The Lifeline Assistance Program was founded in 1985 by the Federal Communications Commission in the hopes of putting forth affordable low-cost communications solutions for people facing financial difficulties. It is one of the two main assistance programs sponsored by the U.S. Government for these purposes.
Among various Lifeline benefits, you can opt for a free phone along with a free mobile plan if you’re eligible. You may also get a $9.25 monthly discount on your broadband internet service and $34.25 if you reside in an eligible Tribal land.
But does Lifeline offer a free tablet? Initially, the answer to this question would be _no_, albeit we may need to qualify that. Worry not, for we will attempt to explain this in more detail in the next section.
Ways to Get Lifeline Free Tablet
As it stands, Lifeline doesn’t provide free tablets directly as part of its mission. However, the good news is that Lifeline-eligible people can enroll in similar assistance programs that do.
The most notable example is the ACP (Affordable Connectivity Program), which has a similar purpose to Lifeline, as well as roughly the same eligibility requirements, save for a few minor parameter variations.
In a nutshell, the ACP allows applicants to get a discount of $30 at most in their monthly plans ($75 for families living in Tribal lands). More importantly (at least for the purposes of this guide), they may obtain a free tablet of their choice.
Nonetheless, there’s a caveat: The tablet you’ll acquire will not be ultimately “free.,” as you’ll still be expected to pay a small contribution ranging from $10 to as much as $50.
The free tablet offerings bundled in the ACP packs are highly varied. The brand and model you obtain will hinge upon variables such as the provider, the area, and whether or not there’s stock at the moment you send your petition.
Eligibility for Lifeline Free Tablet
It should be stressed that those fit for Lifeline can also qualify for ACP and its corresponding free tablet. What’s more, they can benefit from both programs (Lifeline/ACP combo) at the same time without having to renounce any of them.
As of this writing, there are two main paths to choose from in order to be deemed eligible.
Lifeline demands that you receive a maximum of 135% of the federal poverty guidelines before approval. As of 2023, this represents $19,683 for a 1-person household. For ACP, the maximum is 200%, so you should have no issue applying if you already meet the Lifeline income threshold.
If you don’t fulfill the income-based eligibility conditions, you could still apply for ACP if you participate in any of the programs listed below (which also qualify you for Lifeline):
- SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
- FPHA (Federal Public Housing Assistance)
- SSI (Supplemental Security Income)
- Veterans & Survivors Pension Benefit
- TANF (Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance to Needy Families)
- Tribal Head Start
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- FDPIR (Food Distribution Program or Indian Reservations)
Additionally, you can file your ACP application if you’re a beneficiary of one of these:
- Federal Pell Grant
- Free & Reduced-Price Lunch
- Lifeline (if you want to enjoy the Lifeline/ACP combo)
Be mindful that you could qualify by yourself or through a child/dependent if they are registered in any of these programs, in which case you can file the application in their stead.
Documentation I Need to Provide to Apply for Lifeline Free Tablet
To show your eligibility for a Lifeline free tablet (or ACP, as clarified earlier), you’d need to have the following documentation at arm’s reach:
- Proof Of Id And Date Of Birth: To identify yourself, you can utilize your SSN4 (Social Security Number and Card) or Tribal ID. If you did not disclose the last four digits of your SSN or the entire Tribal ID number, you could alternatively attach your driver’s license, birth certificate, or permanent resident card (Green Card)
- Proof Of Residence/address: Normally, your driver’s license or similar should be enough. You could also submit a utility bill or mortgage instead. If you live in a Tribal land, you may have to provide a map with the coordinates showing your current address
- Proof Of Income: This could be your bank statement, paycheck stub, tax returns, social security statement of benefits, or child support award, among others of that ilk
- Proof Of Program Participation: It can be a certificate, notice letter, or any other document that identifies you as a beneficiary. In most instances, the document you bring forth must have been issued in the last 12 months
Apart from the above, you should download and complete the ACP Household Worksheet (FCC FORM 5646) so as to ensure only one member of the household is about to receive the benefit.
If you’re an emancipated minor, you should also add the court document that declares your status.
Before annexing your documents, double-check that they’re not beyond their expiration date and that you’re sending _copies_ of them (do _not _send originals!)
Process of Application for the Lifeline Free Tablet
The application can be completed online (at the ACP or service provider website) or via ordinary mail.
At the end of the process, and before you can get your tablet shipped, the provider will ask that you pay the required contribution (hinted at before). The time it takes for the device to reach your address will depend upon various factors, such as the state and provider.
That said, let’s quickly go through each method:
Apply Via the ACP Website
If you’re not yet decided on the provider you’ll pick, you’d have to go to “AffordableConnectivity.gov” [https://www.affordableconnectivity.gov] and click “Apply Now.” This will redirect you to the eligibility form (National Verifier), wherein you must enter the following:
- Your full name (first, middle, and last name)
- Your phone number (main and alternative)
- Your birth date
- Your SSN (the last four digits) or Tribal ID
- Your residential address (street number/name, unit/apartment, city, state, and ZIP code)
In addition, you’d have to upload a digital copy of your documents and point out which exact ones you’ll be sending as evidence (proof of ID, proof of address, etc.)
Apply Via Mail
If you prefer to do things the classic way, you can mail the filled-out physical form to the ACP Support Center’s P.O. box (9100 Wilkes-Barre, PA 18773) and attach a printed copy of your supporting documents and your household worksheet.
Evidently, your application may take longer to get processed through this method, as you’d have to reckon with shipping times, _let alone processing times_.
Apply Through Provider
Probably the easiest route to take is by going directly to the desired provider’s website and starting from there.
The majority of Lifeline/ACP participants have a dedicated section on their home page with a small snippet describing what each program is about. The snippet is usually followed by a call to action and something similar to an “Apply Now” button. This will prompt you to the eligibility form, similar to the National Verifier on the official ACP website.
Needless to say, you’d want to check if the service provider is available in your household area. Most (if not all) of these websites have a ZIP code-based coverage corroboration system in place.
Aside from that, you’ll most likely be able to choose your plan and tablet right from the onset, though you still must wait for your eligibility to be verified so that the order can be checked out.
Activation Process After Getting Lifeline Free Tablet
Turn the tablet on by pressing the power button (long press). You’ll see a logo and probably an animation preceding the typical “Configuration Wizard.”
After selecting your language, the Wizard will walk you through some basic settings (Wi-Fi, account synchronization, backup and restore and software updates). Beyond that point, you’re given leeway to explore your tablet’s contents.
Provided you inserted the SIM card, your mobile data may already be activated. If not, go over to the notification panel (Android) or control center (iOS). On Android, the “mobile data” button displays two arrows in opposite directions, whereas on iOS, you should see an antenna icon. Tap on that button, and you ought to be receiving mobile signals soon after.
Lifeline Free Tablet Upgrade Policy
Upgrade policies may vary from one provider to the next, but you’ll usually be required to pay a small fee or balance difference, depending on the nature of the upgrade. A similar policy may apply if your tablet gets stolen or lost.
Providers That Offer Lifeline Free Tablet
There is an overwhelming number of companies affiliated with Lifeline/ACP, many of which service Americans East and West. These are some of the most noteworthy:
- AirTalk Wireless: Airtalk is an AirVoice Wireless program that started out in 2009, designed to reach underprivileged families and offer them affordable and even free communications alternatives.
- Q Link Wireless: Based in Dania, FL, Q Link also offers free or economical gadgets and plans as part of both Lifeline and ACP. Q Link likewise supplies prepaid services under the Hello Mobile moniker.
- Cintex Wireless: Cintex is a Texan nationwide provider that delivers Lifeline/ACP packages on behalf of HTH Communications. It has been around since 1999, securing its place as one of the oldest communications companies on the list.
- NewPhone Wireless: Another HTH initiative born around the same time as Cintex, NewPhone also cooperates closely with the FCC in connecting as many people as possible to the world wide web across the Eastern and most of the Western part of the United States.
- Easy Wireless: Easy Wireless has been around for 20 years, providing continuous services to the Central United States (Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma).
- StandUp Wireless: Standup is headquartered in Newport, KY. It’s been with us since 1999, with a coverage area spanning from coast to coast.
Alternative Way to Get free Tablet Other Than Lifeline Program
If the National Verifier deems you _not eligible_, not all is lost. You can still enroll in various non-governmental charities and schemes that may offer free tablets, such as:
- Komputers 4 Kids
- Technology Assisting People In Need
- PCs for People
- Computer Technology Assistance Corps
- Accelerated Schools Programs
- World Computer Exchange
- Microsoft Registered Refurbisher
List of the Tablets Available Free of Cost Under the Lifeline Program
These are some notable examples of tablets you may obtain:
- Lenovo Tab 5
- LG G Pad 5 – 4GB LTE Tab
- Google Chromebook
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S7
- New Microsoft Surface Go 2
- Sky Elite T8
What happens after I submit my application for the Lifeline free tablet?
You’d need to wait until the National Verifier approves your application (it should take roughly ten business days.) Afterwards, if you applied via the ACP, you should notify the participating provider of your choice so that they may proceed to send the tablet and implement the corresponding discount.
What resources are available on the Lifeline Free Tablet?
With the tablet you obtain from your Lifeline/ACP provider, you’ll have access to a plethora of helpful tools for your everyday chores and countless apps for your productivity, messaging, media consumption, and entertainment needs, including calendars, social media clients, and games.
Is there a limit to how many people can enroll in the Lifeline Free Tablet program?
Each household is allowed only _one _discount and _one_ free tablet. Hence, even if you fulfilled every prerequisite, your petition may be denied if another family member living at the same address was granted those same benefits.
Can I transfer ownership of my Lifeline Free Tablet to someone else?
As it stands, entitlement to the benefit is not transferrable to any other household member, even if they also qualified for the program. Of course, this does not preclude shared use or a sale.
Can I apply for the Lifeline Free Tablet program if I already received a Lifeline free phone?
You may apply for both Lifeline and ACP simultaneously, with all the benefits that would bring. You won’t be granted the same benefit twice, but remember that you are eligible for the ACP free tablet upon qualifying for Lifeline.