As nowadays having a tablet, laptop, desktop computer, or another connected device is considered a basic need and as many low-income people can’t afford to buy one, you may be wondering if SNAP/EBT-eligible low-income people can get a free tablet with EBT.
The answer is yes.
Low-income households can receive a free phone through the Lifeline program and a free tablet, laptop, or desktop computer by participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program.
Affordable Connectivity Program (former Emergency Broadband Benefit) is a new federal assistance program that provides a monthly discount on internet service of up to $30 for eligible households (up to $75 for eligible households on Tribal lands). Some Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) providers also offer a one-time discount of up to $100 on connected devices (tablets, laptops, desktops) if the customer contributes more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
To participate in the ACP, you must be ACP-eligible. You must either come from a low-income household or participate in another government aid program, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which uses the EBT system. As such, participating in the SNAP/EBT program enables people to enroll in Lifeline and ACP and thus possibly receive a free tablet with EBT.
Process for Participating in the EBT/SNAP program
As you can see, participating in the SNAP program and using the EBT system comes with numerous benefits. Therefore, enrolling in the SNAP/EBT program may sound appealing. However, to participate in the SNAP/EBT program, you must qualify for it.
According to federal rules, your household must meet three income criteria to be eligible for the SNAP/EBT program:
- Your household’s gross monthly income (a household’s income before any of the program’s deductions are applied) must be at or below 130% of the poverty line. The poverty line is higher for larger families with more members and lower for smaller families.
- Your household’s net income (a household’s income after the program deductions are applied) must be at or below the poverty line.
- Your household’s assets must fall below some limits. The limits are: households without a member who is elderly (an elderly person is considered one that is 60 or more years old) or who has a disability must have assets of $2,500 or less, and households with such a member must have assets of $3,750 or less.
However, some people cannot be SNAP-eligible, even if they meet the income and assets criteria above. These people include people who are on strike, unauthorized immigrants, some lawfully present immigrants, and certain students attending college more than half the time.
Additionally, unemployed adults without children in the home who do not have disabilities are in many states limited to three months of SNAP benefits every three years.
Application Process for the EBT Program
There are several ways to apply for the SNAP (EBT) program and they are all simple, fast, and user-friendly.
Probably the simplest way to apply to the SNAP/EBT program is online.
- Step 1: Visit dtaconnect.eohhs.mass.gov.
- Step 2: Press ‘Apply SNAP’ and then, ‘Get Started’.
- Step 3: You will be redirected to the online application form. Fill it out by providing the necessary information and documentation that proves your eligibility.
- Step 4: Submit the application and wait a couple of days to see if you qualify.
You can also submit your SNAP application by mail or fax. Simply download the SNAP benefits application form in your language at mass.gov/lists/dta-documents-and-forms. Seniors of age 60 or more can use the SNAP application for seniors at mass.gov/doc/english-snap-application-for-seniors-snap-app-seniors-0/download. Then, download the DTA cover sheet at mass.gov/doc/dta-mailfax-cover-sheet/download and mail or fax the completed cover sheet and application to DTA Document Processing Center, P.O. Box 4406, Taunton, MA 02780, (617) 887-8765.
You can also apply for the SNAP/EBT program by phone. Simply call the DTA Assistance Line at (877) 382-2363 and press 7 to apply for SNAP. The DTA Assistance Line is available from 8:15 AM to 4:45 PM Monday to Friday.
Finally, you can apply for SNAP/EBT in person at a local DTA office (find the closest one at mass.gov/orgs/department-of-transitional-assistance/locations?_page=1) or a community kiosk (search at mass.gov/orgs/department-of-transitional-assistance/locations?_page=1).
Documents Required to Apply for EBT Program
To complete the SNAP/EBT application process, you may be required to provide some documents that verify and prove the information about you and your household. You can submit these supporting documents along with the application.
Required SNAP documents include:
- An official document that shows identity and SSN (Social Security Number).
- An official document that shows your residency, such as a rent receipt, lease, utility bill, deed, or mortgage statement.
- An official document that shows your earnings and number of hours worked, such as pay stubs or a letter from employer showing gross income and number of hours worked.
- An official document that shows other income. This applies if you receive workers’ compensation, Veterans’ benefits, pension, child support, alimony, etc. The acceptable documents include a benefit or award letter or check or record of payment.
- An official document that shows your noncitizen status, such as a Permanent Resident Card, Employment Authorization Card, or another document showing your current or pending immigration status.
To become eligible for more SNAP benefits, you can also submit some optional SNAP documents, such as:
- Housing costs. For example, rent receipt, lease, mortgage statement, home insurance bill, or another document showing how much you need to pay.
- Utility costs. For example, a bill for electricity, heat, gas, phone, lease, etc.
- Dependent care costs – child or adult daycare costs.
- Medical costs. For example, disability bills, medical bills not covered by the insurance, payments for homemakers, transportation costs, etc.
- Child support payments
Read more at mass.gov/service-details/snap-verifications-what-information-you-need-to-provide.
Ways to Get a Free Tablet With EBT Program
As mentioned before, you can get a free tablet with EBT (SNAP) by participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program. Below you can see the whole process of enrolling in the ACP and receiving a free tablet with EBT/SNAP.
Step 1: In case you don’t participate in the SNAP/EBT program yet, you must first apply. Check the SNAP/EBT eligibility criteria in the ‘How Do I Qualify for the EBT Program?’ section and review the ways to apply in the ‘How to Apply to the EBT Program’ section above.
Step 2: Make sure you are ACP-eligible. A person or household is ACP-eligible if they meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Your household income is below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
- You or any of your household members participate in certain federal assistance programs, such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Federal Public Housing Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, the Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit, or certain Tribal Programs.
- You or any of your household members have received a federal Pell Grant award in the current award year.
- You or any of your household members were approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020, 2020-2021, or 2021-2022 school year.
- You meet the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income program.
Step 3: Find an ACP provider that offers free tablets with EBT in your state of residence. You can find a list of all ACP providers at fcc.gov/affordable-connectivity-program-providers. Select your state and note which providers have a tick under ‘offering connected devices’.
Step 4: Once you find an ACP provider in your state that offers free tablets with EBT and is otherwise suitable, apply for their ACP benefits by filling out their online application form. You can also submit an ACP application directly at acpbenefit.org.
Best Providers From Whom You Can Get Free Tablets with EBT Program
All Affordable Connectivity Program providers offer discounts on monthly internet services, however, only some of them also offer a one-time discount of up to $100 on connected devices. Note: To receive this one-time device discount, you must contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
Different ACP providers offer different devices. Most of them offer primarily laptops, including PCs for People and Human I-T. However, there are some Lifeline and ACP providers that offer free tablets with EBT/SNAP. As the provider’s offers change regularly, keep an eye on other ACP providers, however, currently, you can get a free tablet with EBT from the following ACP providers.
Q Link Wireless
Q Link Wireless is one of the most popular Lifeline providers in the country. Up until December 31, 2021, they also participated in the now-expired Emergency Broadband Benefit. When this temporary program was no longer available, Q Link Wireless immediately started participating in the new Affordable Connectivity Program, which offers similar benefits as the former EBB program.
Q Link Wireless ACP benefits include a free monthly cell phone service plan with unlimited talk, text, and data on one of America’s largest networks. Q Link ACP also provides eligible customers with a free tablet with EBT or SNAP. The tablet model depends on the location and availability, however, the device comes with the latest Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities. ACP participants must pay a one-time $10.01 co-pay to receive the device.
To participate in Q Link Wireless ACP, you must be ACP-eligible. As you can see from the eligibility criteria above, participating in SNAP and using the EBT system is enough to qualify.
Learn more about Q Link ACP and sign up at qlinkwireless.com/acp.
StandUp Wireless is another former EBB provider and current ACP provider that offers discounts on connected devices. It is currently unclear what kind of connected device customers may receive by contributing more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price. However, as StandUp’s expired EBB program used to provide free tablets, it’s safe to assume that its successor – StandUp ACP – will also offer free tablets.
In addition to connected devices, StandUp ACP offers free wireless service with unlimited talk, text, 10 GB of high-speed data, and unlimited low-speed data. Customers will be able to enjoy these benefits on their phones or tablets.
To participate in the StandUp ACP, you must be ACP-eligible. Read more and apply at standupwireless.com/acp.
Currently, Easy Wireless is one of the few ACP providers that offer free tablets with EBT, SNAP, or other qualifying government programs. As of December 31, 2021, Easy Wireless participates in the new ACP program.
Easy Wireless customers that participate in both Lifeline and ACP can claim a free government smartphone service with free unlimited talk, text, data, and hotspot. ACP-eligible customers may also receive a free smartphone and an 8-inch tablet. Note: Unlimited data and the tablet are a limited-time offer as part of the Affordable Connectivity Program.
To sign up, you must participate in the SNAP/EBT program or be otherwise ACP-eligible.
Read more, enroll in Easy’s ACP program, and claim your free tablet with EBT at myeasywireless.com.
You can find a list of all ACP providers at fcc.gov/affordable-connectivity-program-providers. Select your state and note which providers have a tick under ‘offering connected devices’.
If Eligible for the EBT Program, What Other Benefits Can You Get Besides a Free Tablets?
Participating in the SNAP program and using the EBT system offers numerous perks and benefits:
- First and foremost, it allows you to receive free food and enables you to pay for your groceries with your SNAP benefits.
- It enables you to enroll in the Lifeline and/or ACP program and thus receive:
- Free cell phone service
- Free monthly voice minutes
- Free monthly texts
- Free monthly data
- A free smartphone
- A discount on monthly internet services
- A discount on a connected device (tablet, laptop, or desktop computer)
Can I Get a Free Tablet Another Way – Other Than Using the EBT Program?
As you can see, it is entirely possible to receive a free tablet with EBT. However, there are also some other ways to receive a free tablet.
- Through the ACP program
SNAP participants who use the EBT system aren’t the only ones that can participate in the ACP program and receive a free tablet and other ACP benefits. These perks can also be enjoyed by other ACP-eligible people, including:
- People whose annual household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
- Those who participate in certain federal assistance programs, such as Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, the Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit, or certain Tribal Programs.
- People who have received a federal Pell Grant award in the current award year.
- Households that were approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020, 2020-2021, or 2021-2022 school year.
- People who meet the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income program.
- Through a charity or non-profit organization, such as The Salvation Army
- From a company, such as Adaptive.org, Microsoft Registered Refurbished, and On It Foundation
- From a public library
- From a church
- Online (Craigslist, Freecycle, Reddit, giveaways)
What Does the EBT Program Actually Mean?
EBT is an acronym. It stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer. EBT or Electronic Benefits Transfer is an electronic system that allows state welfare departments to issue benefits via a magnetically encoded payment card and enables all SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) participants to pay for their groceries with their SNAP benefits.
When a SNAP participant shops at a SNAP authorized retail store, their SNAP EBT account gets debited to reimburse the shop for the food that was purchased. The EBT system is used in all 50 U.S. states, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. Since 2004, the EBT system has been the sole method of SNAP issuance throughout the country.
SNAP or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as Food Stamps), on the other hand, is a federal nutrition program for low-income families. SNAP participants are the only people that use the EBT system, as such, the phrase ‘EBT program’ actually hints at the ‘SNAP program’.