Free phones and phone services are available to eligible low-income families through several different programs. Each program is funded by telecommunications companies to ensure that low-income families have access to affordable phones and telecom services.
In general, families who already receive government assistance, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), are eligible. In addition, you may qualify if you earn less than 135% of the federal poverty guidelines for your state.... Families whose children receive free or reduced lunch through the federal government may also be eligible for free phones and phone services through these types of programs.
Where to Find Free Phones & Phone Services
The following programs can help you get free phones, accrue free monthly minutes, and/or establish a landline at a reduced rate. Terms and conditions apply, and programs may not be available in all areas.
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Safelink participants receive a free cell phone and 68 minutes of free airtime each month. Safelink is currently available in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The service will eventually include additional states throughout the U.S.
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Assurance Wireless is a program available through Virgin Mobile that provides participants with a free wireless phone, up to 500 monthly minutes and unlimited texting. The service was originally limited to Michigan, North Carolina, New York, Tennessee, and Virginia, but is now available more broadly throughout the country.
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Lifeline, along with Link Up and Toll Limitation Service (TLS), also provide discounts to low-income families in need of a land-line (or non-cellular) phone. In existence since 1985, the Lifeline program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) and is available through numerous phone companies and/or cell phone carriers. Lifeline saves participants at least $10 per month, and Link Up will pay up to $30 of your home phone start-up fees and/or allow you to borrow up... to $200 toward set-up fees, interest-free, for one year.
More Free Programs for Single Parents
If you're a single parent raising your children on a limited budget, you may qualify for a number of government assistance programs. Examples include Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (also known as 'SNAP' or food stamps), federal housing assistance programs, Medicaid, and child care assistance. Dial 2-1-1 to learn what types of programs area available in you area. Even if you've been told previously that you do not qualify for government assistance, there may be local programs available that can provide temporary help.