If you're constantly fighting over one computer at home, it's time to stop the madness! The good news is that various government, nonprofit and non-governmental entities offer free laptops (or at least deeply discounted ones), especially to low-income earners.
Sounds amazing, doesn't it?
I hate to tell you that finding legit places that offer free laptops is hard. Yes, a quick Google search can throw up some results, but some of these free laptop offers simply don't exist. If you are struggling with finances, you need proper information and genuine sources.
Luckily for you, this article will tell you everything you need to know about getting free laptops for low-income families, students, veterans and people with disabilities.
Ready to get your free laptop? Let's dive right in!
Can You Really Get Free Computers?
Nothing of value is free, or so you may have heard. However, if you know where to look, there are ways to obtain a free computer.
Some government programs and nonprofit organizations recognize that providing technology for free or at a low cost to deserving people is greatly beneficial to their further education and job opportunities.
In most cases, status as a low-income household or student will increase your likelihood of getting a free laptop. So, YES, you can really get a free computer! Just keep in mind that you'll have a better shot at getting a free laptop if you're willing to accept one that's a few years old or refurbished than if you try holding out for a current model.
How To Get a Free Laptop
There are a few options for those looking to get a free laptop…if you qualify. Most organizations will ask you to undergo an application process that usually targets low-income families.
With that out of the way, I am presenting this list of legit ways to get a free laptop. You may have to put a little effort into getting one. However, your efforts will eventually prove worthwhile.
1. With Causes
This American Charity operates in all states of the U.S. It helps donate free computers and laptops to low-income families and students that can't afford one. Priority is also given to the elderly, disabled, and returning military members.
With Causes accept donations from the public. They refurbish these free laptops before distributing them to families and students who lack sufficient resources to buy new laptops.
You must apply through their website. On the form, you can explain what your situation is and why you specifically need a laptop. They review every help request, case by case. You'll be contacted within 30 days.
Keep in mind that With Causes does receive many requests, but this is normally the case with most organizations on this list.
2. World Computer Exchange
World Computer Exchange (WCE) accepts donations of desktop and laptop computers and sells them for cheap to organizations in developing countries. WCE generally targets low-income youths. That's why they put the computers in a community setting – to access deserving young applicants.
Organizations in these countries must fill out an online form to request these computers. They'll also need to share their overall budget and their plan for using the computers. To minimize shipping costs, the organization ships its donations in bulk (often up to 700 desktop computers at a time).
The computers are loaded with educational content, network gear, and free peripherals. World Computer Exchange works closely with the government, schools, libraries, and NGOs.
3. The National Cristina Foundation
This private operating foundation focuses on advancing digital inclusion by creating awareness of the value of technology reuse. Unlike other organizations that give free computers to individuals, the National Cristina Organization focuses on organizations with goals of helping others.
These include nonprofits and government agencies that help at-risk students, rehabilitation, people with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged people. When applying, it's crucial that you openly describe your program's objectives, overall needs, training, activities, and outcomes.
Every eligible establishment must be based in the United States. If you are not a public school or government agency, you must prove your Federal exempt status. If your application goes through, you'll receive an Award of Property Agreement that spells out the conditions regarding the receipt of laptops and their use.
4. Salvation Army
If you do not qualify for a free computer from the National Cristina Foundation, you may be able to get one from the Salvation Army – one of the biggest nonprofit organizations that offer its services across the entire country.
Salvation Army may not provide these resources directly. They partner with various stores to make it possible.
If you're deemed eligible for their giveaway program, they can refer you to one of the stores near where you live, and you can collect your free laptop from there. You can find your nearest local salvation army store here.
5. Pcs for People
PCs for People has a mission to provide affordable technology for all. The Microsoft registered refurbisher distributes laptops and discounted high-speed internet service to eligible recipients. Since it's Microsoft affiliated, all computers have Windows-licensed copies.
To be eligible to obtain a free or discounted laptop, you'll need to be currently enrolled in an income-based government assistance program (free or reduced lunch, Medicaid/Medical Assistance, Head Start, etc.) and/or have an income below the 200 percent poverty level.
The application process is straightforward. Instead of applying online in advance, just visit one of their store locations in Ohio, Minnesota, Maryland, and Colorado.
Don't forget to carry a photo identity and an eligibility proof document dated within the last 6 months. All computers in stores are priced from $0-$150 and come with a 90-day hardware warranty.
If there are no PCs for People stores in your area, you can buy a laptop online and get free shipping. Just remember to upload proof of eligibility with your order.
EveryoneOn deploys an affordable connectivity program to families whose annual income is less than $35k. The nonprofit organization has partnered with a network of 650+ Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and device providers to serve under-resourced persons across the country.
The program is available in almost every state. Its mission is to create economic and social opportunities by connecting low-income families to affordable internet services. Since 2012, EveryoneOn has connected 784k+ people!
Besides the internet, some of the providers listed on EveryoneOn's website may be able to provide you with cheap or free laptops as well. To find out opportunities near you, use their offer locator tool. You'll be asked to enter your zip code and answer some questions about your household.
Scouring classifieds on Craigslist can help locate a free laptop. The well-known marketplace has a “free” section where you can nab a great deal. Search basic keywords such as “computer” or “laptop” to see if anything comes up.
Some people have laptops that they no longer need and give away to anyone interested. A great laptop will go fast, so you will want to act fast. In fact, there could be a good chance it's already gone, so be prepared to keep your finger near the refresh button.
While it's possible to find one that still has life in it, the free laptop you pick through the platform may need some work or replacement parts. Some sellers may be willing to trade their laptops for something else. Text the person and see if he/she is interested in trading for something you have and no longer need.
If you're a college student, keep an eye out for listings posted around your campus.
Local Places That Give You a Free Laptop
If you can't seem to find someone near you who wants to give a free laptop away, don't fret! Local laptop donations may sound too good to be true, but if you have persistence and a little luck, there are local places that will help you get these portable computers for free or cheap.
For donation offerings near you, search:
Freecycle is a nonprofit and volunteer movement made up of people who give and receive recycled items, including laptops, in their own towns and neighborhoods. The goal of this worldwide network is to build communities and keep stuff out of landfills.
Freecycle has chapters in almost every major city. As of February 2021, there are 5,340 groups with over 9 million members worldwide. You'll need to find and join a group near you.
When you join a group, you can see all the free online stuff people give away. If you see a laptop you like, send a request, and if you're lucky, you'll get a response. Check multiple times a day since free laptops will probably go fast. Or you can gather some courage and post a listing explaining why you need a laptop for free.
SmartRiverside is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2006 to provide high-technology public use solutions to low-income families in Riverside, California. You have to apply for a free laptop to be considered if you live in California and have an income of less than $45k.
If you qualify for the free laptop program, you must complete a free computer training course for 8 hours before you receive it.
10. Seattle Community Network
SCN operates a Computer Giveaway Project that offers free and cheap internet-ready laptops to people who need them. Individuals and businesses donate computers.
If you need a laptop, contact them. The organization admits that the waiting list is quite long, so it can take as long as 4-6 months to receive a laptop.
Interconnection is another resource recommended by the Seattle Community Network. If you are a low-income or a qualified student, check if you qualify for low-cost computer resources.
Free Laptops for College Students
Laptops are a ubiquitous part of a college student's educational experience.
Students use laptops to take notes on word processing programs, use educational software like Blackboard to check grades and assignments, and communicate with professors and other classmates via email.
Some programs of study (like video production or graphic design) may require more-robust computer systems. Buying the appropriate laptop on your own will probably cost between $500-$1,000 if you buy from a retail store or website.
Some colleges provide laptops that students can lease for free during the semester. You won't get to keep the laptop when you graduate, but you will have the assurance of computer access while you're in school. What's more, is that tech support is often part of the deal.
Other colleges offer laptop grants to those who demonstrate financial need. Here are 3 universities that offer free laptops for college students:
11. Northwest Missouri State University
Northwest Missouri State University provides laptops to all degree-program students at the beginning of their studies. The laptops are internet ready and have all the basic features to help you study. Depending on availability and enrollment status, laptop models may vary between students.
You must return the laptop upon completion of a degree or if you drop below a certain enrolment status. During summer breaks, you can keep the laptop for a fee of $75.
12. Southern New Hampshire University
SNHU is a leader in online studying and is one of the best universities in innovation. The university has partnered with Apple (Student Discounts) and Dell (Dell University Program) to provide students with deeply discounted laptops.
The laptops can be used to access the internet, library databases, emails, notes, and other resources.
13. Dakota State University
Dakota State University embraces technology to deliver a better academic environment and make its classrooms more interactive and exciting. As part of a campus initiative, they provide free laptops for college students.
First-year students get a new Fujitsu T Series laptop in the fall. You also enjoy universal access to secure wired and wireless networks across campus. You can opt-out of the program after completing 59 credits or more.
Check if your college or Uni offers free laptops for college students. Keep in mind that only a few institutions can afford to offer this opportunity, so don't be discouraged if you find out your college isn't among them.
Laptops for Students
High school students also need laptops for their studies, which can be expensive. If you're a student, you very well know the pain of saving money to buy something for yourself. Many schools are starting to participate in laptop programs.
If you're unsure whether your school offers free laptops, pay your school's financial aid office a visit, and a counselor can point you in the right direction. The counselor may know other avenues to obtain a no or low-cost computers, either through the school or a third party.
14. The ONIT Foundation
The ONIT (Opportunities Necessary to Increase Technology) Foundation was founded in 1999 to provide low-income families (with at least one kid enrolled in a K-12 school and receiving free/reduced lunches at school) access to free technology.
You can submit your application online or reach out to their local offices. The application must include the student's name and details (age, grade, school name and contact info), parent/guardian's name and address, and proof that the student qualifies for free or reduced school lunch.
If you qualify for this program, you will receive a free laptop, computer training programs and free internet access.
Free laptops for students are based on availability. If they're not available, the foundation will place your name on a waiting list. You can buy a discounted laptop through the Jump on It! Program if you don't qualify for a free one.
Government Assistance Programs for Students
If you don't qualify for any of the programs we have discussed so far, worry not. The United States government provides all types of aid, including computers, to needy students and their families.
It does this through its various benefit programs aimed at bridging the digital divide and helping students from economically weaker families to get free laptops.
If you're a student living in the U.S., then there are many ways you get free government laptops along with the internet without much effort. The government will not directly purchase you a laptop. Instead, it will give you money as a grant to buy one.
Here's how to get free laptops from students from the government:
If you have been impacted by a recent national disaster in the United States, visit DisasterAssistance.gov and enter your state and city or ZIP code to check whether your area has been declared for Individual Assistance.
You'll get a list of the closest FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs). Contact your state's emergency management agency if no resource is close to you.
The mission of Benefits.gov is simple – to provide government assistance to Americans in need.
Benefits.gov partners with government agencies to help families and individuals identify what federal benefits they qualify for. It has resources for all the 50 states listed on the site. Helping people who need to get access to technology is one of the benefits Benefits.gov offers.
Those who need free laptops for students from the government can browse through the various categories and see what's available. Check whether you meet the eligibility requirements to become a laptop beneficiary in your state.
Free Laptops for People With Disabilities
People with disabilities may be limited in the type of jobs they can do. This means that, more often than not, they have low incomes that cannot sustain them and their families.
Thankfully, some grants and programs enable people with disabilities to get free laptops. You must meet eligibility criteria, provide verifiable proof and complete all documentation. Within a few weeks, you get your free laptop!
17. Jim Mullen Foundation
A little backstory. Jim Mullen was a Chicago cop who was shot in the face while on duty back in the 90s. The shooting left him paralyzed from the neck down, and he was gifted Tracer by GIveTech technology. This technology allowed Jim to use a computer just like anyone else.
After the incident, Jim created this foundation to help people with physical impairments like him get computers for free.
18. Beaumont Foundation
This foundation focuses on improving the lives of disadvantaged youth, disabled people, the elderly, and children and spouses of fallen heroes. It does this by providing vital services the mentioned persons may not have access to otherwise.
Since the foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has provided over $166 million to help people facing economic challenges in life. If your family has lost a military member, the foundation will try and make contact through your nearest Casualty Assistance office.
Over the years, many spouses and dependent children of military support have benefited from this program. Laptops are one of the gifts the charity gives. The children must be 18 years or younger and can include stepchildren. For further assistance, the foundation also makes grant money available to eligible students.
As the name suggests, this Department of Labor website offers valuable resources for people with disabilities. The resources include finding technology, work, and housing to lead a comfortable life.
The technology section is where you can receive assistive technology to use a laptop. It's advisable you keep this site bookmarked as the resources available from the government keep changing.
Free Laptops for Veterans
Veteran benefits are widespread, and ensuring you benefit from them (if you qualify) is so essential in cutting costs.
20. Computers With Causes
As part of the Giving Center program, this organization accepts computers, tablets, laptops, and other electronics. Donations from businesses are tax-deductible, and the computers go toward a future learning program, disabled vet, or foster home in need. This means that the program is a win-win.
Since they receive thousands of requests yearly, not everyone who asks for a laptop will receive one. You'll need to complete an online form to apply for a free laptop. The organization performs a strict background, reference, and need assessment check to weed out false requests.
From the looks of it, if your case is genuine, your chances could be pretty good. You'll need to be patient after applying as it can take some weeks for Computers With Causes to get back to you.
Since all applications are valid for 30 days, you can re-apply if you don't hear from them within that time frame.
Free Laptop Giveaway
Still interested to learn how to get a free laptop? Fancy giveaways? Try this one!
21. Dell Advantage Sweepstakes
You can actually get a free, recent model laptop from Dell through their Dell Advantage Laptop-a-Day Giveaway. Dell is a well-known computer brand. Being such a big name in the world of technology, Dell understands their corporate social responsibility. Giveaways are one of the ways to give back to the community.
As you might imagine, just like other sweepstakes and contests, these giveaways last for a specified period. So ensure you enter before they end. You must be 18 years old at the time of entry.
How Can I Get a Cheap Laptop
No, it's not free, but buying a laptop through the following places may land you a pretty sizable discount compared to purchasing one randomly online or at a store. However, do comparison shopping to scoop the best deal.
This affiliate marketing platform offers cashback when you shop online. Stores that you visit through Rakuten's site give them a commission, which it shares with you, the customer.
Through Rakuten, you can get most of the things you buy every day (including laptops). When you use Rakuten, expect to receive 1-40 percent cash back on purchases you'd make anyway.
ConnectAll is a low-income store that sells deeply discounted laptops to low-income individuals and nonprofit organizations. To get a detailed qualification criterion, check out their website.
You get a 1-year warranty and pre-installed software on all purchases. Prices start from $109, and there's free shipping on all InterConnection computers. You can get all the top brands, including Apple, HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer and Toshiba.
As the name suggests, this website sells refurbished Dell laptops to the general public at discounted prices. Refurbished laptops are cheaper than new ones, meaning they're a great way to get your hands on a laptop from a big brand at a fraction of the price.
I recommend it if you want to save money on a Dell laptop.
If you look on Amazon, you may be able to find refurbished laptops that are typically sold at a much lesser price than a new laptop. The best thing about these laptops is that there are no qualifications or income limits – anyone can buy them.
Do you live in an area serviced by Comcast Internet? If so, you may qualify for the Internet Essentials from the Comcast program!
To be eligible, you must be a low-income earner under Housing Assistance, Medicaid, National School Lunch Program, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), SSI, etc. Another requirement is you will need to not have had Comcast Internet in the last 3 months.
You can purchase a laptop at a discounted price once your application is approved. The laptops are refurbished, and the manufacturers will vary, but when they appear at your doorstep, they'll be ready to use.
This program also offers affordable internet service at just $9.95/month + tax for download speeds up to 25 Mbps.
Notebooks for Students
This nonprofit organization offers discount laptops to students attending college, high school, primary school, homeschool, and BYOD.
There is no income requirement to qualify for cheap laptops, free service shipping and a free 4-year warranty. It's not just students; faculty and staff may also buy discounted laptops for themselves.
The goal of the organization is to break even after every school year. As such, they don't generate profit at the student's expense.
What Can I Use Instead of a Laptop
Let's look at some alternatives you can use that are more cost-effective and efficient.
Netbooks are smaller, lighter and cheaper than laptop computers. You can run native apps like presentation software, spreadsheets and word processors on them.
Newer Chromebook models have a better design, a smarter OS, faster processors, and lower prices. The Chrome Web browser enables you to work using cloud-based productivity apps like Google Drive's word processor, Gmail, spreadsheet, calendar, and presentation apps.
Smartphones combine the form factor of mobile phones with much of the computing power of tablets. Data is stored on an internal flash drive or cloud-based file storage services. Don't forget to look for a free phone case for your smartphone.
Where Can I Get a Free Desktop?
If you're looking for a free desktop computer, there are a few places you can look. One option is to check with your local library. Many libraries offer public computers that you can use for free.
Another option is to check with a local community center or senior center. Some of these organizations offer computer classes and have computers for students.
Finally, you can also check with the organizations listed above. By taking advantage of these resources, you should be able to get a free or low-cost desktop computer.
How To Get Free Internet
So, you've managed to get a free laptop, but you're now fretful about affording the internet.
The internet plays a vital role in the world today in almost all sectors. Be it doing research, online studying, watching movies online, or communicating, internet use has become the center of everything. It's no longer a luxury service but a necessity.
When using the internet, various charges are inclusive, and sometimes you may not afford them. Luckily, there are programs designed to help you be connected if you have struggles in paying for the internet.
Lifeline is one such government program designed to ensure that low-income households have low-cost internet service. The program provides subsidized broadband internet connection (phone and internet services) to Americans whose income falls at 135 percent federal poverty line or less.
Hopefully, this article has answered your question about how to get a free laptop. You don't have to break the bank. These sources mentioned here allow you to keep up with the times and stay connected, at least for the moment.
Try 2-3 methods, and repeat your efforts until they pay off. In some cases, you can get a brand-new laptop for free. It would be best to understand each program's ground rules of eligibility for free laptop and internet service. A common requirement is your annual income is at or below the poverty line considered by the government.
What are some other ways you know of getting free laptops? Have you tried any of these methods? Please leave a comment below to share your experience!