shortly.
Can I Get a Free Laptop Any Other Way?
In case you do not meet the government-determined ACP eligibility criteria or if there are no ACP free laptop providers in your state of residence, you will have to find a free laptop elsewhere (assuming that you actually need one). Luckily, there are several other organizations that provide free laptops for people in need. See the list of such organizations in the next section.
In addition, if you are a person in need, you may also explore some other ways to get a free laptop:
- Contact companies that are known for occasionally providing free computers, such as United Way, St Vincent De Paul, The Open Education Database, SAM.gov Assistance Listings, Interconnection, Craigslist, etc.
- If you are a student, a parent of a student, or a teacher, you should also try your local school or college.
- Contact your local church.
- Ask at your local library – if nothing else they will surely let you use a device there.
- Get in touch with a local charity.
Other Organizations That Help You Get Free Laptops
Adaptive is an organization with a simple mission – to provide computers for children from age 5 to college age that come from low-income families. Eligible children may receive a free laptop or desktop computer. The organization may also provide digital technology to low-income seniors and people with disabilities.
To apply for a free laptop from Adaptive, visit aptive.org and contact the non-profit either by phone at 1-800-763-3097 or via email. In order to receive the free device, you will have to complete 10 hours of community service.
Alliance for Technology
This organization believes in a thriving non-profit technology refurbishment industry. Alliance is trying hard to end the digital divide, as it believes that all people should have access to the internet and computers. The organization offers free devices for households in need, charitable organizations, and humanitarian organizations. To do so, the company partners with Interconnection, Computer Reach, Electronic Access Foundation, and Virginia Star.
To start your application process, visit the organization’s official website at aftrr.org. Contact the organization and ask for a free laptop. You will have to prove that you really need it and can’t afford it.
Everyone On is an organization designed to help provide affordable internet service and computers to financially struggling households. The organization is partnered with numerous broadband service providers and device providers, which offer their services and devices. Even though Everyone On is not an actual ACP provider, it does take the applicant’s ACP subscription into account.
Sign up by visiting everyoneon.org/lowcost-offers and reviewing the list of service and device providers near you. Each provider may have different requirements, therefore, make sure to choose the one you qualify for.
While there are people who are unable to afford any kind of laptop or computer, there are also households that wish to keep up with the latest technological developments and thus buy new devices before the old ones start malfunctioning. Freecycle is an organization that collects such old devices in good working condition and donates them to households in need.
To get a free laptop at Freecycle, simply browse the offers in your area and contact the users who wish to get rid of their old devices. Find a suitable offer at freecycle.org/browse/US.
Komputers for Kids
This is an organization that provides used and refurbished computers to children from low-income families. The organization works with a group of volunteers who find used computers and refurbish them.
In order to get a free computer, you must prove that you are a child that comes from a financially struggling household. To apply, visit komputers4rkids.com and follow the provided instructions.
Microsoft Registered Refurbishers
When it comes to computer technology, Microsoft is obviously a huge name. However, while you all may know that the company sells computer software and devices, you may not know that one of its divisions works with organizations to gather used computers, refurbish them, and donate them to people in need.
Learn more about the company’s efforts and apply for a free computer at devicepartner.microsoft.com/en-us/communications/comm-microsoft-refurbisher-programs. During the application process, you will have to prove your eligibility.
National Cristina Foundation
This is a national foundation that works with numerous organizations throughout the country. Its goal is to provide low-income people and households with free electronic devices. They collect the devices, make sure they get refurbished and donate them to organizations, which then provide them to people who are unable to afford them.
Read more about the foundation and its partners at cristina.org/what-we-do.
The Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse
This is a nationwide association of more than 85 non-profit organizations that have a common goal – to refurbish and donate electronic devices to people in need. People who have old computers in good working conditions can donate the device, the union refurbishes it, and low-income households can then apply and receive a free refurbished device.
The On It Foundation
The On It Foundation is a foundation that provides free computers, computer training, and broadband services to households with children from grades K to 12 that attend a public school in the U.S. and participate in the Free or Reduced School Lunch program.
The foundation has a unique application process. To apply a child’s parent or guardian must write to the On It Foundation at the following address: The On It Foundation Attn: Free Computer Application 18520 NW 67th Avenue, Suite 186 Miami, FL 33015 and send an email to [email protected]. The letter must provide the student’s name, age, grade, school name, school address, and school phone number, as well as the parent or guardian’s name, address, and phone number. Learn more at https://theonitfoundation.org/faqs/.
The One Laptop Per Child Foundation (OLPS)
This is a non-profit program that provides computers and other digital technology products to children from low-income households. The program also offers educational services and learning experiences for kids in need.
If you are struggling to provide education to your family members, you should read more and apply at laptop.org. On this website, you will find a contact form. Fill it out with an inquiry on how to receive a free laptop. Submit the form and if the company finds you eligible to receive a free laptop, you will be notified.
What are the Best Specifications of ACP Free Laptops
As the ACP free laptop models are generally not revealed in advance, it’s hard to speculate about the best specifications of ACP free laptops. However, customers can expect to receive a device with the following specifications:
- Processor: Intel Celeron N4010
- Display: 11-inch HD
- RAM: 4 GB
- Internal storage: 32 GB
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi
- Camera: Yes
- Brand: Google Chromebook, Dell, Lenovo, Asus
ACP Free Laptops Related FAQs
What is the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)?
The ACP program is a federal benefit program by the FCC that provides discounts on monthly broadband services. Depending on the individual provider’s funds, the government program may also provide a discount on internet-connected devices, such as laptops.
How Does ACP Work?
The government provides ACP funds to internet providers that decide to participate in the ACP program. The government funds enable providers to offer free or discounted internet services (and in some cases, internet-connected devices) to low-income households and individuals who are unable to afford them. The customer can receive these benefits if they apply for the ACP discounts and manage to prove their eligibility.
What Happens if I No Longer Qualify for the Affordable Connections Program?
In case you no longer qualify for the ACP program (because your annual household income is no longer at or below 200% or you no longer participate in a qualifying government assistance program), you must notify your ACP provider within 30 days. You will then lose your benefits.
How Does the ACP Protect Consumers?
The ACP program protects its consumers in several ways. It provides discounts regardless of the customer’s credit status, enables them to choose the plan that best fits their needs, prevents consumers from being forced into pricey or lower quality plans, ensures that consumers are not liable for early termination fees, reduces the potential of financial harms, allows customers to switch providers, and provides a process for complaints.
Can I Choose My ACP Laptop Provider?
Yes, however, you can only choose among ACP providers that offer discounts in your state of residence.
Does My ACP Free Laptop Come With a Warranty?
Yes, most ACP free tablets come with a warranty. The most generous providers will give you a 5-year warranty on the device.
How is Lifeline Different From the ACP?
Lifeline is a government assistance program that offers discounts on phone, wireless, or internet services. Some providers also offer free phones.
Can I Get Free Tablets Under ACP Program?
Yes, some ACP providers offer ACP free tablets.
Which ACP Providers Offer ACP Free Tablets?
ACP providers that offer ACP free tablets include AirTalk Wireless, Q Link Wireless, StandUp Wireless, Cintex Wireless, NewPhone Wireless, Easy Wireless, etc.
Can I Get a Free Phone Under ACP Program?
Many ACP providers also offer Lifeline discounts and many of them combine their benefits to offer customers free phones.
Which ACP Providers Offer ACP Free Phones?
ACP providers that also offer free phones include AirTalk Wireless, Cintex Wireless, Easy Wireless, NewPhone Wireless, StandUp Wireless, TruConnect, SafeLink Wireless, enTouch Wireless, Access Wireless, etc.
Does the Government Provide Laptops for Low-Income People?
Yes, the government provides free laptops for low-income people through its ACP program. The government also participates with numerous other charities and non-profit organizations and helps them provide free or affordable laptops for people in need.