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Having a computer nowadays is pretty much a necessity.
Whether you have a job or are going to school, a computer can help you get your work done.
Even many elementary schoolers are using computers to get their work done in today’s modern age of technology.
But the fact remains that many families and individuals can’t afford to buy a new computer, no matter how much they might need one.
Fortunately, there are many programs and organizations that can help you get a free laptop without you paying a cent, especially if you fall within the category of low-income.
How to Get a Free Laptop from the Government and Other Organizations
The following government programs and non-profit organizations help people with low incomes or those who have fallen on difficult times get a laptop or computer for free.
Ask About Local Programs
Whenever you’re looking for free stuff for low income families, try your local programs first.
Often, there are programs your state, county, or local government has in place that you don’t even know about because they aren’t advertised to the public.
You can check with your local welfare department to see what’s available.
You may find that they can connect you with area programs or organizations that give people access to technology when they can’t afford it otherwise, especially families with children who need access to tech for school.
Get Free Computers for Low Income Families from Computer Technology Assistance Corps (CTAC)
The CTAC is an organization that takes in donations of laptops, desktop computers, and other helpful technology to give to people in need.
When they receive computers, they’ll wipe the drives to protect any sensitive information from the donor.
Then, everything is tested and, if needed, repaired or refurbished to bring it to a condition where they can gift them to someone else.
Not all computers are free here. In fact, many of them are offered for affordable prices to help people budget for them.
However, you may still be able to get one for free if someone donates to “sponsor” a computer.
To qualify, you’ll need to be receiving some type of state or federal government assistance or be a senior citizen or person with a disability and qualify as low income.
PCs for People gives free technology for people in need.
To be eligible, recipients must be at or below 200% poverty level or be on some form of government assistance program, like food stamps or cash assistance.
You’ll need to provide documentation, including income information and a photo ID, when you apply.
You can apply online or in a PCs for People store, which are found in Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota, Colorado, Maryland, and Illinois. Find your store here.
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Computers With Causes gives donated computers to people in need, including low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
You can request your free computer on the website, but note that not everyone may qualify for one.
The organization will ask for more information to determine your needs and eligibility, including running a background and reference check.
You’ll usually hear from the organization within 30 days of your application if they’re able to assist you.
This organization helps youth all over the world get access to technology they need to learn.
The donated computers and technology typically go to schools and educational facilities to help children become digitally literate.
So, if you know a school district or facility that is highly in need of technology, like those in underserved communities and developing countries, you can contact the organization to see if it can help.
The National Cristina Foundation asks for donations of laptops and computers from businesses and corporations to gift to people in need.
Organizations can also donate cash to help the foundation buy the computers it needs to donate.
AFTRR is the organization that makes the National Cristina Foundation’s donations get to the people who need them most.
This organization works to refurbish used computers to get them into the hands of eligible people.
It partners with other organizations, like Tech for Troops, to hand out the donated computers.
You can send an email to AFTRR to learn more about the program and the requirements to apply.
With Causes focuses on charitable donations for disadvantaged people, arts programs, housing development programs, and several other types of programs and individual needs.
Use the online form to explain what you need and a little bit about your current situation, and With Causes will try to help, if possible.
The On It Foundation works to increase technology in places that need it most, like underserved communities and schools.
People can donate computers to the organization, and you might be able to get one by contacting the organization and learning more about its eligibility requirements.
Everyone On gives individuals and families without internet service and computers the chance to get affordable ones.
The organization partners with internet service providers for affordable internet plans, and devices typically come through donations to Everyone On, although there are partnered device providers as well.
You can learn more about what’s in your area here.
Check Out Resources on Disability.gov
If you’re a person with a disability, you might be eligible for assistance through a government program for people with disabilities.
Disability.gov offers information about the various programs you could sign up for, including those for free computers or assistive technology to help you at home, school, or work.
If you have a case manager in your area, you can also check with them for further assistance.
Find Discounted Laptops for Students with Notebooks for Students
Grade school and college students may be able to get discounted laptops and notebooks from this organization.
The laptops are available for students who are in traditional, homeschooling, or online school environments.
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Best of all, each laptop comes with a free 4-year warranty that includes hardware repair, software installation, virus removal, and other helpful benefits.
Get Assistive Technology from the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program
CAP provides assistive technology to specific groups of people, including active duty service members and employees of the Department of Defense.
If a computer can help you work or perform daily tasks due to a disability or special need, you may be eligible for a free one through the organization.
Other Ways to Get a Free Computer
If you don’t qualify for a free computer from one of the programs above, you may be able to find one with one of these other tips.
Browse Craigslist’s Free Sections
Craigslist is a great place to find lots of stuff near you to buy, but you can also use its Free section to find free stuff.
And you never know, you may be able to find a computer there (my local Free section does have them sometimes!).
Set a reminder to browse your Free section each day, and remember to look at other surrounding areas too.
If you get lucky and find one, send a message to the poster to see when you can meet to pick it up.
Look on Freecycle
Freecycle is a community-based site on which you can find things people are giving away for free.
Once you find your local Freecycle community, you can either browse open listings or post your own to let others know exactly what you’re looking for.
Then, others can respond to your listing and you can chat with each other to set up a meeting time and place if you’re interested in their computer.
If your area doesn’t have a Freecycle community, you can always start your own!
Ask Local Libraries and Schools
Schools and libraries usually upgrade their computer systems every few years to keep them in good working order for students and patrons.
Your local schools and library branches might have a contract with a computer recycling center to take all their old computers off their hands.
But you can always see if you’re able to snag one or two before they get recycled or donated.
These places might also be connected to other resources they can tell you about to help you get a free laptop or PC.
Ask Your Employer
Does your place of employment use computers?
If so, is your boss looking to upgrade them any time soon?
You might want to kindly ask if you can take one of the old ones when it’s time for the upgrade.
Many bosses would be happy to help out an employee get a free computer rather than toss it in the trash.
You might also see if there’s a stipend available from your job to help you get a computer.
Go to an Online School or College
Some online K-12 schools and colleges give their students laptops to use for school purposes for free!
It usually goes against their policies to use the laptop for personal tasks, like checking your personal email or chatting with friends on social media.
But if you really need a computer for school use, this is an excellent way to do it.
Here are a few online colleges that give laptops or other technology, like iPads:
- Ohio State University
- Wake Forest University
- Bethel University
- Indiana State University
- John’s University
Get a Free Laptop for College Students Using the Open Education Database
The Open Education Database helps you find more colleges that give you laptops or iPads for your schoolwork.
There are also some on the list that have laptop rentals and affordable laptops with student discounts.
Ask Your School
If you’re already enrolled in a school or college, you might even be able to ask an academic advisor if the school can help you get the computer you need for classes.
Many of them have grant programs specifically designed to help students in need, or they might be able to find someone to donate a computer to you or the funds to buy one.
Find Your Free Laptop Today
With the many resources and ideas listed above, you can hopefully find a free computer or laptop that fits your needs for personal, school, or work use.
Fortunately, there are lots of government programs and organizations that help people in need, whether they have a low income or have hit a financial bump in the road.
If you’re applying for any income-based programs, make sure you have plenty of documentation to prove your eligibility, as almost any program will ask for proof.
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