The Louisiana free government cell phone program has come a long way. Back in April of 2011, free phones were not available to Louisiana residents, only landline discounts. Fortunately, things have changed and several phone companies now offer free government cell phones through the Federal Lifeline program. What this means is qualified Louisiana residents will not only receive a free smartphone, but also free talk/text and data.
For a listing of companies offering free phones, visit the Universal Service Administrative Company website. USAC administers the Federal Lifeline program. Their listings are regularly updated. However, as mentioned on their site, while the listing of companies is updated regularly, not all companies service the entire state of Louisiana. Make sure to contact the phone company to see if they service your area.
Qualifying for Free Lifeline Cell Phone
The purpose of the Louisiana free government cell phone (Lifeline) program is to offer discounted/free phone services to individuals who otherwise would not be able to afford it. As such, to qualify, you or someone in your household must participate in at least one of the following government assistance programs:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Tribal Programs (and live on federally-recognized Tribal lands)
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
Note: If your child (who is a minor and lives with you) participates in any of the above programs, you are eligible.
You may also qualify if your annual income is at or below the federal poverty guidelines.
Tribal Lifeline Program
With Tribal Lifeline, you may be eligible to receive up to $34.25 in discounts on your monthly phone bill. To qualify you must not only live on federally-recognized Tribal lands but must also participate in one of the following programs:
- Any of the federal assistance programs listed above
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Head Start (only households meeting the income qualifying standard)
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
Applying for Louisiana Free Government Cell Phone
After determining whether or not you qualify for the Louisiana free government cell phone, the next step is to select a phone company that services your area. Most phone providers allow you to apply online. In doing so, you must provide the phone company with your zip code before completing the application. By doing this, you’ll know immediately whether or not the phone company you selected services your area.
In addition to service jurisdiction, do a little shopping around to see what each phone company offers. Although each company provides free smartphones, they may differ in the amount of talk/text or data they offer. For example, as of this writing (July 2018), Access Wireless offers 250 talk minutes, unlimited texting and 1GB of data whereas Safelink Wireless offers 350 talk minutes, unlimited texting and 1 GB of data. Please be aware that talk/text/data may vary depending on zip code.
If a company’s website forces you to insert your email address and zip code before finding out what talk/text/data plans they offer, call them first. You don’t want to provide personal information before you know what you’ll receive in return.
Once you’ve selected the company that will best serve your needs, complete the application and provide them with the necessary documentation to prove eligibility. Because this is a government program, it may take time before your application is approved. Once approved it should take about 10 business days for you to receive your phone. If you are concerned that the process is taking too long, you may contact the phone provider for an update on the status of your application.
One Free Phone Per Household
If someone else in your household is currently receiving Lifeline benefits, you may not apply for the free government phone. Only one Lifeline benefit is allowed per household.