Ever since Obama initiated special support for those less privileged ones to more easily attain mobile phones, you’ve probably been hearing about free government phones. Well, the option of you or to be exact, your household getting a free government phone is still a valid option. The most common practice to go about this is by applying for the Lifeline Assistance program. However, in addition to Lifeline, there has been a new program launched as a result of coping with COVID-19 related situations. This one is called Emergency Broadband Benefit or EBB and it’s even more beneficial (higher value) than Lifeline.
So, when it comes to a free government phone and tablet, the above-mentioned programs are the best two options (in most cases the only two options). However, in case you are not eligible for either of the two supportive programs, you may explore special promotional deals (often include free phones or free tablets) offered by many carriers to new users.
Without any further ado, let’s dive in and take a closer look at the ‘free government phone and tablet’ topic.
How To Get Free Government Phone And Tablet
As mentioned in the introduction, there are two most common ways to attain a free government phone and tablet. We will take a closer look at each of those below. In addition, we will reveal another valid way to get a free phone and tablet.
Government EBB Program Free Phone and Tablet
EBB or Emergency Broadband Benefit is an FCC program set in place to assist families/households that find it challenging to afford internet access. This new benefit is not available to everyone, just to those who meet the eligibility criteria. That way it gives households a chance to connect to jobs, critical healthcare services, virtual classrooms, and a lot more. Life without an internet connection was hard even before the pandemic, however, now it is basically impossible to go on without a solid internet connection. And this is what EBB is all about.
Generally speaking, EBB doesn’t offer free phones and tablets per se. Instead, it offers a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Then it is up to the specific carrier that participates in EBB to offer special deals that include free devices. Furthermore, eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
Government Lifeline Program Free Phone and Tablet
While EBB came to life during the pandemic that started in 2020 and is set to be active only as long as there are still noticeable consequences due to COVID-19 present, the Lifeline program has nothing to do with the pandemic. Lifeline Assistance was set under Obama’s administration with a goal to help those with financial challenges to get connected.
Generally speaking, Lifeline comes in a form of a monthly discount of $9.25 towards telecommunication bills, either wireless, landline, or internet services. For eligible customers living on Tribal lands, the discount is higher and is $34.25 per month.
Again, the government doesn’t offer a free phone and tablet. It is again up to participating carriers to offer the most beneficial offers. Luckily, there is a wide range of wireless carriers nationwide that decided to specialize in offering services to Lifeline eligible clients. These carriers often offer free unlimited calls and text, while they tend to have a cap on mobile data. Moreover, the majority of them also offer a free smartphone. In some cases, free tablets have been offered lately as well.
Free Phone And Tablet from Charities And Non-Profit Organizations
The above two programs are your best bet for getting a free government phone and tablet. However, there are other options available. There are several charities and non-profit organizations that you can explore. Moreover, these organizations are more often than not nationwide and are more locally or regionally focused. As such, we cannot cover them in detail herein.
If you want to explore that option further, it is best to ask around your local school, church, or other official services that tend to dispose of this kind of information. In addition, you may also use a search engine (e.g.: Google) and type in ‘your area’ + ‘free phone/tablet charity’. Then go through the results and dig deeper.
How To Get Free Phone And Tablet From Government Under EBB Program
Now that you know that the EBB program is one of the best ways to get a free phone and tablet, we need to tell you how to go about things.
First, you need to know that not everyone is able to get EBB support. There are specific criteria set in place that need to be met. We cover these in the “Who Qualifies For Government EBB Program Free Phone And Tablet?” section below.
So, how to get a free phone and tablet from the government under the EBB program? For starters, we need to remind you that getting a free phone and tablet is not something that is given. The only thing that is given by the government is the specific monthly discount (as explained in the section above). So, it is completely up to the company (the carrier) that you decide to go with to offer special perks, such as a free phone and tablet. We also need to clarify that there is a very small chance of you getting both, a free phone and a free tablet. The more likely scenario is that you get one of the two (if any).
Once you ensure that you are eligible (see the section below), you need to apply. You can do this in three ways:
- Get in touch with a participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process. Some of them may have a simplified process set in place. However, in many cases, they will direct you to use one of the 2 options below.
- (1) Apply online by visiting fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit and clicking the “Apply Now” button or go directly to GetEmergencyBroadband.org, where you can also find participating providers near you.
- (2) Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application. If you have access to a printer, you can also print a copy from this link (getemergencybroadband.org/how-to-apply). Then return the filled out application form along with copies of documents showing proof of eligibility to Emergency Broadband Support Center, P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742.
In case you are using method (1) or (2), you will have to contact a participating provider to select an eligible plan after you apply.
Who Qualifies For Government EBB Program Free Phone And Tablet?
A family/household is eligible if a member of that household meets one of the criteria below:
- Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
- Is 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;
- If they received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
- If they experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020, and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
How To Get Free Phone And Tablet From Government With Lifeline Program
Lifeline is an older government-supporting program. While its monthly discount may be intended for various telecommunication services, it has had the most adoption by wireless companies. As such, there are countless wireless carriers focused on serving Lifeline eligible clients. Moreover, the majority of them offer free phones. As such, to get a free phone, you need to be eligible (as described below). Then you need to apply.
- Like with EBB, you may go directly to a specific Lifeline provider and apply through them.
- Alternatively, you may apply online by visiting Lifeline National Verifier (checklifeline.org/lifeline).
- Or apply via mail by sending your filled-out application (lifelinesupport.org/wp-content/uploads/lifeline/documents/LI_Application_NVstates.pdf) together with your proof documentation to Lifeline Support Center, PO Box 7081, London, KY 40742.
Who Qualifies For Lifeline Program Free Phone And Tablet?
There are two ways for a household to qualify for Lifeline support:
- Based on Your Income: You are eligible for Lifeline if your income is 135% or less than the Federal Poverty Guidelines. The guideline is based on your household size and state.
- Based on If You Use SNAP, Medicaid, or Other Programs: You can get Lifeline if you (or someone in your household) participate in one of these programs:
- Federal Assistance Programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- Tribal Assistance Programs: If you live on Tribal lands, you can get Lifeline if your household income is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or if you (or someone in your household) participate in:
- Any of the federal assistance programs listed above
- 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
- Federal Assistance Programs:
Keep in mind that you need to provide proof documentation in support of either of the two methods that make you eligible.
In case you also need information Free Government Cell Phones For Low Income
What Documents Are Necessary To Apply For Government Free Phone And Tablet?
In the sections above we’ve covered who is eligible for EBB and Lifeline. In order to ensure that users do not exploit these benefits, proper proof must be provided.
Proof Documentation For EBB:
Applicants can choose one of the following:
- Social Security Number
- Tribal Identification Number
- U.S. Driver’s License
- Other Government-issued IDs, such as a state ID
- U.S. Military ID
- Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
- You may also provide proof of participation in any of the programs that make you eligible (this can be a copy of a membership card (if applicable) or a letter issued by that organization proving your participation).
Proof Documentation For Lifeline:
- To show proof of income: (one of the following)
- a tax return
- three consecutive pays stubs
- Prior year’s state, federal or Tribal tax return
- Current income statement from your employer or a paycheck stub
- Veterans Administration statement of benefits
- Unemployment or Workers’ Compensation statement of benefits
- Federal or Tribal notice letter of participation in General Assistance
- Divorce decree, child support award, or other official document containing income information
- To show proof of participation: (one of the following)
- Benefit award letter
- Approval letter
- Statement of benefits
- Benefit verification letter
- You must also provide a copy of a document that proves your identity (that you are a real living person, your date of birth, your address, and your social security number or tribal ID number). Here are some suitable document examples:
- Government, military, state, or Tribal ID
- Birth Certificate
- Driver’s license
- Government assistance program document
- Certificate of U.S. Citizenship or Naturalization
- Permanent Resident Card or Green Card
- Social Security Card
- Most recent W-2 or tax return
- Government, military, state, or Tribal ID
- Government assistance program document
- Military discharge documentation
- Unemployment/Workers’ compensation benefits
How Do I Send Documentation?
Both EBB and Lifeline follow the same principles here. In case you are applying online, you will need to submit the copies (either scans or decent quality photos) of your documents. The online application process will guide you and tell you when and how exactly to upload the files.
On the other hand, if you decide to apply via mail, you will need to attach hard copies of your documents to the filled-out application, and put them all in the same envelope.
In case you are applying via a specific carrier, make sure to contact their support and ask how you should provide the necessary documentation.
What Are The Benefits You Get After Qualified For The EBB Program And Lifeline Program?
The given benefits for both programs come in a form of discounts, which are as follows:
- EBB Benefits:
- A discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households.
- A discount of up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands.
- Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
- Lifeline Benefits:
- A monthly discount of $9.25 towards telecommunication bills, either wireless, landline, or internet services.
- For eligible customers living on Tribal lands, the discount is higher and is $34.25 per month.
The above are given benefits (provided by the government). However, there are many wireless carriers that decided to take the basic discounts to the next level for both EBB and Lifeline eligible customers. As such, a free government phone and tablet may be attained in some cases. When it comes to EBB, even free or highly discounted laptops or PCs may be offered.
How To Get A Free Phone And Tablet For Low-Income Families From Charities And Non-Profit Organizations?
As explained previously, there are many charities and non-profit organizations that focus on providing those financially challenged with free phones and tablets. Though keep in mind that laptops and PCs tend to be of higher priority. Many of these organizations are smaller and thus locally focused. In some cases, these can be local schools or churches. As such, use the instructions provided in the “Free Phone and Tablet from Charities and Non-Profit Organizations” subsection above to find the best option for you.
Moreover, keep in mind that every organization tends to have its own rules and policies on how to get a free phone and tablet As such, you will need to visit their website or call them or their representatives to attain further details.
There are also some international organizations offering free tablets and computers. One of them is the Salvation Army USA. You can visit their official website (salvationarmyusa.org/usn) and reach out to their support in your local area.
When exploring the option of getting a free phone and tablet from non-profits or charities, you need to keep in mind that students have the best chance of getting a free device.
What Are The Best 10 Companies That Offer Government Free Phone And Tablet?
Before we take a closer look, keep in mind that while free phones may be very commonly offered by the Lifeline-focused carriers, free tablet deals are rarer. However, you may always reach out to the company that offers Lifeline support and ask if they also offer free tablets. It doesn’t hurt asking, right?
As such, we decided to list the top 5 companies offering Lifeline support (the ones that offer free devices as they are basically fully devoted to the Lifeline-eligible customers) and the top 5 companies offering EBB. Also, please keep in mind that some of the companies listed below operate in multiple states, while others cover only a smaller amount of states.
Top 5 companies offering Lifeline support
Top 5 companies offering EBB
- Mint Mobile, LLC
- Metro by T-Mobile
To located all participating carriers near you, use the links below:
- For Lifeline: https://www.lifelinesupport.org/companies-near-me/
- For EBB: https://data.usac.org/publicreports/CompaniesNearMe/Download/Report
What Are The Best Free Government Free Phone And Tablet?
When it comes to free devices offered to users via Lifeline, there is no way to determine what exact devices you can expect. It is completely up to the carrier to choose the device they are willing to offer you for free. However, as a guideline, you may expect to get an entry-level or if you are lucky, a mid-range level smartphone. The best-case scenario would include you getting a model in that range produced by a reliable company, such as LG or Samsung.
On the other hand, EBB offers you up to $100 to be used for a device purchase. This amount alone tells you that you should expect the latest devices to be accessible as those can cost even more than $1,000. In this case, you get to choose the device you want; however, if you want the EBB to fully cover the cost of the device (so that it is actually free), you will need to stay within that budget.
To further assist you, make sure to check out the list of some reliable phones that are under $100:
- Alcatel 1B
- Nokia 2.1
- Motorola Moto e. Large 6.2-inch screen
- Samsung Galaxy A01. 12MP camera
- AGM M6 rugged phone
- Ulefone Armor X6
- Oukitel C16
- Cubot Note 7
Tablets under $100:
- Lenovo Smart Tab M8
- Amazon Fire 8 HD
- Samsung Galaxy Tab E Lite
- Amazon Fire 7
- Vankyo MatrixPad Z1
- Dragon Touch 7-inch Tablet
- Alldocube iPlay 7T
- Emerson EM756BK Android
What Are Lifeline Rules For Free Phone And Tablet?
Whether you apply with a carrier that will offer a free phone and tablet or not, Lifeline follows the same set of rules. They are as follows:
- Lifeline is only available to subscribers who can prove their eligibility. When you apply for Lifeline, you must show proof of participation in a qualifying program or proof of income.
- Every year, USAC will check to confirm you still qualify.
- If you change your address, no longer qualify for Lifeline, or more than one person in your household gets Lifeline, notify your company within 30 days.
- Only one discount is allowed per household, where a “household” is a group of people who live together and share income and expenses.
- If your Lifeline service is free, you must use it at least once every 30 days to maintain your service. If you don’t, you will get a 15-day notice to use it or it will get turned off.
- It is against the law to lie on any Lifeline-related forms or questionnaires.
Government Phone And Tablet Others Thing You Should Know
Can anyone get a government phone and tablet?
No, only eligible households. See details in the “Who Qualifies For Government EBB Program Free Phone And Tablet?” and the “Who Qualifies For Lifeline Program Free Phone And Tablet?” sections above.
Are ‘free’ phones and tablets really free?
In the case of Lifeline, they (phones) are really free. In the case of EBB, you can receive up to $100 toward your device purchase. So if your device is less than that, it is really free.
Can I get free cell phone service for life unlimited everything?
No, there is no such thing offered by the government programs. There might be such special deals offered by particular companies in case they are running a special promotional deal. However, the ‘for life’ part is really not something you should expect.
Which carriers have the best free government phones and tablets?
Currently, only Qlink offers free phones and tablets. However, there are other great options. For more details see the “What Are The Best 10 Companies That Offer Government Free Phone and Tablet?” section.
Does Qlink offer a free phone and tablet?
Yes, Qlink does offer free phones and tablets. However, you need to choose among the two, you can’t get both. Read more Does Q Link Wireless Offer Free Tablets?
Does StandUp wireless offer a free phone and tablet?
No. StandUp wireless offers only free phones to eligible customers. Read more Can I Get StandUp Wireless Free Tablet
Does Assurance offer a free phone and tablet?
Unfortunately, Assurance currently doesn’t offer free tablets. It only offers free phones. Read more Does Assurance Wireless Offer Free Tablets?
Can I get a free iPhone under the EBB program?
Since up to $100 is offered towards device purchase, you may be able to get an iPhone but only if they offer an older and refurbished model. New iPhones are a lot more expensive. Read more How To Get A Cintex Wireless Free iPhone
Does the government offer free touch screen phones?
If we want to be strict, we must tell you that the government doesn’t offer free devices; they only financial support for your services. However, there are many carriers that took things to the next level by using the government’s support and offering free devices in return. And yes, in those cases free phones most often come in form of touchscreen smartphones.
Can I get a free phone and tablet online?
Yes. Most carriers that participate in the Lifeline or EBB have the option to enroll online set in place.
Can I upgrade my government phone and tablet?
It depends on the carrier you go with. Those that also sell devices will normally give you an option to upgrade your free device.
Can seniors get a free phone and tablet?
Of course. Seniors may also be eligible for Lifeline and EBB if they meet the eligibility criteria. Moreover, occasionally some providers offer special deals for seniors that may include free devices.