Qualified Iowa residents can take advantage of the free government cell phone program. Both SafeLink Wireless and Assurance Wireless offer free government cell phones along with free talk time. Although ReachOut Wireless is another company that offers free government cell phones, as of this writing, September 2011, their program is not approved in the state of Iowa.
The free government cell phone program is made possible as a result of the federal Lifeline/Link-Up program.
Discounted Phone Program
As an Iowa resident, you also have the alternative option to sign up for the discounted home phone program. If the free cell phone program isn’t for you, you can save money off of your regular home phone bill. If you qualify, you can save around $8.25 a month.
Some phone companies may offer a larger savings and some a little less. To find out how much of a savings your phone company gives, visit the Lifeline Support website (Lifeline Support is co-administered by the FCC and the Universal Services Administrative Company). Once there, click on the state of Iowa on the US map to see the listing of phone companies and their discounts.
In addition to discounts, eligible residents who are installing new phone lines can offset some of the installation cost through the Link-Up program. The Link-Up will pay up to 50% of the installation costs (maximum $30). For Iowa residents who live on federally recognized tribal lands the maximum increases to $70.
Qualifying for the Free or Discounted Phone Program
Since these programs were created to helow-incomeome individuals and households, the eligibility requirements state that you must participate in at least one of the following government assistance programs:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Program (TANF)
- National School Lunch Program (NSL)
If you don’t participate in one of the above programs but have a household income equal to or less than 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, you also qualify.
Applying for Phone Service
If you wish to apply for the free government cell phone program, visit either the SafeLink or Assurance Wireless website and complete the application online. Assurance makes it a little easier because they do have a downloadable application that you can complete and return to them. Keep in mind that you must provide proof of eligibility.
To apply for the discounted phone service download and complete the application and send it to your phone company.
Things to Consider
- The application process is not a speedy one. It takes about a month for the application to be processed and approved. If you have any questions regarding the status of the application, call your phone company.
- You may only apply for one of the phone services. You may not participate in both the free cell phone program and the home discounted program.
- If you opt for the free cell phone program you must have a valid mailing address. Safe link and Assurance Wireless will not mail cell phones to PO boxes or temporary housing locations.