This article’s topic is very interesting and the provided information may prove to be very beneficial for some of our readers. But before we dive into it, let’s review the basic concepts.
So, first of all, why do some people need a free laptop?
Why Do People Need a Free Laptop?
Well, we live in a technological age in which certain electronic devices have become a basic need. We have relied heavily on cell phones, tablets, laptops, and computers for many years now. However, the pandemic has shown us that we need these devices even more than we realized. Children and students suddenly had to use laptops or other computers for education purposes (accessing virtual classrooms, writing assignments, reading studying materials, etc.). Workers relied on laptops for work and those who were unemployed needed them to search for a job. We also rely on laptops to stay in touch with loved ones, internet browsing, entertainment, and much more.
However, despite the fact that some laptops are relatively affordable these days, some households are still unable to afford them. Nonetheless, they need them just as much as the rest of us, if not even more.
As you will see below, luckily, the government is aware of this issue, and therefore, it launched a government assistance program that may help low-income families get a laptop free of charge.
What Are EBT And the Food Stamps Program?
Now, let’s take a closer look at what exactly is EBT and how it relates to the Food Stamps Program.
EBT is an acronym. It stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer. EBT is an electronic system through which the state welfare department can issue benefits via a magnetically encoded payment card to subscribers who are struggling to pay for groceries.
The EBT system and card are used by low-income people who participate in the Food Stamps Program, which is nowadays officially referred to as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.
With the EBT system and card, SNAP subscribers can pay for groceries (food items exclusively) with government-funded SNAP benefits. The EBT card can only be used in authorized retail stores and whenever it is used, the user’s SNAP account gets debited in order to reimburse to shop for the items that were purchased.
The EBT system is used in all the states and it is the only method of SNAP issuance throughout the U.S.
As only SNAP participants can use the EBT system, the phrase ‘EBT program’ actually refers to the ‘SNAP program’.
The Food Stamps program or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), on the other hand, is a government assistance program that helps low-income people purchase food. The items that SNAP participants can purchase in authorized stores with their EBT account only include food and nutrition. Any other non-food items, such as household supplies, cosmetics, medicine, supplement, or even hot meals, cannot be obtained with the SNAP benefits.
Is it Possible to Get a Free Laptop With EBT?
Now, let’s answer the main question. As SNAP or EBT only provides its subscribers with free food, it is not possible to receive a free laptop directly through the SNAP or EBT program. Nevertheless, participating in the Food Stamps program also qualifies all of its subscribers for certain other government assistance programs, such as Lifeline, for example.
Moreover, participating in the Food Stamps program also makes you eligible for the new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) that was launched during the pandemic to provide assistance in purchasing monthly internet services and connected devices, such as laptops.
Therefore, as you can apply for the ACP program due to your participation in the Food Stamps program and as you can receive a free laptop through the ACP program, you can, indirectly, get a free laptop with EBT.
The Process of Receiving a Free Laptop With EBT
The process of receiving a free laptop with EBT is quite simple but very strict. In order to get your free device, you must follow the steps listed below.
Step 1: Make Sure You Qualify for the SNAP/EBT Program and Prove It
The Food Stamps program that uses the EBT system is a means-tested program. Therefore, the applicant must meet all of the requirements listed below to qualify:
- Income requirements: A household is SNAP-eligible if it has a gross monthly income that is 130% or less of the federal poverty level.
- Work requirements: Applicants qualify if they work at least 30-80 hours a week. Students, caregivers of children under 6 and incapacitated people, disabled people, and people in drug rehabilitation must work 30 hours a week. Able-bodied adults from 18 to 49 who are not pregnant and don’t have dependents under 18 in the household are required to work, volunteer, join workfare, or do workforce training for 80 hours a month.
- Resource requirements: Households may have up to $2,250 in a bank account or other countable sources. If at least one person is age 60 or older and/or has disabilities, households may have $3,500 in countable resources. However, these requirements may vary between states.
- Housing expenditure: Housing is generally considered affordable when it costs 30% or less of total household income.
- Immigrant status eligibility: You may be SNAP-eligible if you are a legal immigrant that has lived in the U.S. for 5 years or more are receiving disability-related assistance or benefits or have children under 18.
- Student eligibility: Low-income students may also be SNAP-eligible.
To prove any of the above, you will be required to provide unexpired official documents that contain all the vital information and prove that you in fact meet the requirements above.
Step 2: Apply for the SNAP/EBT Program
To apply for SNAP, go to mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-snap-benefits-food-stamps. Scroll down and as you will see, you can apply online, by phone, by mail, by fax, or in person. Click the application method that suits you the best and follow the instructions. During the application process, you will be asked to provide your personal information and proof of your eligibility, therefore, make sure to prepare the documents in advance.
Step 3: Check Your ACP Eligibility and Prove It
Once you have applied for SNAP and if your application was approved, you can proceed to apply for ACP. As you, at this point, participate in SNAP, you are surely ACP-eligible. However, SNAP participation is not the only thing that can make an applicant ACP-eligible. A household also qualifies if its annual household income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines, if it has received a federal Pell Grant award in the current award year, or if a household member participates in any of the other qualifying government assistance programs, such as Lifeline, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, the Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, the Free or Reduced-price School Lunch Program, or certain Tribal Programs. Applicants must also be at least 18 years old or emancipated minors.
You can prove your ACP eligibility by providing your SNAP approval letter, benefit award letter, benefit verification letter, statement of benefits, or another valid official document that proves your participation in SNAP. Customers who qualify through other criteria must prove that as well.
Step 4: Apply for the ACP Program
You can apply for the ACP program through the ACP Support Center. You can do so online or via mail. To do it online, visit nv.fcc.gov/lifeline/?id=nv_flow&ebbp=true, create a new account and complete the application. To do it via mail, print out an application at acpbenefit.org/wp-content/uploads/ACP-Application-Form-English.pdf and a Household Worksheet at acpbenefit.org/wp-content/uploads/lifeline/images/ACP-Household-Worksheet-English.pdf (optional). Complete both forms, add copies of the proof documentation, and send the package to ACP Support Center, PO Box 7081, London, KY 40742.
Step 5: Find a Company That Offers Free Laptops With EBT in Your Area and Apply for It
Finally, if your ACP application gets approved, find a company that offers free laptops with EBT in your area. Indeed, you can only receive ACP benefits from providers that offer free services or devices in your state of residence. Once you find such a company, visit its website apply online or contact them to ask about the application process. If your application gets accepted, expect to receive a free laptop in a matter of days (depending on availability, your location, etc.).
Companies That Offer Free Laptops with EBT
Not all ACP providers offer free laptops. Some offer discounts on tablets or desktop computers instead. Moreover, most ACP providers do not offer discounts on internet-connected devices at all, but only offer discounts on monthly internet services. You can see a list of all ACP providers in your state at fcc.gov/affordable-connectivity-program-providers. Note the ones that have a tick under ‘Offering Connected Devices’ and contact each of them to ask if they offer a free laptop with EBT.
You can also contact the following companies and possibly receive a free laptop:
- PCs for People. This organization offers an ACP discount on laptops and desktop computers (refurbished) as well as a discount on internet services. To apply, visit acp.pcsrefurbished.com/acp and fill out their application form.
- Human I-T. This non-profit offers ACP discounts on laptops, monthly services, and hotspots. To sign up, human-i-t.org/acp/ and complete the application form below.
The following organizations are not actual ACP providers, however, they do offer free laptops for people in need and your SNAP/EBT participation definitely proves that you are a person in need:
- Computers with Causes. Enroll by visiting computerswithcauses.org/application/ and filling out the application form.
- Alliance for Technology. Visit aftrr.org and contact them to apply.
- EveryoneOn. Apply at everyoneon.org/lowcost-offers.
- The On It Foundation. Enroll by sending an email to [email protected].
- Microsoft Registered Refurbished. Start the application process at devicepartner.microsoft.com/en-us/communications/comm-microsoft-refurbisher-programs.
- Smartriverside. To apply, go to smartriverside.org/ or contact the provider at [email protected].
- Technology for the Future. Enroll by contacting the organization at sup[email protected] and ask if you can receive a free laptop with EBT.
- World Computer Exchange. To enroll, go to worldcomputerexchange.org/get-involved/get-computers/ and fill out the company’s online application form.
Is There Another Way to Receive a Free Laptop?
In case you don’t qualify for SNAP, you won’t be able to receive a free laptop with EBT. However, there are luckily some other ways to receive a free laptop, including:
- From a charity or non-profit organization. Many organizations, including the ones listed above, as well as Adaptive.org, With Causes, Freecycle, and others offer free laptops for people in need.
- From a church.
- From a library.
- From a school or college.
Free Laptop EBT Related FAQs
Are ACP Laptops Really Free?
No. According to government rules, ACP providers can only provide a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a device, however, the customer must pay a mandatory co-pay of $10 to $50.
Can I Get a Free Tablet With EBT?
Yes, ACP providers not only offer free laptops but free tablets and desktops with EBT as well.
Can I Get a Free Phone With EBT?
Yes. Participating in SNAP/EBT also makes you Lifeline-eligible and Lifeline providers offer free phones.
What Are the Other Benefits of Participating in the Food Stamps Program?
Directly, participating in SNAP provides you with free food. Indirectly, it also makes you eligible for some other assistance programs, through which you can receive other benefits.
Can I Get Both a Free Laptop With EBT and Free Internet Services?
Yes, ACP providers that offer free laptops also offer free internet services.
Can I Replace My Free Laptop if Damaged or Not Working?
It depends on the provider. Some offer a 14-day warranty or a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Do Any Other Government Assistance Programs Offer Free Laptops With EBT?
No, the only government assistance program through which participants can hope to receive a free laptop with EBT is ACP. However, as you can see above, there are also some other, non-government ways to receive a free laptop.