Apple iPads are some of the most popular tablet computers and electronic devices in general. People are crazy about them! When a new iPad model is launched, die-hard fans tend to sleep in front of the store the night before just to make sure that they will receive their own amazing feature-packed device as soon as possible.
Not only are these tablets wildly popular, but they are also very expensive. As such, you wouldn’t think that the government would just give them away for free, would you? Well, it does! Certain extremely generous companies offer free government iPads, but only to qualifying low-income people. In this article, you will find out how and where you can get an iPad from the government free of charge.
How Come the Government Offers Free Government iPads?
During the pandemic, the government has recognized the importance of internet services and connected devices. Before the pandemic, such services and products were not considered essential, however, during the pandemic, having a computer, laptop, or tablet that is connected to the internet suddenly became everyone’s top priority. The government has realized that people need these services and devices for work, and entertainment, to look for a job, access virtual classrooms, search for information, stay in touch with family members and friends, and contact healthcare and emergency services. As such, a new government assistance program called the Emergency Broadband Benefit was launched.
Due to the popularity and success of this program, after a few months, the government has decided to modify and extend this temporary program, introducing the new long-term Affordable Connectivity Program.
The Affordable Connectivity Program or ACP is a program that offers a discount of up to $30 a month for eligible non-Tribal households and up to $75 a month for eligible Tribal households on monthly broadband services. It also offers a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a connected device, such as a PC, laptop, or tablet. However, wireless companies that participate in ACP get to decide which benefits to offer. While all ACP companies offer discounts on internet services, only a few offer discounts on devices. The ones that do, tend to offer tablets. Since the program offers limited funds, the ACP providers that offer discounts on tablets only offer entry-level to mid-range Android devices.
Luckily, there are a few extra generous ACP companies that also offer free government iPads.
Note: The ‘free’ iPads that we keep mentioning are not completely free of charge. According to government rules, a customer must pay a co-pay of at least $10 and no more than $50 to receive the device.
What is the Process of Receiving a Free Government iPad?
So how do you get a free government iPad? Do you simply visit one of the providing online stores and grab your order? Well, yes and no. Before you can do it, you must follow a strict and detailed process.
- Step 1: You must qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program. Check out the eligibility criteria below.
- Step 2: As claiming that you’re eligible obviously won’t do, you must also gather documents that will prove it. See the acceptable documentation below.
- Step 3: You must apply for the government Affordable Connectivity Program. Learn how below.
- Step 4: Find a company that offers free government iPads and apply for their services.
If this sounds a bit overwhelming and you don’t know where to start, don’t worry, as we will explain every step in much greater detail in the following sections.
How to Qualify for a Free Government iPad?
To receive a free government iPad, you must qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program. To do so, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor.
- You must be the only applicant in your household (as the benefit is limited to one person per qualifying household).
- You must be a resident of one of the states where your selected provider offers its services.
- You must meet at least one of the universal FCC-established eligibility criteria below:
- Your annual household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
- You or any other member of your household participate in a qualifying federal assistance program, such as:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- 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
- You or any other member of your household participate in a qualifying Tribal assistance program, such as:
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Head Start (only households meeting the income qualifying standard)
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Your household received the Federal Pell Grant in the current award year.
How to Prove My ACP Eligibility to Receive a Free Government iPad?
After you review the ACP eligibility criteria and make sure that you qualify, you must also convince the authorities of your eligibility. To do so, you will be asked to provide copies of certain valid official documents that contain all the vital information.
To prove your income-based eligibility (point ‘a’ above), you will be asked to provide a copy of an official document that includes your full legal name and 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, or a similar official document showing your income
- Prior year’s state, federal, or Tribal tax return
- Unemployment or Worker’s Compensation statement of benefits
- Veterans Administration statement of benefits
To prove your program participation-based eligibility (points ‘b’ to ‘d’ above), you will be asked to provide a copy of an official document that includes your full legal name, the name of the program, the name of the issuing institution, and an issue date within the last year or a future expiration date, such as:
- Approval letter
- Benefit award letter
- Benefit verification letter
- School documentation
- Statement of benefits
Additionally, you may be asked to verify your identity, age, address, duplicate address, and emancipation (if you are an emancipated minor).
You will be required to provide copies of these documents during the application process, as such, you may want to prepare them in advance.
How to Apply for the ACP Program to Get a Free Government iPad?
To receive a free government iPad through the ACP program, you must apply for the benefit. You can first apply through the National Verifier and then through a selected company. Alternatively, some companies allow you to apply directly through them and you can skip the application through the National Verifier.
Method 1: Apply Through the National Verifier Online
To do so, go to nv.fcc.gov/lifeline/?amp;awsl=link-from-how-to-apply&ebbp=true&id=nv_flow&ln=RW5nbGlzaA%3D%3D and fill out the online application form. At the end of each page, press ‘Next’, and submit the form at the end. This way you may receive immediate approval in a matter of minutes.
Method 2: Apply Through the National Verifier Via Mail
To do so, print out a paper application form at affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/ACP-Application-Form-English.pdf and print out a Household Worksheet (optional but recommended) at affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/lifeline/images/ACP-Household-Worksheet-English.pdf. Complete both forms, add physical copies of your proof documentation, and send the package to ACP Support Center, PO Box 7081, London, KY 40742.
Method 3: Apply Through a Selected ACP Provider
Some ACP companies may even allow you to apply directly through them without applying through the National Verifier first. To do so, you must find a company that offers free government iPads in your area. You can search for all the providers in your state at affordableconnectivity.gov/companies-near-me, but note that not all of them offer discounts on devices, let alone iPads. You can see a list of all the ACP companies that currently offer free iPads in the following section.
What Companies Offer Free Government iPads?
While most ACP companies that offer free tablets don’t reveal the available models in advance, AirTalk and both of its affiliate companies (Cintex and NewPhone – listed below) are not only very straight-forward about their offers, they also enable eligible customers to choose the tablet that best fits their needs.
In addition to free service plans with monthly talk, text, and high-speed data, the company also offers free smartphones and free government tablets (including iPads). You can see their list of government-discounted tablets at airtalkwireless.com/tablet.
To apply, visit airtalkwireless.com/apply, enter your ZIP code, press ‘Apply Now’, choose the plan, and follow the prompts to complete the application form.
Note: Only eligible households residing in Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, or Wyoming can apply.
Just like AirTalk, Cintex also offers free monthly service plans, free phones (flip phones, Android smartphones, and iPhones), and free government iPads and other tablets. You can see the company’s selection of free tablets at cintexwireless.com/tablet. The prices of tablets start at $10.01.
Begin your application process by visiting cintexwireless.com/apply, entering your ZIP code, and following the on-screen prompts. If approved, you will be notified via email.
Note: Only residents of the following states can apply – Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Finally, NewPhone Wireless also offers free unlimited plans, free cellular phones, and ACP tablets from top brands, such as Samsung and Apple. See the company’s current selection of tablets at newphone.com.
Enroll in the company’s government assistance program at newphone.com/apply. Simply enter your ZIP code and press ‘Apply now’. If the provider operates in your area, you will be redirected to your state’s offer. There you can choose the plan and fill out the form.
Note: Only households residing in Louisiana and Wyoming can currently apply.
In addition to these companies, there are also some other ACP providers that offer free government tablets, however, they do not reveal which tablet models customers can receive in advance. As such, the tablet you receive may be an iPad or an Android device. These companies include:
- Q Link Wireless
- StandUp Wireless
- Easy Wireless
Which Free Government iPad Models Are Currently Available?
Many ACP companies are mysterious about their tablet selection. However, the ones that are open about it currently offer the following free government iPad models:
- Apple iPad Air
- Apple iPad Air 2
- Apple iPad Mini
- Apple iPad Mini 2
- Apple iPad Mini 3
- Apple iPad 3
In addition, customers can choose from several other Android tablets, including high-quality models from Samsung, Alcatel, and KonnectOne.
Is it Possible to Replace a Free Government iPad?
Whether or not you can replace your free government iPad in case it got lost, stolen, damaged, or broken depends on the company that provided you with the device and its policies.
For instance, AirTalk, Cintex, and NewPhone Wireless all offer a 15-day limited warranty on their devices and a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. However, you can only receive a replacement device during this time if the original item started malfunctioning on its own, without you having misused it. These warranties also don’t cover loss or theft. Still, if your device got physically damaged, lost, or stolen, you can still contact the company’s customer support service and ask for a replacement device for a small fee.
If you have received a free government iPad from any other provider, you must check its terms and conditions or simply contact its support team.
Is it Possible to Upgrade Free Government iPad?
Again, whether or not you can upgrade your free iPad depends on the provider. Normally, ACP providers don’t offer upgrade tablets. However, you can contact your company’s customer support service to make sure. Keep in mind that if you would get the chance to receive an upgrade, the device would be much more expensive than the original discounted one.
Can I Get a Free Government iPad Completely Free of Charge?
No. According to the government rules, you must pay a mandatory co-pay of anywhere between $10 and $50.
What Other Benefits Are Offered By ACP Companies That Offer Free Government iPads?
While only a few ACP providers offer free government iPads and/or other tablets (or sometimes laptops or desktop computers), they all offer discounts on monthly broadband services. In addition, the companies that also participate in Lifeline also tend to offer free phones.
Can I Get a Free Government iPhone?
Yes, however, only companies that also participate in the Lifeline assistance program offer free phones. While most ACP and Lifeline providers offer free mid-range Android phones, only a few of them offer free government iPhones, including AirTalk, Cintex, and NewPhone Wireless.