Cellular Service (Phones and Computers)

You may qualify for a free cell phone. Beyond the value for staying in touch with friends and family, this is essential to access emergency services and follow through on employment and educational opportunities.

You can apply directly using the web site listed below or arrange this through the local Department of Social Services office.

In New York State, eligibility is based on income and/or participation in programs such as Medicaid, SNAP, Family Assistance or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Safety Net Assistance, Home Energy Assistance Program, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, and the National School Lunch Program’s. Proof of participation in some programs, such as enrollment letter, may be needed before the service can be approved.

For those with children at home, low cost computers and internet services are available. EveryoneOn.org will help you find low-cost Internet and affordable computers in your area (searches by zipcode). Generally fees are from $10-$20/month plus the purchase of a Google Chromebook (cost is around $250). Also, you can text “connect” to 21-545 or call (877) 947-4321.

If you have a computer, free wireless services are available at all public libraries.

Since 1985, the Lifeline program has provided a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers to ensure that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family and emergency services. In 2005, Lifeline discounts were made available to qualifying low-income consumers on pre-paid wireless service plans in addition to traditional landline service. Lifeline is part of the Universal Service Fund.

If you are interested in applying for the Lifeline Program to receive discounts, or you are trying to locate information in your state, this information is available at LifelineSupport.org. The first step you need to take is to determine if you are eligible for the program. Try using the Pre-Screening Tool to determine your eligibility.



This is a free cellular phone providing text messaging and a fixed number of free monthly minutes so you can make local, national and international calls. It also includes free 911 emergency calls and 411 directory assistance calls, as well as voicemail, caller ID and call waiting services.

Low income and/or participation in one of several public benefits programs trigger eligibility.  Some programs required proof of participation, such as an award letter.  New York State eligibility requirements are listed here.



If you don’t have Internet at home or cost is high, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a U.S. government program run by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program to help low-income households pay for internet service and connected devices like a laptop or tablet.

You are likely eligible if your household’s income is below 200% of the Federal Poverty Line, or if you or someone you live with currently receives a government benefit like SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, WIC, Pell Grant, or Free and Reduced-Price Lunch.

If your household is eligible, you could receive:

  • Up to a $30/month discount on your internet service
  • Up to a $75/month discount if your household is on qualifying Tribal lands
  • A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50)

To read more about the program go to https://www.fcc.gov/acp