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17 ways to get a free laptop (and how to apply, for low-income families)

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A laptop computer can change your life — help your child do homework, participate in school from home, and help parents find a job or earn money from home. Unfortunately, laptops are expensive.

Here are some places to find cheap or free laptops:

Affordable Connectivity Program

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a government program run by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that helps low-income families pay for internet service and devices that use the internet, like laptops and tablets. The ACP covers: 

  • Up to $30/month discount on internet service (​​$75/month for households on qualifying Tribal lands)
  • One-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-pay of more than $10 but less than $50)

What are the qualifications for assistance with a laptop or tablet through the Affordable Connectivity Program?

There are several ways to qualify for laptop assistance through the Affordable Connectivity Program: 

  • Household income below 200% of the federal poverty level (currently $23,030 for a family of 3)
  • You or someone you live with receives a government benefit like SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, WIC, Pell Grant, or free and reduced-price lunches

How to apply for a laptop, tablet and internet assistance through the Affordable Connectivity Program

You can apply through the Affordable Connectivity website, by mail, or through your current internet company. If you are already enrolled in the Lifeline Program (which offers qualifying households a $9.25 per month discount on telephone or internet service), you 

How to find the Affordable Connectivity Program providers in your state

You can find a list of ACP providers on the FCC website, organized by state.

Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse

The Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse is a group of nonprofits with a common mission to promote technology recycling and encourage the donation of technology across the country. Their nonprofits provide discounted and free computers for low-income families. 

What are the qualifications for a free laptop from Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse?

AFTRR provides an interactive map of its nonprofit providers, which all offer discounted or free computers to qualifying people and groups. Type your address into the map’s search function to find the free/discounted laptop provider nearest you

How to apply for a laptop from Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse

Each individual organization within AFTRR has its own process and qualifications for receiving a free or discounted computer or laptop. Visit the individual website of your nearest provider to purchase or apply for a free laptop in your area. 

Amazon

If you’re online shopping this holiday season, chances are, you’ll be shopping on Amazon. So how do you get a free laptop from Amazon?

Laptops 75%-99% off at Amazon

While they don’t have any free options, Amazon offers a large selection of discounted laptops for 75-99% discount off retail price. Most of these laptops have been discontinued or refurbished, so check customer reviews to see which computer is the best value.

Amazon Prime members are eligible for free delivery on select items, and Prime is just $5.99 per month for EBT cardholders and some government-assistance recipients. You can apply here for this discounted membership, which gives you access to all of Amazon Prime’s features.

Computer Technology Assistance Corps

Computer Technology Assistance Corps accepts donations of recently retired computers from businesses and individuals, then provides them to qualifying applicants on a sliding scale.

A desktop computer system including a tower with LCD flat screen monitor, keyboard and mouse starts at $75 and carries a one-year hardware warranty. Laptops start at $120 and have a 90-day hardware warranty.

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What are the qualifications for a free laptop from Computer Technology Assistance Corps?

CTAC spokesperson Penny Close says CTAC has waived its application process since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

However, in the past, to be considered eligible for these low-cost computers, an applicant must be receiving some form of state or federal assistance, like food stamps, reduced-cost school lunches, WIC, disability, EBT, TANF, etc.

How to apply for a laptop from Computer Technology Assistance Corps

Currently, laptops and computers can be purchased on the organization’s website or through its eBay account. 

Comp-U-Dopt

Comp-U-Dopt is a nonprofit that aims to “eliminate limited access to computers, facilitate growth in technical and digital literacy skills and support the future of youth and their communities.” In other words: They give away free computers, offer technical and job training and otherwise help low-income people gain access to tech and skills that help them be competitive in today’s economy.

What are the qualifications for a free laptop from Comp-U-Dopt?

To qualify for a free computer, you must not have access to a working computer at home, and you must have a child in pre-K-12 (up to age 20). Devices provided by the school are not included in this qualification, since they are not owned by the family. So, if your kid has a school Chrombook, you can still qualify for a free laptop from Comp-U-Dopt.

How to apply for a laptop from Comp-U-Dopt

Comp-U-Dopt holds lotteries for free computers across the United States. Applicants can register at their nearest location, and names will be chosen randomly based on available inventory three days before distribution dates. 

It’s important to choose an easily accessible location, since selected recipients will be notified via email and/or text message to pick up their free computer from their chosen drive-thru distribution site. Learn more here about how to get a free laptop from Comp-U-Dopt.

Computers for Kids 

​​Computers for Kids, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that refurbishes donated computers, then donates them back to schools, nonprofits and students in grades K-12 and junior college. Their goal is to equalize educational opportunities for children and close the “digital divide” that occurs for those who don’t have easy access to technology. 

What are the qualifications for a free laptop from Computers for Kids?

Computers for Kids is not based on income, so any student can submit an application for a free computer. Laptops are currently only available to people in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Utah. 

How to apply for a laptop from Computers for Kids

Students and parents can submit a student application on the Computers for Kids website. The organization offers every selected child a free desktop or laptop computer with Windows 10 Pro and Microsoft Office 2010, plus one year of free tech support.

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Computers With Causes

Computers with Causes is part of the Giving Center 501c3 nonprofit, which relies on donations to provide free working computers to low-income people and families. 

What are the qualifications for a free laptop from Computers With Causes?

Computers with Causes invites anyone in need of a working computer to complete its application process, though its efforts are mainly focused on students, teachers, parents, the elderly, foster homes, shelters, disabled veterans and struggling military families.

How to apply for a laptop from Computers With Causes

Computers with Causes performs a strict need assessment, including background and reference checks. After submitting an application on the Computer’s With Causes’s website, it may take several weeks to hear back.

Connect All

Connect All is a program that provides affordable computers and Internet to nonprofit organizations and low-income individuals.

Discounted, refurbished laptops from Connect All

Connect All refurbishes previously owned computers and sells them at low prices on its website. The organization also offers discounted internet packages through the Sprint network. 

Everyone On

Everyone On connects families in underserved communities to affordable internet service and computers, in addition to providing digital skills training.

What are the qualifications for a free laptop from Everyone On?

Everyone On provides a search function for discounted internet and low-cost computers across the United States. 

How to apply for a laptop from Everyone On

Simply type in your zip code, and choose one of the offers that comes up in your area to see available devices and internet packages. 

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human-i-t

human-i-t is an organization that provides low-cost devices, internet access, digital skills training, and tech support to people who lack access to technology. The organization partners with businesses to refurbish unwanted tech.

What are the qualifications for a low-cost laptop from human-i-t?

People enrolled in the following government assistance programs are eligible for a low-cost laptop or other device from human-i-t:

  • Government Assistance Program Accepted Proof:
  • SNAP / EBT (CalFresh)
  • Medi-Cal / Medicaid
  • SSI (Supplemental Security Income)
  • SSDI (Social Security Disability)
  • NSLP (National School Lunch Program)
  • Public Housing Assistance or Section 8 voucher
  • Lifeline
  • Cal Grant Financial Aid
  • Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE)
  • Head Start
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

The following individuals/families can also apply: 

  • Veterans in need
  • People with disabilities
  • Senior citizens
  • Households that make 250% of the federal poverty level

Schools and nonprofit organizations can also apply for a low-cost device and assistance from human-i-t. 

If you do not qualify for any of these reasons, you can also shop low-cost devices through human-i-t’s eBay store

How to apply for a low-cost laptop from human-i-t?

To apply for a low-cost laptop from human-i-t, you can submit proof of eligibility online, via text message, or in person at one of human-i-t’s locations at the time of purchase. You can show proof of government program enrollment or proof of income with the following documents: 

  • The prior year’s state, federal, or tribal tax return
  • Social Security statement of benefits
  • Federal or tribal notice letter of participation in General Assistance
  • Veteran Administration statement of benefits
  • Retirement/pension statement of benefits / Social Security benefits

If you qualify for a low-cost laptop from human-i-t, you can shop online at hitconnect.org. You’ll create an account and upload or submit proof of eligibility before purchase. Laptop prices start around $120.

Jump On It! Program

The Jump On It! Program was started by The On It Foundation, a national nonprofit organization that provides free computers and computer training to low-income families with students in grades K-12 that receive a free or reduced-price school lunch, attend a public school and reside within the United States. (Learn more about their free computer program below.)

Discounted, refurbished laptop from Jump On It! Program

If you meet certain low-income criteria and earn less than $23,800 annually — or you receive Medicaid, SSI, TANF, GA-U, DSHS support or free/reduced school lunches — you can purchase a high-quality refurbished computer starting at $99 or start a lay-away plan for $15 down. 

Notebooks for Students 

Notebooks for Students offers certified laptop computers that were never used by the general public. Off-lease laptops originate from large corporations (banks, insurance companies, etc.) who lease them for use by their employees. 

Discounted, refurbished laptops from Notebooks for Students

Laptops purchased through NFS must be used by a student or educator. Check out available inventory on the NFS website.

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The On It Foundation

The On It Foundation is a national nonprofit organization that provides free computers and computer training to qualifying low-income families with students in grades K-12. 

What are the qualifications for a free laptop from The On It Foundation?

To qualify for a free computer, a student must be in a grade K-12, receive a free or reduced-price school lunch, attend a public school and reside within the United States. 

How to apply for a laptop from The On It Foundation

A parent or guardian for the student must write to The On It Foundation requesting a free computer. The letter must include the following information:

  1. Student name, age, grade, school name, school address and school phone information 
  2. Parent/guardian name, address, phone number. The letter must be signed by the parent/guardian, and the organization also requires proof from the school on its official letterhead stating the student qualifies for free or reduced-price school lunches. 

Letters of request and school statements should be mailed to: 

The On It Foundation 
Attn: Free Computer Application 
18520 NW 67th Avenue Suite 186 
Miami, FL 33015 

You may also scan and email the Letter of Request to [email protected] as long as it includes a written signature. The On It Foundation requires the school statement to be mailed. 

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PCs for People

Through its electronic reuse program, PCs for People provides access to low-cost computers and mobile internet for low-income individuals and nonprofits. 

What are the qualifications for a free laptop from PCs for People?

PCs for People provides reduced-price laptops and computers to qualifying individuals. The organization requires photo identification and income documentation for program qualification. People can qualify by showing current income or enrollment in an income-based government assistance program. Refer to the chart on the PCs for People website for income requirements, which are based on the number of family members per household. 

How to apply for a laptop from PCs for People

Eligible individuals can purchase available devices through the PCs for People website. Proof of qualification can be uploaded at the time of purchase or emailed to [email protected].

Other ways to get free laptops:

Craigslist

Craigslist offers a “free” category under its for sale listings, where people can post items they want to give away. Finding a free laptop or computer on Craigslist will be a game of chance, so move quickly on any listings you see. Just look out for potential scams, provide minimal personal details and always meet up in a safe public area to collect your item. 

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Freecycle

The Freecycle Network is a nonprofit organization with local chapters in almost every major city. Join your local Freecycle group to start searching for free laptops and computers. Like Craigslist, any listings on Freecycle are likely to go quickly, so make a habit of regularly checking the site. 

Local nonprofit organizations

In most major cities, nonprofits exist to connect people with free or discounted laptops and internet services. The easiest way to find these organizations is to Google “free laptops in [Your City] for low-income families” or a similar search term. 

You can also dial 211 to connect with your local United Way chapter, which may be able to connect you with local resources to obtain a free or low-cost laptop near you. 

If you live in one of the following areas, learn how you can apply for a laptop through these organizations: 

FAQs for finding free laptops

How can I get a free laptop from the government?

While there is no singular application process to receive a free laptop from the federal government, you can start by applying for benefits through benefits.gov. Many government agencies can connect you with grants or resources to receive a free laptop and low-cost internet service. 

Where can I get a free laptop for my child?

If you are unable to purchase a laptop for your child, look no further than your school or community library. Reach out to your PTA/PTO, school board members, guidance counselors or school administrators to inquire about device rentals or grants available to students. If your child is enrolled in online learning, their school will likely provide a free device to complete school work. 

Most public libraries have computers available on-site or to rent. Your local librarian may also be able to connect you with local resources for free devices. 

Can people with disabilities get a free laptop?

People with disabilities qualify for many of the programs listed above, plus there are specific organizations that provide free adaptive software to people with disabilities. GiveTech is one nonprofit organization that gives away input devices that allow people with quadriplegia to use computers. Fill out a GiveTech application to see if you qualify.

Bottom line: Government programs and nonprofits are making free laptops more accessible

Government programs and nonprofits that offer free laptops and low-cost devices to students and teachers are helping to close the digital divide and make technology more accessible to low-income individuals and families. 

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the share of households with school children with access to a computer device and internet connection increased from 60% in 2020 to 71% in 2021.

Research from the American University School of Education found that technology helps students:

  • Easily access information
  • Learn at an accelerated rate
  • Practice what they learn in a fun way
  • Explore new subjects and difficult concepts, particularly in STEM

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How can I get a free laptop from the government?

While there is no singular application process to receive a free laptop from the government, you can start by applying for benefits through benefits.gov. Many government agencies can connect you with grants or resources to receive a free laptop and low-cost internet service.

Where can I get a free laptop for my child?

If you are unable to purchase a laptop for your child, look no further than your school or community library. Reach out to your PTA/PTO, school board members, guidance counselors or school administrators to inquire about device rentals or grants available to students.

Can people with disabilities get a free laptop?

GiveTech is one nonprofit organization that gives away input devices that allow people with quadriplegia to use computers.

Leighann Bacher is a writer/editor based in Pittsburgh, Pa. She received her degree in journalism from Kent State University and has since worked for major metropolitan newspapers, marketing firms and city magazines. Leighann was named one of Pittsburgh Magazine's '40 Under 40 Honorees' for spearheading a social media campaign to connect people with COVID-19 vaccines and resources. Her greatest joy is spending time with her two kids and dabbling in her creative passions of photography, dance and art.

One Comment

Thank you very much. I am so tired and if I could learn to work at home and take courses at home it would really improve my life. I have been collecting information about computers and this article is a wonderful resource for where to get one I can afford.

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