Getting a Free Tablet From Government: Apply Now in 2024

There are two main government programs that offer free-to-low-cost tablets or internet devices to households that meet certain income eligibility rules. The first is the Federal Lifeline Assistance Program and the second is the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) which helps subsidize internet service and connected devices. We’ll explore how these programs work, who’s eligible, and how you can apply to get your own tablet for free in 2024 through Lifeline and ACP. Getting approved for Lifeline typically includes access to a free smartphone but some providers also supply tablets. ACP funds can be used to purchase tablets, laptops, or desktop computers.

Why the Government Provides Free Tablets

With so many aspects of daily living transitioning to online access only, from doctor visits to job interviews to registering kids for school, the government recognizes the critical need to make connectivity accessible and affordable for everyone. By subsidizing internet service costs and supplying internet-enabled devices to lower-income households who may not otherwise be able to afford the expenses, the FCC aims to close the digital divide. Access to technology like a tablet opens up an array of opportunities from entertainment options to learning tools, allowing underserved groups to fully participate in our increasingly tech-driven society.

Government Programs Offering Free Tablets

The two main programs that offer free tablets currently are the federal Lifeline Assistance program and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) established in 2021.

Lifeline Assistance Program

For over 35 years, Lifeline has provided a discount on phone or internet service for qualifying low-income consumers to ensure all Americans have the opportunities enabled by affordable access to telecom services. More recently, Lifeline now allows program funds to be applied to standalone internet/data plans through participating providers. Some Lifeline companies supply enrolled households with free smartphones, wireless internet devices, or tablets. Consumers have the option to bring their own device or utilize one supplied by Lifeline.

Affordable Connectivity Program

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) reduces internet service charges by up to $30 per month and also issues a one-time discount of up to $100 for the purchase of laptops, tablets, or desktop computers. The goal is to help close the digital divide by ensuring all citizens have access to essential internet services, devices, and advanced telecommunications.

Who is Eligible for a Free Tablet

Now that you understand the government programs subsidizing internet devices and services, you likely want to know – do I qualify for a free tablet? Here are the main eligibility factors for each program.

Lifeline Eligibility

To receive Lifeline benefits including a discounted or free tablet, you must qualify under income requirements OR participate in certain government assistance programs:

Income Requirements:

  • Household income at or below 135% of federal poverty guidelines
  • For a family of four, this equals $36,620 annual gross income

OR Participating in any one of these programs:

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance
  • Veterans Pension or Survivors Pension benefit

In addition to meeting one qualification above, applicants must provide documents to prove identity, verify address, demonstrate participation in a qualifying program (if applicable), agree to eligibility recertification processes, and have no outstanding debt to current Lifeline providers.

ACP Eligibility

ACP eligibility guidelines closely mirror Lifeline criteria but have been expanded to assist more people. You qualify for up to $100 off internet enabled devices if in your household:

  • Income is 200% or less than federal poverty guidelines
  • Participates in certain assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, WIC, Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit, or Lifeline
  • Participates in Tribal programs including Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Head Start (only households meeting applicable income qualifications), Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
  • Meets eligibility criteria for participating provider’s existing low-income internet program
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant in the current year
  • Experienced substantial documented loss of income since February 2020 with household income below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers

Similar to Lifeline, you’ll need to provide documentation proving identity, qualifying participation, address verification, and agreement to recertification of rules.

Required Documents

Now that you know the eligibility basics, you need to compile documents to verify identity and qualifications. Examples include:

  • Proof of Identity – Government ID, driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, etc.
  • Proof of Address – Lease or mortgage, utility bill, government program document with address, etc.
  • Proof of Income – Prior year tax return, current income statement, pay stubs, retirement statements, Social Security statements
  • Proof of Program Participation – SNAP/Medicaid/SSI award letter, Pell grant award notice, Housing assistance award letter

With documents in hand proving you meet eligibility for either Lifeline or ACP, you can now apply with participating tablet providers.

Participating Tablet Service Providers

If eligible for Lifeline or ACP, you can contact any participating telecommunications companies in your state and apply for subsidized internet service, and potentially a free tablet or discount on a computer. Every state has multiple provider options. Some of the most common national carriers participating include:

Reputable providers supplying discounted tablets and equipment include Alcatel, Amazon Fire, Apple, Lenovo, Samsung, ZTE and others. Avoid non-certified dealers attempting to take advantage of assistance programs or overcharge for devices or accessories. Always verify licensure through federal or state telecom authority websites.

How to Apply

You can apply for Lifeline or ACP benefits including free tablets or discounts on computers through either the government assistance program websites or directly through participating telecommunications companies.

Via Lifeline/ACP Program Website

  1. Visit to access the national Lifeline program application portal and for the ACP application.
  2. Click “Apply Now” button which will redirect you to the website to complete the application questions including proof of eligibility documentation.
  3. Submit all required identity verification, income, and program participation documents.
  4. Get notification of approval decision and next steps to start discounted services and order devices if applicable.

Via Individual Company Website

  1. Visit the website of any Lifeline/ACP certified provider you wish to get service through such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Spectrum, etc.
  2. Locate the Assistance Program section (usually in small print at the bottom or a tab like “Community Programs” or “Lifeline Support”).
  3. Access the subsidy application and begin enrollment questions including proof of eligibility.
  4. Submit documentation.
  5. Get decision on acceptance into program.
  6. Place tablet/computer order if the option is available.

Tips for Smooth Sailing

To maximize success applying for Lifeline or ACP discounts and free devices, keep these tips in mind:

  • Gather documentation early showing clear proof of eligibility under income or government assistance programs before starting any applications. No documentation means no approval.
  • Read all instructions carefully to submit full and complete details on all enrollment forms. Mistakes can delay decisions.
  • If asked for account PINs or government program IDs, make sure numbers are entered accurately.
  • Respond promptly to any requests for additional details or clarification.
  • Be thorough upfront submitting all details which will streamline approval.
  • Confirm device delivery timeframe if you will be receiving a free tablet, wireless access point, or discounted computer. Supply accurate address and contact info.
  • Save all documentation related to the application and approval process for future reference.

What Tablet Will You Get?

Device options will vary by provider but to set expectations, Lifeline/ACP participants can typically choose from tablet models like:

  • Amazon Fire HD 10
  • Alcatel Joy Tab Kids
  • Apple iPad 10.2” 32GB WiFi Only
  • Lenovo Smart Tab M8
  • LG K210DL 4G LTE
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab A8
  • ZTE Zpad Turbo

Many are higher memory, Android enabled, WiFi compatible tablets great for entertainment and education purposes. Shop provider offers carefully looking at device quality, attributes, retail value, and availability.

What Happens Next?

Once approved for Lifeline or ACP discounted internet and/or a tablet or computer, you’ll need to follow program rules to keep benefits active. Most importantly, confirm understanding of the specific internet data allowance your household receives per month. Once the allotment is reached, data speeds slow considerably. Track usage to supplement if needed through public WiFi hotspots, workplace connections, libraries, and community centers. Plus, learn to enable limitations on streaming, gaming, and large downloads to not burn through monthly data too rapidly. Enjoy your new tablet access but use smartly!

Recertify Benefits Yearly

Lifeline and ACP require participants to recertify benefits on an annual basis to confirm they still meet all eligibility rules. The programs are intended as a temporary aid so usage may be limited to a set timeframe for those whose economic conditions improve enabling self-procurement of internet services and devices.

You will receive advance notice from your participating provider outlining what preparatory steps you should take to supply re-verification documentation. In some cases, benefits are automatically renewed if it’s determined your qualifying status like Medicaid participation or housing assistance remains unchanged. Still confirm with your carrier if any further information is needed each year.

Failure to complete timely recertification can result in loss of discounted internet rates, slower speeds, suspended service, and potentially requesting return of provider supplied tablets or computers. Don’t let hard work securing much needed connectivity support go to waste. Calendar your renewal date, save notification emails and letters, and submit requested proof to your telecom quickly so low-cost access continues uninterrupted. Stay plugged into assistance programs keeping all technology advantages fully charged ahead.

Alternatives Beyond Government Subsidies

If you don’t meet eligibility rules for Lifeline and ACP federal assistance, explore alternatives to get affordable connectivity solutions:

  1. Request tablet donations from nonprofit technology charities supporting low-income families like PCs for People, Comp-U-Dopt, and EveryoneOn.
  2. Check for special low-cost internet offers reserved for senior citizens or veterans through providers. Restrictions apply.
  3. Inquire if your school district has programs allowing students without home internet to borrow tablets, WiFi hotspots, or computers over summer and holiday breaks. Availability limited.
  4. Search locally for tech device recycling programs open to public donations and collections for repurposed equipment to lower costs.
  5. Visit community centers, local religious congregation offices, libraries, or colleges offering internet WiFi access, computer labs, and free tablet lending options under certain conditions. Resources are limited so call first.

The Impact

A report by the Pew Research Center revealed 43% of households earning under $30,000 annually did not have home broadband services or could not afford a computer device. This means no access to apply for better jobs, complete homework assignments, attend telehealth appointments, or stay current on news and information. Lifeline, ACP, and other connectivity assistance initiatives bridge these technology gaps helping millions realize opportunities to learn, work, and thrive in the Digital Age ensuring users can reap benefits such as:

  • Complete high school, earn college degrees gaining skills for higher lifetime earnings
  • Grow small businesses using digital tools for accounting, inventory, marketing and ecommerce
  • Afford medical costs accessing telehealth services and managing conditions through wellness apps
  • Save money buying discounted insurance, securing government benefits, comparing prices on purchases
  • Build financial security through budget planners, online banking and investing opportunities
  • Maintain social connections through messaging, video chat, photo sharing improving mental health

Tablets open doors providing convenient access to information empowering people through education. As one recipient shared, “I have learning disabilities…now with my free tablet I can use helpful apps…I’m the first in my family going to college.” Technology brings light where once there was only frustration and limitations.

In Summary

Don’t remain on the disadvantaged side of the digital divide any longer. Find out today if you qualify for Lifeline, ACP, or another program supplying free-to-low-cost tablets, computers, and internet. Then get ready to connect with the world!


Do I have to pay any fees for a free tablet from Lifeline or ACP?

No. Approved programs participants should not be charged for the free tablet device itself. However, discounted internet service charges still apply unless your state offers additional subsidies.

Can I qualify for both Lifeline and ACP benefits at the same time?

Yes. If you meet eligibility criteria for both programs, you can enroll to maximize benefits getting discounted internet service rates AND a free tablet through Lifeline plus up to $100 off computing devices from ACP.

What broadband internet speeds come with Lifeline and ACP subsidized internet plans?

Speeds vary by provider ranging from 3-25mbps downloads and .5-10mbps uploads. Faster maximum DSL, Cable, fiber optic or fixed wireless options available for additional monthly fees.

Do I get to choose any tablet model I want if I qualify for a free device?

Not necessarily. Providers assign tablets or smartphones to program participants they have sourced from select manufacturers but options should cover essential usage needs. Ask carrier for details on device characteristics and model numbers before ordering.

Who can I call if I have issues with my free tablet or discounted internet service?

Always start with customer support at your assigned telecommunications provider supplied during enrollment. They will troubleshoot connectivity, data allotment, device, or account challenges as part of ongoing service management. If problems persist, contact federal program helplines at 1-800-234-9473 for Lifeline support and 1-877-384-2575 for ACP questions.