Ever since the Federal government initiated exceptional support for low-income households to get cell phones, you have likely heard about free government phones. To be clear, your household getting a free government cell phones for low income is still a valid option. The most common way to get the phones is by applying for the Lifeline Assistance program. However, in addition to Lifeline, there has been a new program launched due to coping with COVID-19 related situations. This one is called Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), and it is of higher value than Lifeline.
The Federal government has these programs to give out free or discounted tablets to low-income citizens. Through the programs, you get discounts that enable you to acquire your desired mobile phone at a lower price. Therefore, if you are a US citizen, you might be lucky to receive a free or discounted phone (one-time discount up to $100) from ACP. However, you must have an income below the federal poverty guideline or be a beneficiary of any federal assistance program.
So, when it comes to free government cell phones for low-income, the programs mentioned above are the only two best options. However, if you are not eligible for either of the two supportive programs, you may explore the best deals on Cell Phones Right Now offered by many carriers to new and existing customers. Most of the time, these deals include free phones. Without any further ado, let’s dive in and take a closer look at how to get a free government phone.
Most attainable ways to get a free government cell phone for low-income
There are two most common ways to attain a free government phone, as mentioned in the introduction. The article will take a closer look at each of the ways below.
Affordable Connectivity Program
The Affordable connectivity program (ACP) is the latest, long-term program initiated by Congress to replace the renowned Emergency Broadband Benefits program. Like the EBB, the ACP program gets funded by FCC to make internet connections affordable to low-income households.
This funding is there to narrow the digital divide in the world of communication by helping the less luck afford connections for their daily activities on a long-term basis.
The program operates by offering monthly discounts of $30 to qualified households outside tribal lands. In addition, it will offer $75 monthly discounts on broadband services to tribal lands residents. However, there is a new requirement whereby you must have an income equal to or below 200% of the federal poverty guideline.
Luckily, the previously qualified EBB costumers who qualified based on 135% of their federal poverty guidelines were not canceled out. That way, they continued getting their benefits like free government smartphones with a two-month transition period count from 31st of December 2021.
Lifeline Assistance Program
While EBB came to life during the Covid-19 pandemic that started in 2020 and a long-term ACP program has replaced it, the Lifeline Assistance program has nothing to do with the pandemic. Lifeline Assistance was implemented under Obama’s administration with a long-term goal to help those with financial constraints get connected.
Lifeline Assistance comes in a monthly discount of $9.25 towards communication bills, either wireless, landline, or internet services. The discount is higher for eligible customers living on Tribal lands and is $34.25 per month.
It is worth noting that the Federal government does not offer free phones but discounted ones. However, it is up to participating carriers to offer the most beneficial offers. Luckily, a wide range of wireless carriers nationwide decided to specialize in offering services to Lifeline eligible clients. These carriers often offer free unlimited calls and text, while they tend to have a cap on mobile data. Moreover, most of the carriers offer free smartphones, including a free iPhone when you switch to their services.
Flexible to get free government cell phone under ACP Program
Now that you know that the ACP program is one of the great ways to get a free government phone, the article will make things easy for you.
Firstly, you need to know that not everyone can get ACP support. There are particular criteria set in place that you need to meet.
Hence, how to get a free cell phone from the government under the ACP program? For beginners, we need to remind you that getting a free phone is not something that is stated. The only thing that the federal government gives is a specific monthly discount. So, it is up to the participating carrier that you decide to go with to offer special perks, such as cell phone plans with free phones.
Affordable Connectivity Program benefits, in general, are limited to one member per household. To become a member, there are requirements to meet. Below are eligibility criteria to meet before getting a free government cell phone.
i) You must have an income that is below or at 200% of the federal poverty guideline:
Effective from Jan 2022, all applicants must have a total income that is equal to or below 200% of the federal poverty guideline. Thus, you should check with your state and confirm your income limit as per your household size before applying for ACP free government phone.
ii) You must be a member of any government assistance programs
You can also qualify if you receive benefits from any Assistance program. These programs focus on helping people that are strained financially. Therefore, benefiting from them is enough to prove that you are from a low-income household. Some of these programs are SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, WIC, Lifeline, federal public housing assistance.
iii) You must be a member of any tribal assistance program
These are also government assistance programs that help low-income households in tribal lands. Some of these programs are tribal TANF, bureau of Indian Affairs general assistance, and food distribution program on Indian reservations.
iv) You must have received a federal Pell grant in the nearly previous year
Federal Pell Grants are awards given to undergraduate students that had a chance to pursue a bachelor’s degree but display some financial strains from their background. Receiving these grants is an essential factor to prove that you are from a low-income household. This program automatically qualifies you for ACP benefits
v) Must be qualified to receive reduced-price school lunch or breakfast program
Receiving help from this program also shows that one is from a financially strained household. Therefore, you will qualify for ACP benefits after showing proof that you receive benefits from the program.
Once you ensure that you are eligible, you need to apply. You can do this as outlined below:
- Visit ACP Benefit – how to apply
- Scroll the page down and tap ‘’apply now.’’
- You will be redirected to the Lifeline national verifier website to fill out the application form.
- Enter your full name, date of birth, address, and identity details.
- Tick whether you qualify independently or through a dependent
- Click ‘’next’’
- Provide your email and password to create an account.
- Prove eligibility and submit the form.
- Wait for approval within minutes.
- Locate a participating ACP service provider near you, contact them and select a plan and device that suits you. The article recommends that you locate an ACP provider with the best deals on cell phone plans to save more.
Alternatively, you can apply by following the procedure below
- Visit your ACP provider’s website
- Fill out their ACP benefits application form
- Enter correct personal details and address
- Prove eligibility
- Select a suitable plan or device
- Finalize the application and wait for approval.
The Flexible ways to get free government phone with Lifeline Assistance Program
Lifeline is a long-term government-assistance program. Whereas it may direct its monthly discount to various telecommunication services, most carriers adopt it. Therefore, there are many carriers focused on serving mainly Lifeline eligible customers. Moreover, most of the carriers offer free phones within their capability.
There are two ways for a household to qualify for Lifeline support:
i) Income-based eligibility:
You are eligible for Lifeline Assistance if your income is 135% or less than the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Note that the guideline is based on your household size and condition.
ii) Program Participation eligibility
You can get Lifeline if you or a member in your household participate in one of these programs:
i) Federal Assistance Programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
ii) Tribal Assistance Programs
If you live on Tribal lands, you can get Lifeline if you or a member of your household participate in:
- Any of the federal assistance programs listed above
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Head Start (only households meeting the income qualifying standard)
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
Then you need to apply using either of the following ways:
i) You may go directly to a specific Lifeline provider and apply through them.
ii) You may apply online by visiting Lifeline National Verifier.
iii) Apply via mail by sending a filled-out application form along with your proof documentation to Lifeline Support Center, PO Box 7081, London, KY 40742.
Documentation that are needed to apply for free government phone
While applying for a free government cell phone, you must attach a copy of documents for the national verifier to determine whether you qualify or disqualify for the program. Note that these documents should concur with your eligibility criteria, and they should be valid and reliable. It is worth noting that they don’t accept dark or blurry copies. Below are the documents:
i) Based on your income documents
- Annual state, federal or tribal tax return copy
- Pension statement of benefits
- Social security statement of benefits
- Veteran administration document
- Unemployment statement of benefits
- Child support award
ii) Based on government assistance programs documents
- Medicaid approval letter
- SNAP benefits verification letter
- Federal public housing benefit award letter
- Free and reduced-price school lunch or breakfast program document with a future expiration date
- Current academic year federal Pell grants documents
iii) Identity documents
- Passport or birth certificate to prove identity.
- Certificate of US naturalization
- Green card
- US driver’s license
- Individual taxpayer identification number document
- Government, military, state, or Tribal ID
- Most recent W-2 or tax return
What Other Benefits Does Lifeline and ACP Programs offer
- Through the programs, you can get unlimited talk and text with nationwide coverage from the wireless providers.
- You can receive up to a $100 discount when purchasing a computer through different providers participating in the programs.
- The programs help to narrow the digital divide by bringing wireless connection to every America regardless of their financial status
- 5G high-speed data and mobile hotspot from providers
The top Companies That Offer free Government cell phones to low-income
The article lists the top companies offering Lifeline support and the top providers offering ACP. However, some of the providers listed below operate in multiple states, while others cover a few states.
Providers that participate in the Lifeline Assistance program include:
- Assist Wireless
- Qlink Wireless
- American Assistance
- Assurance Wireless
Providers that participate in the ACP program include;
- Boost mobile
- Cox communications
- Mint Mobile
Note that some of the providers listed above also offer the best cell phone deals No Contract to its new and existing customers.
Although food, shelter, and clothes are considered essential things in life, a mobile phone has also become one of the essential things. With a phone, you can remain connected with your loved ones, learn and trade online, and work from home.
However, these devices are becoming costly. The government is now offering free phones to all eligible households through Lifeline and ACP programs. You have learned from the article how to get a free phone under these programs and remain connected.
- Most attainable ways to get a free government cell phone for low-income
- Affordable Connectivity Program
- Lifeline Assistance Program
- Flexible to get free government cell phone under ACP Program
- i) You must have an income that is below or at 200% of the federal poverty guideline:
- ii) You must be a member of any government assistance programs
- iii) You must be a member of any tribal assistance program
- iv) You must have received a federal Pell grant in the nearly previous year
- v) Must be qualified to receive reduced-price school lunch or breakfast program
- The Flexible ways to get free government phone with Lifeline Assistance Program
- i) Income-based eligibility:
- ii) Program Participation eligibility
- Documentation that are needed to apply for free government phone
- i) Based on your income documents
- ii) Based on government assistance programs documents
- iii) Identity documents
- What Other Benefits Does Lifeline and ACP Programs offer
- The top Companies That Offer free Government cell phones to low-income
- Bottom line