Whether you need a free tablet for work, school, or play, there are places where low-income families can get one.
In this post, we’ll explain how you can get free or discounted iPads or mobile tablets, as well as internet service so you can use them. Keep in mind that service providers sometimes offer free devices in exchange for contracts for service. We’ll cover free iPad/tablet scams as well in this post.
How to get an iPad for free
Yes, there are lots of ways to get a free iPad, including from government programs and agencies, wireless companies, nonprofits, and schools.
Legit free iPad, tablets and phone programs will often:
- Have strict eligibility requirements
- Have limited quantities
- Require proof of identity and other documentation
But be careful. If you’re required to share personal information such as your social security number, bank account information, or date of birth in exchange for a free iPad, use caution.
Scammers claim to offer free iPads to steal data or take advantage of individuals who are eager to get one.
Beware of free iPad scams
Unfortunately there are many free iPad scams online. So, how do you spot a scam?
Pay attention to the details of the offer and ask yourself:
- Is it coming from a reputable company or government website?
- What does the fine print say?
- What do I have to give up or divulge to get the free iPad?
A general rule of thumb: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. And if you have to pay money to get an advertised free iPad — even with the promise of having the money returned to you — then it’s not free.
Here are some telltale signs to look for:
- Pop-up ads: Don’t click on flashy ads that pop up when you are online with words like: “Win a new iPad Pro” or “Congratulations you won a free iPad!”
- Email addresses you don’t recognize: Be wary of opening emails from unknown senders with the subject line “Free iPad”
- Website address is spelled differently: If the online offer claims to be from a well-known store like Walmart but instead of taking you to walmart.com, the website URL is either completely or slightly different (i.e. walmart.net, wallmart.com, etc.)
- News story about the offer: Some scammers use logos from news outlets to try to add credibility to their offers, but the web address is not the official news source’s web address
- Misspelled words, poor grammar, or hype language: Be wary of offers that use incorrect spelling, all capital letters, or words like crazy
- Requesting personal information: Beware if the online offer asks for personal or sensitive information, such as your social security number
- Requires credit card information: Be careful of “just pay shipping” offers or offers that require you to make a purchase or buy a subscription to get an iPad
Overall, be careful where you click. Sometimes just clicking on a scammer’s ad or link can introduce malware or a virus to your laptop or smartphone.
Check out these Reddit posts from people who came across free iPad scams:
Free government iPhone and tablet programs: Can you get free electronics with EBT benefits?
If you have EBT benefits, you may be eligible to receive free or discounted electronics, including tablets, smartphones, and laptops.
While the government does not offer free iPads, if you have a low income and EBT, you may qualify for the FCC government programs Lifeline and/or the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). However, it may not necessarily be an Apple iPad.
Affordable Connectivity Program
If you’re eligible for ACP, you can get a one-time discount of up to $100 to buy a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. You must pay more than $10 but less than $50 toward the device.
With the ACP, eligible households get a discount of up to $30 per month on home internet service, so you can use your electronic devices at home. If you live on qualifying Tribal lands, you can get up to $75 off per month1.
You may qualify for the ACP if you meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines2
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
- Meet the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low-income internet program
- Participates in Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program, SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, or a Federal Housing Assistance program
Lifeline is another way to get free or low-cost electronics. Lifeline-eligible low-income families can sign up for free and discounted phone and internet services from participating providers. The program offers up to a $9.25 monthly discount on service or $34.25 per month for those on Tribal lands3.
Eligible families have an income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participate in one of the government programs noted above (such as SNAP or Medicaid).
Some wireless providers that work with Lifeline and offer discounted iPads or tablets include:
- Easy Wireless – 8-inch tablet for $10.99, but tablets options and pricing may vary by state and availability
- StandUp Wireless – 10-inch tablet for a co-pay of at least $10.01
- QLink – Tablet for $10.01 and it comes with a free smartphone for eligible customers
- Cintex Wireless – iPad Mini for a co-pay of $10.01
Can you get a free tablet with food stamps?
A free tablet for EBT recipients is possible. If you receive food stamps, aka SNAP benefits, and qualify for Lifeline and/or ACP, your child may be able to get a free government tablet from school. The catch is, your child’s school system must be part of a free tablet program.
Providers like Public Wireless are working with K-12 school districts and colleges to provide free tablets to students who meet eligibility guidelines.
Learn about more EBT discounts and freebies.
Does the government give free iPads?
No — the government does not give away free iPads, though you may be able to get one at a low cost if you qualify for certain government programs.
For example, Cintex Wireless offers an iPad Mini for a co-pay of $10.01 through the ACP program to low-income applicants who receive government benefits like Medicaid, SNAP, SSI, WIC, or Section 8 vouchers. However, quantities are limited.
Call the United Way’s at 2-1-1 or visit 211.org to find programs in your area.
Veterans Affairs telehealth program offers eligible veterans free iPads
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) collaborates with Apple to lend iPads to veterans who previously weren’t able to attend telehealth appointments due to a lack of internet or an internet-connected device.
The iPads have cellular service so that veterans can access virtual health care services even if they don't have internet access.
To determine your eligibility for a free iPad, you will need a VA Digital Divide Consult, which you can schedule by contacting your local VA.
Can you get a free tablet with Medicaid?
If you are eligible for Medicaid, you may be able to get a tablet for as little as $10 through the Lifeline or ACP programs.
Likewise, in some states, you may be able to secure a voucher for a free iPad through your local Medicaid office if the tablet is medically important to your health and you cannot afford to buy one.
- If your child has a limited ability to speak and must use an iPad to communicate
- If an iPad will allow your child to participate in a Free and Public Education (FAPE)
Talk to your Medicaid caseworker to learn more about how to apply for an assistive technology device.
Does the government give away “food stamp tablets”?
No, the government does not give away free phones or tablets if you have an EBT card and receive SNAP benefits, including food stamps. However, if you receive SNAP and other benefits like WIC or SSI, you may be eligible for Lifeline or ACP, which provide low-cost tablets to eligible families, as many agencies and charities use these benefits as a measure of eligibility — though eligibility in and of itself does not automatically qualify you for free device.
Local government agencies sometimes offer free iPads
Some local government agencies offer programs for free or discounted iPads, including free ipads for students. You can start research by looking for “free tablet with EBT near me,” as well as variations on “free tablet with food stamps” and “free tablet with Medicaid” near you.
For example, in 2022, the California Department of Aging4 collaborated with local health and human service agencies to provide free iPads to adults over 60 and those with disabilities who had no devices to access the internet.
Cell phone companies: Check mobile carriers for reduced or free iPads and tablets
Thinking about switching mobile carriers? Sometimes, you can get a free or reduced-price iPad or tablet just for transferring to a new provider or even adding a new line on your existing account. You may also be able to get a free phone.
For example, AT&T offers 50% off a Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite when you activate a new eligible line of service (min $20/mo)5. You have to pay the full price of the device upfront, then you’ll receive up to $100 in bill credits over the term of the agreement.
Verizon offers up to $180 off an Apple iPad (10th generation) when you trade in a qualifying device6.
Check with providers like Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T to get access to the latest Apple and Android tablets.
Non-profit organizations offering free iPads and tablets
Reach out to nonprofits in your area to find out if there are programs that offer free iPads and tablets.
For example, the Wayne County Committee for Crippled Children and Adults7 in Wooster, Ohio, gives free iPads to people who are nonverbal or experience development delays that make it hard to communicate without assistive technology.
To find resources near you, contact your local United Way by dialing 2-1-1.
Schools offering free tablets and iPads
Some K-12 schools offer free tablets to their students for classwork and continued learning at home — especially schools that are in low-income neighborhoods.
For example, Gary Community School Corp. in Gary, In. provides a 10.1-inch tablet and free monthly internet service to all students who attend the school district in the 2022-2023 school year and apply for the tablet.8 The school district receives the USDA Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), a meal option for schools in low-income areas.
Public Wireless is working with K-12 and colleges across the nation to provide free tablets to qualified students. For example, the University of Maryland Global Campus is partnered with Public Wireless to provide a 10-inch tablet and 4G service to students who complete the FAFSA and show financial need.9
In addition, some colleges and universities offer free tablets or iPads for students, including:
- The University of Kentucky: As an Apple Distinguished School, this university is providing an iPad Air, keyboard and Apple Pencil to all first-time undergrads in a degree program to help them level up in learning, graduating and increasing technology skills to help them pursue careers 10
- Delaware State University: As part of its Digital Student Universe program, all first-year students who graduated high school in May 2018 or later will receive an iPad or Macbook, protective case, smart keyboard, Apple Pencil, and Applecare+11
- Moravian University: This Apple Distinguished School gives all incoming freshmen receive a Macbook, iPad, and Apple Pencil to encourage the use of technology in education12
These are just a few schools that offer free iPads to students. You’ll notice that some are Apple Distinguished Schools. This is an invitation-only program sent to schools that meet specific qualifications, such as having Apple-proficient teachers and innovative learning programs that use the Apple platform.
To find out if your prospective school offers free iPads, contact the office of the registrar.
Bottom line: Free iPads are out there, but you have to know where to look
Free iPads are available for people who need them, but it’s easy to fall for iPad scams. Stick with reputable sources, including:
- Government programs like Lifeline and ACP
- Government agencies
- State departments of social service
- K-12 and postsecondary schools
- Wireless and internet providers
- Health insurers
You may have to meet certain eligibility requirements to get a free or discounted iPad or tablet.
Check out these other resources for low-income families:
- “Affordable Connectivity Program” 2023. Federal Communications Commission. https://www.fcc.gov/lifeline-consumers
- “HHS Poverty Guidelines for 2023.” January 19, 2023. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. https://aspe.hhs.gov/topics/poverty-economic-mobility/poverty-guidelines
- “Lifeline Support for Affordable Communications” 2023. Federal Communications Commission. https://www.fcc.gov/lifeline-consumers
- “Disabled adults and adults 60+ may be eligible for free iPad in Shasta County.” October 17, 2022. KRCR. https://krcrtv.com/news/local/disabled-adults-and-adults-older-than-60-might-be-eligible-for-free-ipad
- AT&T. https://www.att.com/buy/tablets/galaxy-tab-a7-lite.html
- Verizon. https://www.verizon.com/tablets/apple-ipad-10th-generation/?sku=sku5710011
- Wayne County Committee for Crippled Children & Adults. https://wcccca.org/
- “Gary Community Schools Offer Students Free tablets, Internet.” September 15, 2023. Government Technology https://www.govtech.com/education/k-12/gary-community-schools-offer-students-free-tablets-internet
- “Public Wireless: No-Cost Tablet & Internet Access For Eligible Students.” University of Maryland Global Campus. https://www.umgc.edu/current-students/finances/financial-aid/public-wireless
- “iPad Initiative.” University of Kentucky Smart Campus. https://smartcampus.uky.edu/ipad-initiative
- “Digital Student Universe.” Delaware State University. https://www.desu.edu/about/administration/information-technology/digital-student-universe
- “Apple Technology at Moravian.” Moravian University. https://www.moravian.edu/academics/apple-technology