How to Get a Lifeline Free Tablet in 2023
How to Get a Lifeline Free Tablet in 2023. In todays digital age communication services have evolved into a basic necessity making it vital for everyone to stay connected. However not everyone can afford the luxury of smartphones or tablets.
This is where the Lifeline Program established by the FCC in the 1980s bridges the gap. This program is designed to assist low income households by providing discounts on qualifying monthly telephone service, internet service or bundled voice broadband packages.
This article will explore the ins and outs of obtaining a free tablet through the Lifeline Program and its associated benefits.
What is the Lifeline Program and How Does it Work?
The Lifeline Program is a government assistance initiative to make communication services more affordable for low-income households.
It offers eligible subscribers discounts on monthly telephone service, internet service or bundled voice broadband packages which can be obtained from participating wireless or wireline providers.
This program ensures everyone can access essential services like work, education, healthcare, emergency services and more regardless of economic status.
For eligible non-tribal families Lifeline provides a monthly discount of up to $9.25.
In contrast eligible households on qualifying Tribal lands can receive a discount of $34.25 on either wireless or wireline service. Some participating Lifeline providers even offer free or discounted cellular phones.
However its important to note that the Lifeline program is limited to one person per eligible household, and the benefit cannot be transferred to another household member or household even if they are eligible.
How to Get a Free Tablet Through the Lifeline Program
While Lifeline providers typically offer discounts on services and phones there is no direct provision for free tablets under the Lifeline program. However, there is a workaround for those seeking a free tablet.
Lifeline subscribers and Lifeline-eligible individuals automatically qualify for another government assistance program – the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
The ACP is a new long term government assistance program established by the FCC designed to help low-income households pay for broadband services and connected devices.
The ACP offers a discount of up to $30 monthly for internet service for eligible non-tribal households and up to $75 for eligible Tribal households.
Some ACP providers also offer a discount of up to $100 to purchase a tablet, laptop or desktop computer.
However, its essential to understand that according to FCC rules the connected device is not completely free of charge. Eligible customers must pay a co pay of more than $10 and less than $50 to receive the device.
Who is Eligible for a Lifeline Free Tablet or Phone?
To become a Lifeline subscriber and receive a free phone or tablet through the ACP you must be Lifeline eligible.
Eligibility can be based on income or participation in qualifying government assistance programs.
Here are the eligibility criteria:
Income-based Lifeline Eligibility
You are Lifeline eligible if your annual household income is 135% or less of the Federal Poverty Guidelines which can vary by state and household size.
Program based Lifeline Eligibility
You are Lifeline eligible if you or any of your household members participate in one of the following qualifying government assistance programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) also known as Food Stamps
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance (Tribal)
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Head Start (for households meeting the income qualifying standard)
Being Lifeline eligible also automatically makes you eligible to participate in the ACP. However there are additional criteria for ACP eligibility allowing you to receive a free tablet:
Income-based ACP Eligibility
You are ACP eligible if your annual household income is 200% or less of the Federal Poverty Guidelines depending on the state and household size.
Program based ACP Eligibility
You are ACP eligible if you or any household members participate in Lifeline or any qualifying government/Tribal assistance programs listed under the Lifeline program eligibility. Additionally a household is ACP eligible if it (or any of its members):
- Participates in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
- Participates in the Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, including at US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision schools
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
What Documents Are Needed to Apply for a Lifeline Free Tablet?
To become a Lifeline subscriber and qualify for the ACP you must provide documentation to prove your eligibility. The required documents can vary based on your eligibility criteria. Here is what you may need to provide:
For Income-based Eligibility:
- An official document proving that your household income is at or below 135% (or 200%) of the Federal Poverty Guidelines including your first and last name and annual income. Acceptable documents can include a current income statement from your employer, paycheck stub, prior year’s tax return, Unemployment or Workers Compensation statement, divorce decree or child support award.
For Program-based Eligibility:
- An official document demonstrating your participation in a government/Tribal assistance program, including your first and last name, program name, issuing establishment name and an issue date within the last 12 months or future expiration date. Acceptable documents include an approval letter, benefit verification letter, benefit award letter and statement of benefits.
You may also need to provide documents to verify your identity, date of birth, address or other personal information. These documents can include:
- An official document containing your first and last name and date of birth (e.g., birth certificate, government ID, driver’s license, passport) to verify your identity or age.
- An official document containing your first and last name and current physical address (e.g., utility bill, mortgage or lease statement W2 or tax return) to verify your address.
For emancipated minors a document proving their status such as a court document or a certificate of emancipation, may be required as Lifeline/ACP participation is typically open to US citizens aged 18 and above.
Most Lifeline/ACP providers allow you to submit digital copies of these documents during the application although mail in options are also often available. Its important to note that submitting copies, rather than originals is the standard practice.
How to Apply for a Lifeline Free Tablet or Phone
The application process for a Lifeline-free tablet through the ACP program is relatively straightforward. Here are the steps to follow:
Step 1: Determine Your Lifeline Eligibility
Being Lifeline eligible also qualifies you for the ACP program enabling you to apply for a free tablet.
Step 2: Find an ACP Provider in Your State
Not all ACP providers offer free tablets, so it’s important to identify an ACP provider in your state of residence. You can access a list of ACP providers by state on the FCC’s official website. Look for providers with an “Offering free devices” designation as they provide one time discounts. While some ACP providers offer tablets others may provide laptops, desktops or smartphones through the Lifeline program.
Step 3: Collect Required Documents
Gather the necessary documents to prove your eligibility and identity as these may be requested during the application process.
Step 4: Complete the Online Application
Visit the official website of the selected ACP provider and locate their online application form. Fill out the form by providing all the requested personal information and required documentation. Apply.
Step 5: Await Approval and Delivery
If your application is approved, you will receive a confirmation email within a few days. Your service discount will likely be applied to your next bill, and you can expect to receive your ACP/Lifeline free tablet within 7 to 10 days, depending on location and availability.
Which Tablets and Phones are Available Free of Cost Under the Lifeline Program?
While Lifeline providers primarily offer free or discounted phones, the specific phone models can vary. Typically, eligible customers can receive entry-level to mid-range Android smartphones or, in some cases older iPhone models.
Common Lifeline Free Phone Models may include:
- Alcatel Dawn
- Apple iPhone 6 (CDMA or GSM)
- Apple iPhone 6S GSM
- Apple iPhone 7
- Apple iPhone 8
- Blu Advance
- Kyocera Hydro Reach
- LG K30
- LG M150
- LG Stylo 4
- Motorola E5
- Motorola G Power
- NUU Mobile A3
- NUU Mobile A5L
- Samsung Galaxy A10
- Samsung Galaxy J3
- Samsung Galaxy S7
- Samsung Galaxy S9+
- ZTE Prestige 2
- ZTE Warp Elite N9518
Regarding Lifeline Free Tablet Models, ACP providers usually do not disclose the specific tablet brands and models in advance. However, most offer new or refurbished mid-range tablets with 4G connectivity and essential features. Some commonly received tablet models may include:
- Alcatel Joy Tab
- Lenovo Tab 5
- Lenovo Tab M10 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S7
- Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
- LG G Pad 5
- New Microsoft Surface Go 2
- Google Chromebook
- Fire HD 10 Tablet
- Apple iPad 2020
What Other Benefits Does the Lifeline Program Provide?
Beyond the potential for a free tablet or phone, the Lifeline Program offers additional benefits that can vary by provider and state. Generally, Lifeline providers offer free monthly telephone service, internet service, or bundled voice-broadband packages, which may include the following perks:
- Free telephone service with unlimited monthly texts, limited or unlimited monthly minutes, and unlimited monthly data (depending on the provider).
- A free Android (or, in some cases, iOS) smartphone.
Which Broadband Providers Offer Free Tablets Under the Lifeline Program?
As previously mentioned, Lifeline providers primarily focus on offering discounts on smartphones. ACP providers are the ones that offer free tablets, laptops, and desktops. Currently, no wireless provider offers Lifeline free tablets directly through the Lifeline program. However, since all Lifeline subscribers automatically qualify for ACP benefits, you can effectively obtain a free tablet through the ACP.
ACP providers regularly update their offerings based on device availability. At the time of writing, the following wireless providers offer ACP/Lifeline free tablets to eligible households and individuals:
Cintex Wireless is a Lifeline and ACP provider that offers ACP/Lifeline-free tablets. It is one of the few Lifeline providers offering free Android smartphones and iPhones. To apply, follow these steps:
- Confirm your Lifeline and ACP eligibility.
- Ensure you reside in a state where the company offers services and government assistance programs.
- Visit the Cintex Wireless application page and provide your ZIP code and email address. Click ‘Apply Now.’
- You will be directed to the company’s online application form. Fill it out by providing all the required personal information and supporting documentation. Submit your online application.
- If approved, you will receive notification within a few days, and you can expect to receive your ACP/Lifeline free tablet within 7 to 10 days, subject to availability.
NewPhone Wireless is an affiliate of Cintex Wireless, offering the same Lifeline and ACP benefits. To apply, follow these steps:
- Verify your eligibility and ensure you reside in a state where the provider operates.
- Visit the NewPhone Wireless application page and enter your ZIP code and email address. Click ‘Apply Now.’
- Once redirected to the company’s online application form, complete it by providing all the required personal information and supporting documentation. Submit your online application.
- If approved, you will receive a notification via email, and you can expect to receive your free tablet within 7 to 10 days, depending on availability.
Q Link Wireless
Q Link Wireless is a popular nationwide Lifeline and ACP provider. It offers free phone service with unlimited talk, text, and data and a new tablet at no cost. To apply, follow these instructions:
- Verify your eligibility (Lifeline and ACP-eligible) and ensure you reside in a state where the provider operates.
- Visit the Q Link Wireless website and click ‘Get It Now.’
- You will be directed to a sign-up page, where you should enter your ZIP code and email address. Click ‘Get It Now’ once more.
- You will be redirected to the company’s online application. Fill it out with the necessary information and documentation. Submit your application.
- If your application is approved, you will receive a notification email, and your ACP/Lifeline free tablet will arrive within a few days.
Another nationwide Lifeline and ACP provider that offers free tablets and other attractive benefits is StandUp Wireless. To enroll, follow these steps:
- Confirm your eligibility for their government assistance program and check whether you reside in a state where the company operates.
- Visit the StandUp Wireless application page and enter your ZIP code and email address. Click ‘Begin Application.’
- When redirected to the company’s online application, complete it by providing the necessary personal information and documentation.
- If approved, you will be notified via email and receive your free device within a few days.
Excess Telecom is a telecommunications company and an ACP provider offering free services and tablets. To enroll, follow these steps:
- Confirm your eligibility using the National Verifier at usac.org.
- Contact the company’s support system and express your desire to apply for their benefits.
- Visit the Excess Telecom website and enter your ZIP code. Click ‘Learn More’ and follow the prompts to complete the application form. You can choose your desired plan or apply for a free tablet or service.
- If your application is approved, you will be notified and receive the benefits shortly.
Maxsip Telecom is an ACP provider offering free services and tablets. To receive the benefits, follow these steps:
- Verify your eligibility for the ACP program.
- Visit the Maxsip Telecom application page and fill out the application form. Choose the service you wish to apply for and provide your personal information and documentation.
- Submit your application.
- If approved, you will receive a notification, and you will receive the benefits shortly.
It’s essential to note that none of these devices are completely free of charge. The FCC requires eligible customers to pay a co-pay of more than $10 and less than $50 to receive the device. Most providers charge slightly over $10 for this co-pay.
Which Broadband Providers Offer Free Tablets Under the ACP?
All of the providers listed above offer free tablets through their ACP program.
Are There Other Ways to Get a Free Tablet or Laptop?
In addition to obtaining a free tablet through the Lifeline or ACP programs, there are alternative avenues to receive a free connected device, especially for low-income households. Some options include:
- Seeking assistance from charities or non-profit organizations that provide free tablets or laptops, such as Accelerated Schools Organization, Causes or The Salvation Army.
- Exploring special deals and discounts offered by carriers and retailers.
- Contact your local school, library or church to inquire about any device donation programs.
- Exploring opportunities to become a reviewer or marketing agent for tech companies.
- Participating in online giveaways (while exercising caution to avoid potential scams).
Lifeline Free Tablet Related FAQs
Are Lifeline Benefits Available in All States?
Yes, the Lifeline program is available to eligible households in every state, territory, commonwealth, and Tribal lands.
Can I Choose a Lifeline Provider?
You can choose a Lifeline provider, but it must offer Lifeline benefits in your residence.
Can Anyone Apply for Lifeline?
No, only Lifeline-eligible individuals can apply for Lifeline benefits.
Will the War Have Any Effect on the Lifeline?
No the Lifeline program is unaffected by geopolitical conflicts and continues to operate as intended.
Why Is the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program Ending?
The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program has ended. It has been replaced with the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a new long term initiative aimed at helping low-income households access broadband services and connected devices.