In today’s world, it is virtually impossible to get a lot done efficiently (or at all) without a computer.
From applying to jobs, completing college work, paying bills, and much more; not having a computer or laptop makes these tasks 10 times harder than they have to be.
Thankfully, there are over 25+ legit ways to get a free laptop or desktop computer (or highly discounted).
For the most part, these programs to get free laptops are for either low-income individuals or students.
But still, if you don’t qualify for a free laptop, we are including some ways to get extremely cheap laptops for those of you that are just outside of qualification.
Below, we list the legitimate ways to get a free laptop for real. Stay within this list and you will likely avoid the free laptop scams out there.
How to Get a Free Laptop
The organizations and programs listed are all free to apply and should cost you zero dollars to apply and obtain a free laptop to satisfy your question of “how can I get a free laptop” (if you qualify, of course).
The OnIt Foundation
The OnIt Foundation offers a clear path to a free laptop if you qualify. To qualify, you must:
- Have a child actively enrolled in K-12
- Receive free (or reduced) lunch
- Attend a public school. United States only.
If you don’t qualify for a free laptop, the OnIt foundation started the Jump OnIt Foundation which provides highly discounted laptops (which we talk about below).
It’s also important to remember with all of these programs that it is entirely possible you won’t get a free laptop, even if you qualify. This is simply because they may lack the supply, and you’ll have to either wait, apply elsewhere, or take advantage of cheap laptops from an organization like Jump OnIt.
Komputers 4 R Kids If you are in Southern California, Komputers 4 R Kids is doing great work in building up school computer labs and getting computers in homes of students that don’t currently have access to any. You will have to contact them directly to see if you qualify and if they have any laptops available.
Computers With Causes
Computers With Causes donates computers to kids, returning military, and households in need. According to their application page, they get an overwhelming number of requests every year and so they choose who to donate laptops to based on those with the most need.
With Causes collects many donations (from laptops to cars) to then distribute to those in need. They review every submission on a case by case basis, and to be eligible you need to:
- Live in a low-income household or,
- Live in a women’s shelter for battered women or,
- Be a military member or veteran
Their application process is fairly simple and only asks for basic information and an explanation of your needs & situation.
Smart Riverside Inclusion Program This is a geographically exclusive program for free laptops, called the Smart Riverside Inclusion Program. To be eligible, you must: Live in Riverside, CA Earn less than $45,000 per year Take a free computer class (in English or Spanish) After you are approved and take their free 8-hour computer course, you will receive your laptop. It seems like a lot of hoops to jump through, but the free class and free laptop are really meant to help low-income families improve their education, communication, and potential.
Technology for the Future
Technology for the Future is a big advocate for getting computers in the hands of students. While the application process is not clear on their site, they have an email & phone number you can use to easily reach out and see what steps (and requirements) are needed to get a free laptop.
World Computer Exchange
The World Computer Exchange is a great organization that is directly helping those in developing countries or that have been hit by a natural disaster. Besides that, the only other requirement it seems is you must be under 24 years old. Each computer comes loaded with Linux and its own content pack which includes health, agricultural, environmental, technology, and other educational content.
To apply, go to their application page and you will find documents to fill out to then send to them.
Salvation Army or Goodwill
You may be able to find that some Salvation army chapters might be able to help connect you with a free laptop (along with many things). This is an especially great resource to use if you are in having a rough time financially and can’t afford any other options. Along with Salvation Army, you can try a Goodwill location near you to see if they can be of any help.
Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse
Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse has a useful map that can help connect you or your organization with free computers near you. There are 75+ locations across the United States on their map that all help with getting free laptops and computers to those in need.
Some of the locations on this map are not entirely free though and do charge some to obtain a computer. But it seems to be a mix, so search through the map until you find something close that matches your financial capabilities.
Everyone On is a non-profit (like many others on this list) that helps low-income homes get connected to the internet and access to a laptop. The amazing part?
They’ve helped connect 600,000+ people to the internet since 2012.
And they plan to help 1,000,000+ by 2020.
Contact them directly to see how they may be able to help you get a free (or low cost) laptop.
Freecycle is an amazing community-driven site. With 9,000,000+ members worldwide, the entire goal of Freecycle is to prevent things from ending up in the trash by giving them to other members in their community. From laptops to bikes.
To use the site, you need to find your local board and see if there are any laptops on there. If so, reach out to the poster and arrange to pick it up. If there are none posted, you can always make a request post.
Contests / Giveaways
This is a long shot, but entering legitimate contests and free laptop giveaways can be a great way to get a brand new laptop for free without doing anything. Stack Social sometimes gives away laptops, so be sure to check back from time to time. Alternatively, you can search on Twitter, Facebook, or a search engine for giveaways that are going on right now to enter.
*Note: Be very careful with this option. This is by far the most common styled free laptop scam around, so only enter contests that are 100% legitimate.*
Although your local library probably won’t have any computers to bring home, they often have at least a few computers to use for free. Generally, they also have free internet access to utilize the computers with.
One thing to remember is that to access library computers you will likely need a library card (usually free) and will be limited to your time on the computer. But, it can be great in a pinch!
Contact Your Local or State Department of Human Services
There are currently no federal programs to connect low-income individuals with free laptops or free desktop computers (basically, there is no such thing as a “free government laptop” right now).
You can try to contact your local or state Department of Human Services to see if there are any programs or laptop grants available. You may also find out by contacting the Department of Human Services that local municipalities are partnered with non-profit organizations that can help assist you in obtaining a free laptop as well.
Free Laptops for College Students
There are a few ways to get a free laptop for students in college, but not many. There really aren’t that many programs specifically designed for college students to connect them with free laptops.
Instead, you will need to find one of the other programs listed on this post and qualify for them if you are looking for a truly free laptop for college. But, for those specific ways to get a free or cheap laptop for college students, they are listed here.
Colleges with Free Laptops for Students
Going to a college that gives their students a laptop is a great bonus. While it won’t be entirely free (since you are paying tuition), it still gets rid of the out-of-pocket cost for you.
The Open Education Database has done a fantastic job at curating colleges that offer free laptops for being a student.
Notebooks for Students
While Notebooks for Students doesn’t seem to give away free laptops for college students, they do sell highly discounted laptops with a 4-year warranty to students. It’s an option!
Depending on where you go to school, what program you are in, and other factors; you may be able to apply for laptop grants. Ask your financial aid department if they may have any leads in regards to laptop grants available to you.
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Highly Discounted Laptops & Computers
You may not qualify for a free laptop, or you may simply not be near any organizations that are able to help you out.
The below resources should help you find a laptop at a highly discounted rate that still won’t break the bank.
The Jump OnIt Foundation (started by the OnIt Foundation listed above)
The Jump OnIT Foundation was started by the OnIt Foundation. It’s basically the alternative if you don’t qualify for a free laptop from the OnIt Foundation. You can find laptops starting at around $100, with extra discounts for students, military, and seniors.
PCS for People
PCs for People offer low-cost laptops and desktop computers to those that are currently in an income-based government assistance program and 200% below the current poverty line.
Computer Technology Assistance Corps (CTAC)
The Computer Technology Assistance Corps (CTAC) sells affordable laptops and desktops solely on a “cost-recovery basis.” To qualify for their affordable offerings though, you must relate with one of the following:
- Receive state or federal benefits, such as food stamps (if you don’t, you pay a higher price)
- Be handicapped or disabled
- Receive free or reduced school lunches
Laptops start at around $100 each while desktops start at around $70. Apply on their website to see if you qualify to receive a cost-reduced computer.
Internet Essentials offers low-cost internet. Once you are a customer of Internet Essentials though, they can supply you with an affordable laptop equipped with Microsoft Office, an anti-virus, and a warranty if you qualify.
Connect All, based in Seattle with a physical store to shop in, supplies affordable computers to non-profits or low-income households. If you are not in Seattle, they offer free shipping on all orders and laptops seem to start around $129. All of their computers currently come loaded with Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office.
While you can’t get a free dell laptop directly from the Dell refurbished site, you can definitely find some great deals on some great laptops. Although this is certainly not the cheapest option, it is another avenue you can use if all else fails.
Depending on how old the laptop is, Craigslist or similar marketplaces can sometimes have really great deals for laptops from local sellers.
Certain laptops can go fairly cheap on eBay. I did some research and found that a refurbished ThinkPad T420 from Lenovo (or a similar model) can go for $100-150 on eBay.
These are the laptops used on NASA spaceships!
But, there are definitely other brands that can be found around this range on eBay too. The T420 is just a great “bang for your buck” from what it seems.
Important Things to Know
- Receiving a free laptop could potentially affect your government assistance benefits. Make sure you understand how receiving a free laptop could potentially affect you before receiving it to avoid any issues with your government assistance.
- These laptops aren’t (typically) going to be newer, top of the line, models (don’t expect to get a free Apple laptop – that’s for sure!). But – they will get the job done!
- Some programs may offer other benefits, such as free internet, or other aid. Be sure to always ask.
How to Spot & Avoid Free Laptop Scams
While all of the resources listed here are legitimate (as of this writing), it’s important to remain aware of scams if you end up on other sites not discussed here. While there are surely other organizations and websites out there that offer free or very cheap laptops out there, it’s important to remain safe while on the hunt.
Websites set up to defraud you will never send you a free laptop, and will likely steal your personal information.
Please, never give out personal information unless you know it is a legitimate organization. Especially not:
- Email addresses & passwords
- Social security numbers, date of birth, or drivers license number
- Proof of financial aid
Common Free Laptop Scams
Free computer scams often show themselves in the same places, and it’s important to know where you will likely see them to know what to look out for.
If you come across a survey that seems rather lengthy and salesy and promises a free laptop at the end of it, it’s more likely than not fake. These types of surveys make money off of you when you complete them and typically leave you with nothing. If you want to take surveys and actually get paid for it, make sure to read our stuff on survey sites that pay cash.
Instant Winner Ads
You could be on a totally legitimate website and see an ad that says you won a free laptop or other electronic devices. More often than not, you will never win anything and at best will get a lot of spam in your email. It’s best to keep far away from these ads.
What Can You Do?
To combat these free laptop scams that will cause you nothing but a headache, keep the following tips in mind:
- Look for 3rd party reviews
- Read the Terms & Conditions before applying
- Make sure nothing seems out of place. Things like a lot of typos for example can be a good indicator of a fake offer/program
- Avoid entering any sensitive information when possible. If it’s required, do your due diligence entirely before doing so
- If they have a number, call them and talk to a real person. Scams typically won’t answer.
While these tips won’t protect you all of the time, they are a good place to start when trying to avoid your time being wasted or your information getting stolen. Please use your own best judgment to make these decisions though, as the internet can be a crazy place sometimes.
It’s important to remember a lot of these organizations are there to help people in dire need, so if you can really afford a laptop or computer on your own (or from one of the highly discounted ways we mentioned), please consider it.
But of course, if you are one of those people who would go without a laptop if it weren’t for these organizations, feel free to reach out to them and utilize their resources (that’s what they were made for). Just be prepared to submit proof of income, state aid, and those sorts of things.
Hopefully, this post has been of great help to you. If we’ve missed an avenue to get a free laptop for low-income families or students; please let us know!
Dustyn FergusonDustyn is a personal finance aficionado and the founder of Dime Will Tell where he writes about the experiences he's had with saving money, being debt-free, and building side hustles. He's been featured as an expert resource in publications like Huffington Post, Go Banking Rates, & Reader's Digest.
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