Today, most students are being educated remotely because of the looming COVID-19 threat. This means most students rely on laptops to attend their online classes.
However, not all students are fortunate enough to afford a new laptop. Some have old laptops that can’t support the required software. Others struggle to complete their classwork on their small-screen smartphones.
Let’s not forget that some households share a computer or laptop, making it hard for parents to work online and other siblings to attend online classes.
But all is not lost! In some countries such as the UK, students without the means to attend online classes can receive free government tablets and laptops. In the US, while there are no official government sponsored free laptop programs, many educational and other institutions offer laptops to students if they meet certain criteria. If you want to know how to get a free laptop from the government or your educational institution, read on.
When Can a Student Count On Free Laptops From the Government in the UK
Students who don’t have laptops or tablets might have a hard time navigating the new homeschooling environment. Thankfully, the UK government has offered to supply high school and college students with over 1.3 million laptops amid the current COVID-19 epidemic. This will allow many disadvantaged students to study remotely who would otherwise never have had the opportunity.
Benefactors of free laptops for students in the UK include:
- Students with no digital devices in their household or who’s only available device is a smartphone
- Children and young individuals with special education needs and disabilities
- Students at hospital schools
- Disadvantaged 16 to 18 years students at sixth-form colleges whose education is disrupted
- Students with a social worker or care leavers
- Children in the year 10 to 19 who cannot access the device and whose family can’t manage the cost
For a full list of criteria please visit the GOV.UK website. For Now more than ever, the availability of a laptop and access to the internet is vital to every student. Only with the help of a tablet, computer or laptop can a student fully conduct online classes and write essays.
By seeking homework help, students can focus on attending online classes and doing other time-sensitive assignments. As you can see, a laptop is a basic necessity for all students today. So, the government must provide free laptops and reliable internet connections to students who cannot afford one themselves.
How to Apply For a Free Laptop From the Government in the UK
The government is offering free laptops, tablets, and 4G wireless routers through the Department for Education (DfE).
Sadly, students or families can’t apply for laptops, tablets, and internet access directly. It’s the role of the schools to broker agreements with the government and technology providers for the number of technology devices their students require.
But if a school or college isn’t aware of the disadvantaged or struggling students, they won’t be able to place an order for sufficient laptops and tablets. So, the first step is to contact your kids’ school first.
It’s estimated that over 1.8 million students can’t learn remotely because they don’t have the necessary tech. While the government delivered about 900,000 laptops and tablets during the first 10 months of the COVID-19 outbreak, the tech devices are still not enough to meet the needs of every kid.
Now that pandemic has brought to life what most students go through: the lack of laptops, tablets, or computers to do their essay assignments at home. We hope we might see some shift in focus by the government and people to ensure every kid has the home tech needed, just in case there are future lockdowns.
University students with lifelong health conditions or learning problems like dyspraxia and dyslexia can qualify for a £5,849 Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA) to buy a specialist computer. But there’s a catch! A student needs to throw in £200 for the computer.
How to Get Free Laptops for Students in the US
Unfortunately, in the USA the government doesn’t offer direct aid through free laptops to students. However, there are a large number of non-profit organisations that offer laptops to students who meet certain criteria. These devices will also have the added benefit of allowing students to get help with their homework online (ie. help me with homework requests but instead of in person via online platforms). Many new services in Canada and the US have experts who offer high-quality homework aid at affordable prices which are can be especially important for students who may need extra help with school due for socioeconomic or other reasons.
Contact Your Local Library
Many public libraries have active programs running that offer disadvantaged students free laptops and tablets for their studies. Google libraries in your area and give them a call to find out if they might be able to assist.
Contact Your School
This may sound obvious, but public schools have been offering more and more free laptops to students since the COVID pandemic has shifted so much learning online. They may be able to help if you can motivate to them that your situation is dire and you really need the help.
If your current school can’t help, call around at other local schools and find out if switching schools may be an option if another school offers laptops and your situation is desperate.
Below we have listed a number of charities and other community organizations and services for you to review.
While there are a lot of organisations out there who claim to offer free laptops, unfortunately many of them are not well supported and we have carefully selected the options below as active charity organisations with a strong following and active marketing as to not waste your time with empty promises from organisations that are well intended but unlikely to be able to help.
Even then, be prepared to be patient and keep in mind your chances of a free laptop may be extremely small unless you have a very strong case to make for needing a free laptop, for example disabilities or extremely dire socioeconomic conditions.
Computers With Causes
Computers with Causes is a nationwide non-profit organization which accepts donations of electronics nationwide. You can apply on their website, though as they state they receive thousands of donations a year and can only cater to those in the most dire situations.
With Causes is another great option worth exploring especially if your situation is extremely dire and you can put together a good motivational letter.
Freecycle is a community based initiative that allows anyone to gift other members of the community in their area with items they might need. Although laptops might be rarer than other more common items listed, you’d be surprised how many people in your community have old electronics that they may be wiling to gift to a student in dire need.
Many online colleges and some other schools also offer free laptops to students as part of their tuition.
The following colleges offer free laptops to all of their students. If you are able to qualify for some kind of financial aid or have a means to afford college, then these colleges won’t require you to bring your own laptop.
- Chatham University
- Seton Hill
- Northwest Missouri State University
- Full Sail University
- St. John’s University
- Widener University
- Stevens Henager College
For more details on these colleges checkout the OEDb website.
Now that online and distance learning are the new norms. Young people need education tech devices more than ever. Through free laptops and tablets, disadvantaged students can continue learning today and in the years to come.
No child should miss a class or access to educational resources online because he or she lacks a laptop, computer, or tablet.