We’ve found free computers for low income families! Low income computer assistance programs can provide desktops, laptops and even tablets to families who couldn’t otherwise afford them. I spend a lot of time searching for free things for low income families and these programs are absolutely some of my favorites.
3 Things You Need to Know
There are three things you need to know before I show you how to get free computers for low income families.
- Don’t forget that you may also qualify for $5 per month Internet, as well!
- If you have food stamps, you need to understand how a free computer may impact your benefits.
- Each program sets its own rules and requirements. If you don’t qualify for one low income computer assistance program, try another. It’s usually easiest to get free computer programs from local agencies instead of nationwide ones. Don’t miss the local resource list at the end of this article!
Free Low Income Computer Programs
We have found several programs that provide low income computer assistance programs. Not all of them have the same offerings, so be sure to review all of the programs before you apply!
Computers with Causes
Computer with Causes is an incredible 501(c)(3) organization that helps distribute free computers to low income families and even schools that can’t afford the technology.
In order to get a free computer from Computers with Causes, you will need to apply on their website. Once you apply, they will conduct a thorough needs assessment, as well as a background and reference check, to ensure that their computers are sent where they are needed most.
Their application form is very basic. It includes the ability to upload a file or enter text describing your need. Since you have the option to upload a file, I recommend creating a document similar to the one we recommend to enter the Keys to Progress vehicle giveaway. If you include images and make a compelling case, you are more likely to be selected.
Applications are kept on file for 30 days. If you are not contacted in that timeframe, you can reapply.
PCs for People
PCs for People is a low income computer assistance program for people who have an income below 200% of the federal poverty level OR receive help from an income-based government assistance program (like food stamps or Medicaid).
In order to prove your eligibility, you will need to provide photo ID and proof of eligibility within the last six months (unless it’s a tax return, then it has to be within the last year). Proof of eligibility must have a date and the recipients name, so an EBT card usually won’t work (but a letter about your EBT account should).
Some of the programs that can be used to prove your eligibility include:
- Employment Support Services
- Food Stamps (a dated letter is required)
- Foster Care
- Head Start
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Medicaid (or Medical Assistance)
- National School Lunch Free/Reduced Program
- Pell Grant
- Section 8
- Social Security Disability (SSD)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- TANF or GA Financial Assistance (a dated letter is required)
- Unemployment Benefits
- Veteran Benefits
In 2020, persons who are affected by school closures due to COVID-19 are also eligible. You will need to provide a screenshot or letter proving the school closure in order to receive assistance with a computer. If you’re looking for free computers for low income families because of the pandemic, apply for this program right away!
If you are determined to be eligible, you will be allowed to purchase one of their low income computers for sale. Prices range from $0 to $150 per machine. They have desktops, laptops and internet devices.
The On It Foundation (K-12 students only)
Low income families with K-12 children can apply for help from The On It Foundation. “ON IT” stands for Opportunities Necessary to Increase Learning. This organization provides computers, training and Internet to eligible households.
In order to be eligible for one of their free computers for low income families, you must have a K-12 student in your family. Your student must attend public school in the United States and participate in the Free or Reduced School Lunch Program.
To apply, you will need to prepare a few documents.
First, you will need to write a letter requesting a free computer. The letter must include the student’s name, age, grade, school name, school address and school phone number. It must also include the parent/guardian’s name, address and phone number. A parent or guardian must sign the letter.
Second, you will need to get a letter from your student’s school. The letter must be printed on school letterhead and must specifically state that your student is eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches.
These two documents must be mailed to The On It Foundation at the following address:
The On It Foundation
ATTN: Free Computer Application
18520 NW 67th Avenue Ste. 186
Miami FL 33015
If you are not eligible for a free computer, you may be able to purchase a discount computer through their Jump On It! Program. This low income computer assistance program helps families purchase discount computers regardless of income or credit. They even have a lay-away plan!
Low Income Computers for Sale
We’ve found other providers that offer a low-cost low income computer program. These aren’t exactly free computers for low income families, but they are still cheaper than the computers normally would be.
Comcast (Internet Essentials required)
If you participate in Comcast’s low-cost internet program, then you are also eligible to buy a computer from their low income computer assistance program. They offer desktops and laptops that must meet minimum specifications (such as a 12″ screen for laptops or a 17″ screen for desktops). As of this last update (9/18/2020), the laptops and desktops are approximately $150.
Computers for the Blind (Visual impairment)
Visually impaired individuals can apply for a low-cost computer from Computers for the Blind. They charge $130 for a desktop and $185 for a laptop. It usually takes 2-3 weeks to receive the computer
Other Options for Low Income Computers
Even if you don’t qualify (or don’t want to use) one of the programs above, we’ve still found ways that you can save money on your devices.
Look for refurbished and off-lease items.
Retailers and manufacturers often sell good machines at a discount. These machines usually include warranties but are discounted for various reasons.
- Refurbished laptops and other machines have been owned previously but were returned due to some sort of malfunction. They’ve been fixed up and are working again… but they’re always sold for less.
- Scratch and dent laptops and other machines have surface damage. They may have scratches, dents or other cosmetic flaws but they still function perfectly. However, they are less attractive so they’re sold for less.
- Corporate off-lease laptops and other machines have been returned following a lease period. Often, companies will lease machines for two to three years and then return them for an upgrade. Refurbished business laptops are often a better quality than other refurbished machines because they were used for business and weren’t returned because of a defect.
Check for government surplus.
Government surplus stores can be a great source for used but still functional computers. At our local state surplus store, we can usually snag a decent laptop or desktop computer for $50 or less. In fact, that’s how we acquired homeschool computers for our five kiddos!
If travelling to your state’s surplus store is not an option, you can still browse sites like GovDeals.com and PropertyRoom.com.
Wait for Black Friday or another major discount.
If you really want to buy new, Black Friday is always the best time to buy. However, you can usually get cheap laptops on sale (as well as tablets and desktop computers) just after the back-to-school shopping season ends.
Low Income Computer Programs by State
As you know from our other posts, some of the best help can be found from small agencies in your local communities. That’s true with this post, too. There are many agencies working to close the technology gap for low income households.
Students attending grades K-12 who have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) may be able to receive free computers from Idaho Assistive Technology Project.
Computers for Kids provides low-cost computers for K-12 students and sometimes college students. The low income computers for sale from this agency range from $100-$185 in price.
Tech Buddies are helping low income seniors and disabled adults in Brookline receive a free tablet and/or free internet service for one year. They also provide technical support.
Interconnection has a ConnectAll program that provides low income computer assistance to eligible low income families. Before you can purchase one of their discount computers, you must apply and be verified as eligible.