If a poor person does not have internet access, that can trap them in poverty for a long time. Without the internet, it is harder to look for and apply for a job. Not having a phone can be even worse.
On the plus side, the government offers assistance to people who can’t pay for internet access. You can get cheaper or free internet access or phone service through government programs.
Some of these are COVID-19 programs, so they might not last forever. Even if the pandemic continues for a long time, these programs might run out of money and disappear before then. You should find out more about these programs and apply for them before they run out of money.
Someone with a low income might also have trouble affording a device. Government programs can help you. The government has recently been offering free tablets to people with low incomes.
You can look for work more easily if you get both a tablet and free broadband internet access. Even if you have very little money right now, you can still get a tablet, high-speed internet, and a phone through federal programs.
Does The Government Really Offer Free Tablets?
Yes, the government may be able to help you out with an almost free tablet and free internet access in many places. It depends on how many companies nearby participate in the government programs and whether or not you are eligible.
Free phones, phone service, broadband internet access, and almost free tablets are all available from different government programs. You cannot get a free laptop or desktop from the government, but you can get a discount on the purchase of one.
The standards of eligibility are not very strict. These are fairly generous government programs. Even if you think you might not be eligible, the government might be able to help you. You do not have to be below the poverty line – you can be a fair bit above it and still qualify based on your low income.
Since some of the programs could run out of funding and end sooner than you expect, you should get a tablet while you still can.
How Do You Get A Free Government Tablet?
One way to get a tablet is through the Electronic Broadband Benefit (EBB) program. The EBB program launched in May 2021 to help people with financial difficulties get through the pandemic. It is not only for those directly affected by Covid-19 but for anyone who meets certain financial criteria.
Signing up for the EBB program is easy. If you are eligible, you only have to fill out a few forms, and you will be approved. Signing up for some government benefits is a huge hassle and makes you feel like they want you to give up.
However, signing up for EBB is not anything like signing up for disability benefits or anything else that requires a lot of paperwork. You will only submit a small amount of information and a few documents. If you are already receiving benefits through lifeline or many other programs, it is even less of a hassle.
The EBB program is there, in part, because the pandemic makes internet access more important than ever. The internet is more of a necessity than ever before, especially with so much work being done online. People and their kids go to school online, shop online, seek employment online, and you can’t do any of these things if you do not have internet access.
The EBB program is very popular – millions of households have received assistance through it since its launch in May. The program can either pay for the full cost of a tablet and internet connection or provide a discount if you buy more expensive devices/services.
The available discounts are:
• $50 per month towards internet access
• $75 per month towards internet access on tribal lands
• $100 per month towards a new desktop, laptop, or tablet
If you want to purchase a new computer/tablet, you have to pay $10 of the price yourself. So, the EBB program tablets are not quite free. You can pay as little as $10 for a tablet that costs $100, but it is not quite free. The internet access is free – if it costs $50 per month or less, you don’t have to contribute anything.
You also cannot contribute more than $50 to the device you want to buy yourself. For example, you cannot buy a $500 laptop for $400 using the EBB program discount. It is only for low-cost devices, usually meaning tablets and not a way of getting a new computer for a lower price.
You can only get the benefits once per household. The EBB program will not pay for a new tablet for everyone in the family. While you can keep getting money for internet access every month, the discount for a new tablet is a one-time thing.
The lifeline program can also help you. The lifeline program is best-known as a government program that provides discounted phone service. It has been around since 1985 and offers a $9.25 per month discount.
You can get a discount either for a landline or a wireless service. It is for low-income people, but you do not have to be below the poverty line to qualify.
Many companies also offer free tablets to people who are lifeline benefits. You can also automatically get the EBB discount if you are on the lifeline program. People who are approved for many other government programs also automatically qualify for EBB money.
In case you also need information Free Internet For Students
Who Qualifies For Free Government Tablets?
While free tablets are not for everyone, millions of people have received benefits through these programs. Don’t make the mistake of falsely assuming you don’t qualify because your income is too high or for some other reason.
You May Qualify Through The Federal Government EBB Program
It is reasonably easy to qualify for the EBB program. The qualification standards are not very strict, and the benefits are not only for a few people.
You can be above the poverty line and still qualify. Anyone under 135% of the federal poverty line for their state has a low enough income. This is enough on its own to make you qualify for the program; you do not have to meet any other requirements.
Anyone who receives assistance from certain other government programs automatically qualifies for the Electronic Broadband Benefit, as well. Anyone who gets assistance through SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline always qualifies for the EBB program. Anyone who received a federal pell grant during the last year qualifies.
Those who are approved for free/cheaper school lunches or breakfast programs also automatically qualify for EBB. As long as your kids were on a school lunch program at some point in 2019, 2020, or 2021, you qualify.
You do not have to be directly affected by the pandemic to receive these federal benefits. While the EBB program is a COVID-19 relief program, you do not have to prove or claim or state that you lost your job due to the pandemic. You will not have to answer any questions about how the pandemic affected you.
If you lost your job and lost a significant amount of income in 2020/21, you may qualify for the program. Even if your income is still above 135% of the poverty line, you might qualify if you are living on significantly less income than before.
If your income was too high in 2020, you are not eligible for a free tablet due to job loss. If your income before taxes was over $99,000 (single filer) or $198,000 (joint filer), you made too much money to qualify.
You May Qualify Through Many Different Government Programs
There are many other government programs that qualify you for a free tablet automatically. Any of the following qualify you for the tablets discount:
• Section 8, Group Residential Housing, or Federal Public Housing Assistance
• The national student lunch program
• Head start
• Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
• Extended foster care
• Federal Pell Grant
• SSI or SSD
• Adult & Child Mental Health Case Management
• Employment Services (depending on which state)
• Food support
You May Qualify Through The Federal Government Lifeline Program
Anyone who is receiving lifeline benefits is also automatically eligible for a tablet. If you do not currently have internet access or much money, get a free government tablet.
You can keep in touch with your friends and family more easily, look for work, and work online if you have internet access. If you keep in contact with your friends and family, they may be able to find you job opportunities. Without the internet, you may miss out on chances to find a job that pays enough money.
Qualification Based On Total Household Income
Anyone whose income is below 135% of the poverty line for a family of their size in their state is eligible for a free tablet.
Qualification For Some Type Of Disability
Many people who have a disability are already receiving government assistance through another program. The other program may make you automatically qualify for the EBB program.
What Documents Are Required To Apply For Free Government Tablet?
Applying is easy if you already qualify for the EBB program because you are already approved for another government program. Send them a document with the following information:
• Your name
• The name of the program you are in (TANF, lifeline, ext)
• The name of the government or other agency that approved you for benefits
• The expiration date of your benefits
For school lunch programs, you need:
• A letter from the school showing a member of the household received benefits in 2019, 2020 or 2021
For application based on low-income, you need one of the following:
• State, federal or tribal tax return
• Social security statement of benefits
• Veterans administration statement of benefits
• Retirement/pension statement of benefits
• Other suitable documents containing income information
To identify yourself, you need one of:
• Social Security Number
• Drivers license
• Other government ID
• Military ID
• Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
How To Apply For A Free Government Tablet
To apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit, you must both 1) Apply for the program and 2) Contact a company that offers the program. You can either do everything online or mail your applications.
If you know of a company that participates in the Emergency Broadband Benefit in your area and that offers tablets and not only internet service, you can call them and learn how to apply. There will very likely be information about how to apply online, if there is not, you can call them.
You must also apply for the EBB program separately. Make sure you have the right documentation with you. It is faster and easier to do it online. If you want to apply by mail, you can call (833)-511-0311 and have them send you a mail-in application. You can also find the application online, print it out, and mail it. The mailing address is:
Emergency Broadband Support Center
P.O. Box 7081
London, KY 40742
You Can Use a Search Tool to Find Local Providers
The FCC provides a search tool that tells you what local companies offer the EBB program.
What Other Benefits Do The EBB/Lifeline Programs Offer?
As well as a free (or almost free) tablet, EBB will get you free internet access. You can have $50 per month towards internet access or $75 towards internet access on qualifying tribal lands.
This is entirely free – you do not have to contribute $10 towards it as you do with the laptop. There is also no limit on the cost of the internet service you apply your discount to. You are allowed to apply your discount to expensive internet service if you can afford to pay the rest of it.
What lifeline offers is a discount for your phone service, of $9.95 per month. You can use this either for a landline or for mobile phone minutes. You can also get a free phone through the lifeline program, although not through the EBB program. Reasonably modern touch-screen phones are available, though you can only get relatively cheap phones.
Which Companies Provide Free Government Tablets?
Dozens of different companies provide free tablets in each state. There are too many companies to list here. You can see a complete list at the FCC website.
Some large companies that provide free tablets in many places are:
• American Broadband and Telecommunications Company
• Boost Mobile
• enTouch Wireless
• Straight Talk
• Standup Wireless
• Q-Link Wireless
• Assurance Wireless
• Metro by T-Mobile
• Select Wireless
If a company offers free internet service, it does not always offer a discounted tablet. A lot of the biggest companies, such as AT&T, provide free internet access but do not provide free tablets.
Different companies participate in the program in different states. There is a complete list of what companies offer free tablets and/or free internet in each state.
Which Tablets Are Provided By Free Government Programs?
You are allowed to get any tablet you want for $10 as long as the price is below $110. If the price is between $110 and $150, you can get a tablet for $100 less than the price. You cannot apply the discount to tablets/laptops/desktops worth more than $150.
Some affordable tablets you can get through the program are:
• Lenovo Tab E10
• Amazon Fire 7
• Apple iPad 10.2
• Huawei MediaPad T5
• Huawei MediaPad T3
• Lenovo Smart Tab M10
• Qlink Wireless
Is There Any Alternative Way To Get Free Tablets?
Yes, there are many other ways to get a free tablet for people who have little money and even for people who do not necessarily have a low income. Free tablets are given away by charities and by many other groups of people.
One of the easiest ways to get a free laptop or tablet might be to ask your friends if they have any old electronics that they no longer use. Many people have computers, phones, or tablets that they don’t use and could not sell for much or anything. Your friends might see their out-of-date but still working electronics as junk that they would happily get rid of but don’t want to throw in the garbage.
You can also get cheap or free tablets through non-government programs that are not related to the EBB program. There is usually a small “catch,” but you can still get a tablet with a low income.
For example, adaptive.org will give you a free tablet if you have a low income, are a veteran, are a student, or have a disability. You will have to do 10 hours of community service to get the tablet.
Everyoneon offers tablets and internet access to people who make less than $35000 per year. It is easier to get a free computer or tablet if you have kids. Organizations like Komputers 4 Kids and world computer exchange can help you here. Possibly, you could get one tablet from the EBB program and another one from a non-government charity program.
Some people also get free tablets online by winning small contests. These contests are not necessarily worth it – it is cheaper to buy a tablet than to repeatedly spend money on raffles/lotteries until you win one.
Be suspicious of any company offering a free tablet/phone/computer if you do a few things for them. These offers are usually not easy to complete and may be a waste of time.
How Do You Fill Out The Application Form?
The application form is easy to fill out as long as you already have the necessary documents. Call the help line if you are having trouble. You need some basic information such as:
• Your full name
• Your social security number
• Your driver’s license number or some similar identification
• What government programs you are signed up for, if they make you eligible for EBB
• Your address
• Your income
You may also need to submit proof, such as tax documentation to prove your income.
How Do I Check EBBP Eligibility?
You can check eligibility for lifeline using online tools but have to check for EBBP yourself by looking at the criteria. If you enter your name, date of birth, social security number, and other information, the online tool will tell you whether you are eligible for lifeline benefits. For EBBP, look through the criteria carefully and apply if you are eligible.
Free Tablets Related Others Thing You Should Know
Do I Qualify for EBBP if I am a Lifeline Beneficiary?
Yes, anyone who receives lifeline benefits automatically qualifies for the EBB program. You cannot use both EBB and lifeline to get two free tablets. Households only qualify for one “free” government tablet.
Are Free Tablets Really Free?
Government tablets are not quite free. You will have to spend at least $10, even if the $100 discount covers the entire cost of the tablet.
While these tablets are affordable on a low income, they are not entirely free. You will have to pay $10 whether the tablet costs $100 or the tablet costs only $50. It is not easy to find a company that will pay the $10 fee for you.
Can I Upgrade My Government Free Tablet?
Yes, the tablet is yours after you buy it, so you can improve on it if you want to do this. The EBB program will not give you any money for tablets other than a one-time $100. However, you can do any upgrades you want as long as you pay for them yourself.
Can Seniors Get Free Tablets?
While many seniors are getting cheap tablets through EBB and lifeline, not all seniors qualify for these benefits. There are no special eligibility rules for people over the age of 65.
If you want a tablet, you must meet the same criteria as a younger person. If you have a relatively low income, are already receiving certain government benefits, or have a disability, you may be eligible.
If I Leave My Current Provider, can I Transfer My EBB?
Yes, you can transfer your benefits to a new provider. You do not have to stay with the same provider forever after you get money from the EBB program.
If you are already receiving EBB, this is easy to do. Call the new provider and tell them that you are part of the EBB program. You may have to cancel your service with the other provider before you transfer your benefits to a new one.
When will the EBB program end?
The EBB program might not end until six months after the official end of the pandemic. This might not happen for a long time. New cases and deaths in the USA as of fall 2021 are fairly high, much higher than they were months before. If the pandemic doesn’t officially end until well into 2022 or later, the program will be around for quite a while.
However, it will also end if it runs out of funding. The program has only a limited supply of money. The government might not add any more money to the program after the money runs out. We do not know whether the program is going to end shortly. It might be around for a long time.
What if My Social Security/Date of Birth/Identity Could not be Verified?
If you are having trouble, the best thing to do is call the EBBP helpline at (833) 511-0311 and find out what went wrong. You can also ask for help by e-mail at EBBHelp@usac.org.
If there is nothing wrong with your social security number or other information, there must be a solution to the problem. It is possible that you entered some information incorrectly. If you type one number wrong, your application won’t go through. Check your application carefully before you submit it.
I Am Under 18 Years Old. Can I Participate in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?
You can only get the EBB program once per household. You cannot get it yourself if your parents are already receiving benefits through the EBB program.
My Address was not Recognized. What do I do Next?
Again, calling EBBP center and asking for help is the best idea. You might be fine other than having entered some details of your address wrong.
Can Anyone Get a Government Phone?
The EBB program offers free tablets and free internet access, not free phones. However, there is a government program for free phones. As well as cheaper phone service, you can get a free phone through the lifeline program.
Can I Refer a Friend Who Qualifies?
No, everyone has to complete their own application. You can only help a friend fill out their forms, not refer anyone to the EBB office yourself. You can tell people you know about the EBB program.
Should I Get Expensive Internet Through the EBB Program?
Getting expensive internet might not be a good idea. If you apply the $50 a month discount to a plan that costs more than $100 per month, you might not be able to afford the service after the EBB program ends.