Nowadays, you can’t do much of anything without a computer at home.
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Whether you’re applying for a job, trying to do your taxes, or even attempting to contact local assistance programs; a computer is practically necessary.
While most of us are lucky enough to have laptop or computer at home, there are many of us who do not.
And it’s usually the people who need one the most that can’t afford to buy a computer.
Fortunately, there are a few programs available that provide free computers for low income families.
If you don’t qualify for a free computer, there are even more programs that allow you to purchase a computer at a very low cost.
It’s hard enough worrying about making ends meet.
The additional barrier of being unable to access applications and services due to lacking a computer makes things nearly impossible.
Perhaps you have experienced this.
Or, maybe you know someone who could use this information.
Either way, this guide will be incredibly helpful to so many.
How to Get A Free Laptop From the Government
The truth is that you can’t simply call the government and ask for a free computer, no matter what your circumstances are like.
A program like that simply doesn’t exist.
However, that doesn’t mean you are out of options!
There are some government-funded programs that provide low-cost computers or loaner computers to families and individuals in need.
Your best option is to connect with the following programs in your local areas.
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- Department of Social and Health Services: This government department can help connect you with local programs and non-profit organizations that can help you get the assistance you need.
- Visit https://www.benefits.gov/ to get access to many government benefits that you may qualify for.
- If you were impacted by one of the recent string of hurricanes or other national disasters in the United States, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov
While we wish there were government programs that could connect low-income families to technology, that infrastructure simply isn’t in place yet.
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Tip #1: Ask Your Employer or School
In today’s technology-driven society, it’s more important than ever to have connections with others via a computer.
That’s why so many employers and schools are jumping on the bandwagon and issuing free or discounted laptops to their employees and students.
Before you look into grants and other assistance for your laptop, I suggest you see what might be available to you through your employer or school.
There could be resources waiting for you, but they may not be things your job or school advertise heavily.
Several colleges give away laptops, or at least provide them at discounted costs so that every student can have access to them.
Or, you could talk to a guidance counselor about your need. Sometimes, colleges have special grants in place for needy students that could help you get a free laptop.
Your boss may also be willing to pitch in for a laptop if you’ll need one for work purposes and can’t afford it on your own.
It never hurts to ask!
Free Computers for Low-Income Families
Now, we won’t leave you stranded if your school or job won’t pay for your laptop!
Good people and organizations have picked up the slack and put together helpful programs for you to check out.
These programs are best for low-income individuals and families to get a free computer when they can’t afford one of their own.
provides free computers to individuals and organizations that are in need.
They have a strict application process, preferring that recipients are “truly in need” and that the computers will allow them to make a positive change in their lives and the lives of others.
The CTAC is a program dedicated to providing refurbished computers to needy individuals, including low-income families, but it also helps schools, libraries, and non-profits get the technology they need.
The program operates with donations of computers and laptops, which the CTAC wipes and refurbishes to give to someone else.
Individuals and families may qualify for a free computer if they’re currently receiving some type of government assistance, like Medicaid or Medicare, food stamps, or cash assistance.
If you don’t qualify for free assistance, you may still qualify for a low-priced computer, depending on your income.
Prices start at $100 for laptops and $68 for computers.
Craigslist may not seem like an obvious choice, but most people don’t realize that it has a free section for each city it serves.
It’s worth it to check to see if you can find a free laptop or computer.
I’ve seen one here or there that someone just wants to get rid of because they upgraded or are moving.
Even if it has something wrong with it, you may be able to find a tech-savvy friend to help you out and fix it.
EveryoneOn is a non-profit organization that provides free or low-cost internet services and computers to low-income families in 48 states and the District of Columbia.
The link above will take you to a map of all the nonprofit refurbishers and recyclers in the United States.
There are over 80 locations on the list, across the US, that provide computers and services to those in need.
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For example, the Electronic Access Foundation provides fully-functioning computers to communities in need.
Freecycle is a network of people and businesses who want to give away free things to people who might need them more.
The program operates around the world, so you might be able to find a working chapter near you.
You can use the website to browse the groups and see if anyone’s giving away a computer or laptop for free.
Members can also post Wanted listings where you can explain what you need and wait for others to respond.
The On It (Opportunities Necessary to Increase Technology) Foundation is a national nonprofit that provides free computers, computer training, and internet to low-income families.
To qualify, families should have a student in grades K-12 at a public school, that receives free or reduced lunch, and lives in the United States.
The World Computer Exchange is an incredible organization that has chapters all over the world.
Their mission is to provide computers to those in need.
However, they do have some stipulations for how the computers should be utilized.
Be sure to check out their website for all the details.
PCs for People began in 1998, and has grown every year since then.
In order to be eligible for one of the computers, a potential recipient must meet some criteria in order to qualify.
A recipient should either be below the 200% poverty level, have a family member with a disability, or work with a social worker.
Interconnection connects people in need with affordable laptops and desktops.
Though they are in the Seattle area, you don’t have to live there to connect with their services.
Their online store has low-priced desktops and laptops from brands like Apple, Dell, and Lenovo.
The National Cristina Foundation is dedicated to promoting technology reuse across the nation.
Over 100 organizations are members of the foundation.
The NCF works with the organizations to ensure that they are non-profits who will pass the technology along to individuals and groups who are in need.
The following resources are local resources, and are just examples of some of the many local programs available across the country.
The SCN offers no-cost and low-cost internet-ready computers to folks who need them.
Another resource recommended by the SCN is the Washington Access Fund, which provides access to low-cost computer resources to those in Washington State.
Komputers 4 R Kids is a resource specific to those in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas.
They provide computers to those who need them while also providing education to young people with their Student Repair Program.
If computers aren’t the only thing you need, the following organizations offer free services to low-income families and individuals.
- The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program provides nutritional assistance to women, infants, and children in need. They provide vouchers that can be exchanged for healthy food at grocery stores.
- Freedom Pop has a mission: to provide free mobile phone and internet service to those who need it. Visit their website to see what is available near you.
- Family Promise is an organization with national partners all over the country. They provide services to low-income families, like housing assistance, family mentoring, and financial counseling.
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Microsoft Registered Refurbishers is a program designed to help low-income families, charities, and other places in need get computers.
The program specifically provides refurbishers with Windows and Microsoft software for free to put on their refurbished laptops and PCs.
If you know of anyone who refurbishes PCs, you can point them in the direction of signing up for the program as a registered refurbisher for Microsoft.
They’ll then have the chance to help other people by getting free software for their computers!
You can also search the directory on the site to find out who refurbishes these computers, so you’ll know where you might be able to get one from.
This is a government assistance site that’s still in its beta phase, so it may or may not stick around.
For now, it’s here, and it’s a helpful resource for finding federal grants, awards, and other assistance programs.
Click on Search Assistance Listings and you can browse through various assistance programs, search by name, or use the filters to find what you need.
New federal programs and grants could pop up at any time, so it’s a good place to bookmark and keep checking back every once in a while, to see if there’s anything that might help you.
The town of Riverside, CA, is so devoted to helping its low-income families that it’s willing to provide a refurbished computer to low-income residents for free if they qualify financially.
Annual income for families much be $45,000 or less to receive a computer, and the family must also complete a free computer training course for eight hours before they receive it.
The course can either be in English or Spanish.
Things like this aren’t just available in Riverside, either. You might have a similar program in your own town, or in a nearby one that can help!
Your best bet is to check with your local welfare office and ask what resources might be available to help you and your family.
With Causes is a nonprofit organization designed to help various people in need, whether they have low income, a disability, or have faced some type of emergency or hardship.
The charity supports several causes and helps people in just about any way it can, including giving people in need a new vehicle, taking in abused women and children, or providing needy families with a computer.
If you can’t find a free computer by any other means and can’t afford one yourself, you can fill out the form on this website and explain your situation.
There’s no guarantee that it can help, depending on available funds, but it’s worth a try.
How to Get A Free Laptop for College Students
The OEDb has a great list of online colleges that offer laptops and iPads to their students.
While some of these are free, others are fee-based and the cost is included in your tuition.
Some of the colleges mentioned on the list are Rochester College, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Purdue University.
This nonprofit organization was created in 1998 by actual college students who recognized a need for free and reduced-cost laptops for their fellow students.
They have many resources, including free software for college students.
Though they have a strict and lengthy application process, Technology for the Future believes in our current and future generations.
There are no magic wands for you to wave when you need financial assistance, but there are a few fairy godmother organizations who want to help you out.
Free Laptops for People with Disabilities
People with disabilities may not have the opportunity to work, or they may be limited with the type of work they do.
Unfortunately, that means that they often have low incomes that make it difficult for them to support themselves and their families.
A new computer could be out of the question, especially if these individuals require special assistive technology to be able to operate it.
Fortunately, there are several ways people with disabilities may be able to get a laptop or computer of their own, thanks to the following grants and programs designed to help.
Check with Your Local Library System
I’ve heard about some libraries offering grants to people with disabilities and low incomes so that they can purchase a new laptop or computer.
If your local library has a website, you might be able to find information about its available grants there, or you can always call the main branch to ask.
Look for Charities That Help People with Your Disability
Disability-specific charities can often help people with that disability get what they need to function in society, including a new computer that can keep them connected with the outside world.
Visit Charities.org to browse available charities and find ones that may help you in your situation.
This site comes from the United States Department of Labor and offers valuable resources for anyone with a disability, including finding work, housing, or technology needed to have a comfortable life.
Since the resources available from the government can change each year, you might want to keep this site bookmarked for future reference, even if there’s nothing available right now.
There is a Technology section on here that could help you get what you need, including assistive technology to use a computer or technology you might need for a job.
GiveTech is a charity that doesn’t necessarily give away computers for free.
Instead, it helps those with disabilities get the assistive technology they need to be able to operate computers.
Those with missing or disabled limbs, for example, might be eligible to receive talk-to-text software that can help them communicate using a computer.
Eligible individuals must have a significant need for a computer (meaning that their lives could improve with the use of a computer), must be financially eligible for assistance, and must have a severe physical disability that impairs their use of a computer.
You can fill out the form on the website to apply for yourself or someone else.
Jim Mullen was a police officer for Chicago when he was shot and wounded in 1996, leaving him paralyzed from the next down.
Mullen was originally gifted technology known as Tracer by GiveTech, which gave him the ability to use the computer again just like everyone else.
After the incident, Mullen created this foundation, which helps those with physical impairments or disabilities get computers for free.
This organization focuses on improving the lives of elderly, disadvantaged youth, disabled individuals, and anyone else in need by providing important services they may not have access to otherwise.
A computer could be one of the gifts from the charity for eligible people.
One of the areas The Beaumont Foundation of America focuses on is education, ensuring that people all over the country have access to the resources necessary to move ahead in live.
Children and youth may be eligible for grant money from the organization, which is given away every year, and
The CAP is a program that provides assistive technology to individuals so that they can succeed in just about any work environment, regardless of their disabilities.
Some of the assistive technology the program can help you gain access to includes:
- Audio output devices
- Large computer monitors
- Screen magnifiers
- Educational software
- Assistive listening devices
- Headsets and microphones
- Alternative pointing devices
The program can’t assist with all technology, but it may be able to help you find a specific type of computer that could help you, depending on your disability and financial eligibility.
You can fill out an accommodation request form on the website.
Need Free Internet Access Too?
So, you ended up with a free computer or laptop (hopefully!), but you’re now concerned about affording the internet.
That can be a real problem, considering that internet tends to run at least $30 or more per month for anything faster than turtle speed.
Here are some helpful options for finding free or low-cost internet services, both in the home and outside the home, so your new computer won’t go to waste.
Use Free Wi-Fi Locally
There are probably several places you can visit within ten minutes of your home that offer free Wi-Fi for guests!
The library is a top personal pick of mine. It’s quiet, it’s comfortable, and being surrounded by books isn’t bad either.
My local library lets me sit for as long as I want and take advantage of its free Wi-Fi. It even has outlets so I can charge my laptop.
Another option is a restaurant or fast food place.
Most McDonalds restaurants have free Wi-Fi and comfortable places to sit that are perfect for housing a laptop.
Need more ideas? Check out this post about getting free internet services!
Check Out FreedomPop
FreedomPop is a service that gives free internet to eligible members.
Your location must qualify, and you can see if you’re in an eligible area by entering your zip code on the website.
FreedomPop will send you a free mobile hotspot to use for your internet connection.
You’ll get 10 GB of free internet for your first month, and then 500 MB of data the following months.
Get 10 Hours Free Every Month
The connections are dial-up, so they won’t be as fast as high-speed connections, but they’ll still do the trick when you don’t have extra money to spare on internet every month.
Look for Municipal Wireless Networks
Some locations have what’s known as a municipal wireless network, where the town or city has free wireless internet available.
You can see if your area has something like this by checking here.
You may be restricted to using it only a few hours a day, but it can absolutely come in handy when you don’t have internet access at home and still need it occasionally for school or work purposes.
Make sure to check out the organizations we highlighted on this list to see how you can get a free or low-cost laptop.
What local organizations have you worked with to get a free laptop?
Share your tips in the comments!
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