How to Get a Free Computer (& Why It’s Easier Than You Think)

Navigating the modern world without a computer is nigh impossible. Thankfully, these organizations will help you get a free computer in no time.

Updated May 20, 2024
Family at home on the computer

Having computer access in the digital age isn't a luxury anymore — it's a basic human need. For low-income families and individuals, finding free personal computers can be difficult. Only so many organizations provide free computers, and there's not always enough supply to meet the demand.

Thankfully, you don't have to jump through hoops to figure out how to get a free computer. With our list of national and local groups, we've jumped through those hoops for you. 

4 National Programs That Provide Free Computers 

If you're looking to get a free computer for yourself or a family member, nationally is a great place to start. There are a few national charities that work to provide computers for low-income individuals and families that you can reach out to. 

PCs for People

PCs for People is a national, nonprofit organization that has provided over 174,000 individuals with PCs by recycling donated computers. To be eligible for this program, you must be less than 200% of the poverty line (or make up to 60% of the area's median income) or be enrolled in an assistance program.

While you can apply for a computer online, you must provide a photo ID and eligibility documentation dated within the last six months.

Computers With Causes

A gifting program run through donations, Computers with Causes offers free computers to families that meet their eligibility requirements. This organization offers tablets, computers, laptops, etc. As a need-based program, they require you to complete a contact form and describe your need.

While the program doesn't list a specific income requirement, it does state it caters to those who "genuinely require assistance," and computer gifts are considered on a case-by-case basis.

The On It Foundation

Catering to K-12 students and their families, the On It Foundation provides donated computers to at-risk youth and families in need. To qualify for a free computer, you must be a K-12 student in a public school and be on the free or reduced lunch program.

To apply for the program, parents must submit a letter of request. This letter must explain their need and how the computer could benefit their child.

Fast Fact

According to GuideStar's 2024 report, the On It Foundation also provides job readiness training and 20 hours of collaborative training to students and families in need.

With Causes

In addition to providing helpful services like gift vehicles and disability assistance, With Causes offers reused and recycled computers for at-risk youth and families.

This service is offered on a case-by-case basis as determined by the board of directors. To apply for a free computer, fill out and mail the Individuals and Family Application to their Clovis, California office. 

How to Find Local Organizations That Gift Free Computers 

In addition to national programs, there are also charitable community organizations and state-run programs that offer free computers for struggling families and individuals. 

Investigate the Technology Programs in Your Area 

Because the waitlist for national programs can be so long, you may want to seek out local programs that provide technology, such as cell phones or computers, to low-income families and individuals. 

For example, these local programs offer various technological services to low-income families. 

  • Computers for Classrooms offers free computers for California residents.
  • Compudopt is a national nonprofit that operates in 43+ cities and works to end the digital divide by providing needful people with pathways to access computers and other devices. 
  • LSA Laptop Loan Program is a program through the University of Michigan that allows students to borrow a MacBook for the entirety of their undergraduate program.
  • Kramden has a Tech Scholars program that offers Durham, North Carolina students K-12 free desktop computers who don't have access to a working home computer. 
Local Technology Programs

Related: What to Do With Old Computers (& How to Get Rid of Them Properly)

Research Charities in Your Local Area 

Not every local organization that offers free computers has a digital footprint. Start your search for a free computer by getting a list of local charities and nonprofits from your city or county government offices. Contact any technology-based ones to see what services they offer, any qualifications, and how to apply.

If you have children in school, the guidance counselor may be able to direct you to a program the school partners with. 

Contact Government Agencies

In areas without a local program, you might find state-funded programs that offer laptops to low-income students, families, and seniors through your local human and family services department. If you get state assistance, contact your caseworker to see if there are any programs that gift home computers and laptops in your area. 

Contact Local Companies 

A less common avenue that could prove fruitful is contacting local companies. Ask if they donate their used equipment, and if so, to what group/where. Even if they only donate to organizations and not individuals, they should be able to give you their name. Once you know where they are getting sent, reach out to that group to see how they distribute the donated computers. They just might have an application or contact you can speak with to get the ball rolling. 

4 Places That Offer Free Computer Access 

If you can't find a free computer program in your area or you're on a waitlist to receive one, the next best option to tide you over while you wait is heading to places that offer free computer use. While there aren't many, the few that do have open and free access to anyone. 


Libraries aren't just repositories of information! They also have a number of technological resources you can use. From printers to copiers to desktops and/or rentable laptops, libraries are perfect for people who don't have consistent computer access.

To access or rent a computer, you must have a library card (which is free to sign up for) or a student ID if you're looking at a university library. So long as you have a local address, you can utilize all of the library's resources. 

Universities & Public School Systems

Educational centers are always trying to democratize technological access for the people in their areas. Contact your public school system or a local university's library to see if they grant access to non-students. Not all of them do — or even have enough access themselves to support the students' needs — but it's worth investigating. 

Community Centers 

How robust a community center is depends on your local government's funding and community participation. But your community center might have a few computers that the public can access. Contact your local government to see what's available. 

Postal & Packaging Companies

Companies like UPS & FedEx have a unique service that includes free computer access at participating locations. These are typically used for small on-the-go needs such as checking an email, printing off a resume or document that needs to be notarized, etc. Call the offices in your area to see if they offer this service and what the specifications are. 

Do I Qualify for a Free Computer? 

Because computers are expensive, the organizations offering these programs may require you to prove your hardship. In addition to providing your name and address, you may be asked to elaborate on several key points about your situation, including: 

  • Your income 
  • Government assistance programs you qualify for and/or are participating in
  • Detailed explanations of any other hardships in your life such as disabilities, medical conditions, etc. 
Need to Know

Every organization's requirements are different. Some may even require you to work a specific number of community service hours as a prerequisite. 

Free Computers Aren't a Pipe Dream 

Trying to navigate modern life without access to a computer is extremely difficult. Despite what mobile companies want you to think, not everything can be done on your cell phone. If you're in between computer access, there are options for you. Don't let your situation overwhelm you! From national to local organizations, all of these places are waiting to help connect you with the tech you need. 

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How to Get a Free Computer (& Why It’s Easier Than You Think)