If you’re disabled, don’t have a job or other factors which are making it difficult for you to be able to support your family, you might be qualified for free money from the government. There are a couple of programs that will help you with food, housing and other necessities.
If you’re facing disability, underemployment, job loss or several other factors which are making difficult for you to be able to support your family, you can always look for assistance. The U.S Census data in 2018 stated that about 38.1 million citizens were living in poverty.
This number isn’t inclusive of the families that live above the poverty line but are still struggling to put food on the table and pay their bills. Meaning that a large number of citizens in America depend on free money from the government and public assistance programs for survival.
How can someone find these programs and money? Although the federal government provides people with a broad list of programs, here is a list of a number of commonly used programs and services that provide citizens with free money and other resources.
How to Get Free Money From the Government
The federal government has a number of programs that are meant for helping citizens in the U.S. with basic provisions. A lot of these services and programs are income-based and need other eligibility requirements, however, there are those that are open to everyone, even if you have an income. If you don’t have any income, such programs can really help.
Government Assistance for Housing
Finding housing at an affordable price can be a difficult task, especially for people living in high-cost neighborhoods. Fortunately, the government has housing programs that can help people keep their homes.
Down Payment Assistance Programs
If you’re looking to buy a home but need assistance with the down payment, you can find several FAH grants out there. Make sure you go through the eligibility requirements for every grant because they vary depending on the state and program.
You can also look for assistance from a VA loan (which is provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Assistance) or even a USDA loan (which is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture).
There are numerous government programs that assist people to pay for rent, and several private organizations and charities. Before someone can qualify for HUD assistance, they have to meet certain eligibility requirements and guidelines for composition and family size. The amount and type of assistance depends on the state you live in.
The HUD supports 3 main programs, namely:
- Public housing
- Subsidized housing that are privately owned
- Housing Choice Vouchers (formerly referred to as Section 8)
You can contact your local housing authority and find out whether you’re qualified to apply for either of the programs. Note that there are cities which have very long waiting lists for Section 8 and the list might be closed to all new applicants.
If you’re having difficulty paying your mortgage, there’s another HUD-approved free hotline is The Homeownership Preservation Foundation which can assist you to make the remaining amount of your mortgage payment so that you can keep your home.
You can call the hotline where you’ll be linked with a specialist on foreclosure prevention who will tell you about the options you have. The service is also open to people who have received modification or are victims of mortgage scam.
Education Assistance, Loans and Grants
Whether you’re looking for loans or grants to help you pay for college or have a student loan debt, there are several options you can use.
Student Loan Forgiveness
If you use the Public Student Loan Forgiveness program, where you’ll be required to make at least 120 payments (equivalent to 10 years’ worth of payments) and also take a full-time job in a government agency, an approve field or nonprofit organization. If you qualify for the program and finish the entire application process, the outstanding balance of you student loan might be forgiven.
There are forgiveness programs for working citizen especially those in the education and medical field, and a couple of states have certain forgiveness programs for people who live there.
You can also find an organization to work for so that they’ll forgive a portion of your federal student loans (with an exception of private loans), and also provides people with a income for future educational bills.
Some of the organizations are:
- Military Financial Aid
- Peace Corps
- Nurse Corps
- Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program
- Ameri Corps
- National Health Corps
If you’re a first-time undergraduate student and are also income-eligible or have applied for a particular post-baccalaureate program, you can try applying for Pell Grants provided by the federal government. The money is genuinely free because it is given as a grant and not a loan and you’ll not be required to pay it back, unless under certain instances.
Before you can qualify for a Pell Grant, you need to fill out an application form for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). You must finish filling the form if you actually want to receive any assistance that is need-based for things like work-study.
Food Assistance Programs
If you’re struggling to feed your family and there are no food pantries or food banks where you live, the following programs and services might offer you with assistance.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, popularly referred to as food stamps and it’s the largest government program that provides people with free money for food. Families and individuals who meet the eligibility requirements are given a debit card containing money which can be used at any farmers market, grocery store and other retail store that take SNAP benefits.
Every state has their own criteria for eligibility that they use to determine the kind of SNAP assistance an individual or family is given.
Another program that provides food assistance to low-income families is the Women, Infants and Children association. However, WIC is more restrictive than SNAP and it offers people with nutritional education, food and health care referrals for breastfeeding women, pregnant women and women with low-income that have kids under the age of five.
To be able to get WIC benefits, you have to meet specific eligibility requirements.
There are a number of food assistance programs that are offered to school going children.
Reduced and Free Lunch (and Breakfast)
School-aged kids that are from low-income families and attend a nonprofit private school or public school or belong to residential childcare institutions are qualified to ger reduced or free lunches and milk at school.
If you want to join this program, or the free breakfast program, you family must have all the income requirements.
Summer Food Aid
The Summer Food Aid program is another government assistance program that provides children living in low-income neighborhoods with free, healthy meals during the summer. However, the meals are distributed by independent providers and contractors instead of schools, which means that you’ll have to look for where they are in your neighborhood.
Although this isn’t a government-funded program, it’s a credible way for you to get food on weekends. Backpack programs are normally available in low-income neighborhoods where they provide children with easy-to-prepare, non-perishable and healthy foods making sure that they always have food when schools are closed.
This program doesn’t require any standard eligibility requirements and they all differ depending on the population and community they are serving.
Government Assistance Programs for Utilities
Utilities are the other major household expenses after food and housing. It cost a lot of money to keep the heating and cooling as well as the light on in your home. The following programs offer assistance that cater for such bill so that you are able to save money on energy expenses.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
This is a government-funded program which is meant to assist low-income families with their energy bills, LIHEAP offers financial aid that helps them pay for heating and cooling expenses.
The program can also provide assistance for crisis or emergency situations such as weatherizing your home or keeping your heat on during winter season. They unfortunately don’t offer help for sewer or water expenses.
Weatherization Assistance Program
The program is handled by the U.S. Department of Energy by providing low-income households with grants to assist them with their energy bill by ensuring they have better energy efficiency and safety in their households. To get the grant, your family must have all the eligibility requirements to get this kind of help.
If you’d like to know more about the eligibility requirements and program, check out the Weatherization Assistance Program’s site.
Free Government Money for Healthcare Needs
Whether you’re alone or have a spouse and children, we all need medical care. If your employer’s health insurance provider is not affordable or your income doesn’t reach a particular level, you can still find medical care through other means.
If you’re looking for suitable health insurance, you can get a reliable plan from the government through the Healthcare Marketplace.
They don’t give a specific requirement for individuals and low-income families. However, if you’re below a specific amount, you’re qualified for a premium tax credit, resulting to you having free medical insurance.
Their website has a free income evaluating tool that you can use to determine the plans (credit or lower-premium) your eligible for. You’ll also find cost-sharing reductions that will assist you pay for some services.
While a lot of people confuse it with Medicare, Medicaid is healthcare program that provides medically needy, low-income, pregnant and disabled people with assistance especially those who are younger than 65 years for them to get good medical care.
Unfortunately, Medicaid doesn’t have the same eligibility requirements for everyone. Although this is a program that offered and governed by the federal government, every state has the power of deciding who is qualified to use the program and the king of eligibility criteria to set.
In order to qualify for the Medicare program, most states cater to a specific group of people:
- Eligible pregnant women
- Low-income families
- People relying on Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI)
There are states that offer Medicaid assistance to foster care kids or adults that need home-based care. You can get more information about Medicaid’s eligibility requirements by going to the Medicaid website.
CHIP (The Children’s Health Insurance Program) is another financial assistance program offered to low-income families so that they can get healthcare for their kids. The program provided low-income families that meet the eligibility requirements with affordable and reliable health insurance, when they can’t pay for private insurance.
CHIP unlike Medicaid, is not a free program. You’ll be required to pay a small fee so that your child can become a member of CHIP, but you won’t be asked to pay more than 5% of your income (the amount is different in all states).
However, not all routine services need an associated copay, and there are states that offer a pre-paid discount. Meaning if you pay the full amount for your annual premium, you can be given a 3-month discount. So, you can be given 3 months of free medical insurance after paying for 9 months.
CHIP is similar to Medicaid because every state has their own eligibility criteria, so make sure you confirm with your state if you meet the qualifications.
Government Assistance for Childcare
Getting reliable and quality childcare is a very important thing to working parents. However, daycare in not affordable in most states and parents are left to decide between not working and unreliable care. Luckily, the government has set up programs to assist people with this.
Child Care and Development Fund
The Child Care and Development Fund is a program which is available in different states where low-income families are provided with subsidies in form of grants or vouchers and contract from childcare providers.
Similar to most programs that provide assistance, there are different eligibility requirements in each state. Find out the kind of eligibility requirements you state has by contacting the administrator to your local fund.
If your family meets all the eligibility requirements, you’ll be able to choose the healthcare provider you prefer, as long as they meet the standards set by the state (and also takes the grant or voucher).
Head Start children’s program for low-income families providing kids with school-readiness from birth until they reach five years. In addition to this, the program also assists with health and development and whole-family well-being.
The services offered by Head Start are available to families that meet the eligibility requirements and are living below the poverty line set by the federal government. You can find these services at in-home daycares, childcare centers and home-based services.
Children from homeless families, foster children and children from families that rely on different types of government assistance (like SSI, TANF or others) are also qualified to get help from Head Start.
Free Money from Unclaimed Funds and Taxes
The government doesn’t only offer money in form of programs that are need-based. There are other options available to everybody regardless of their income.
Although this isn’t typically free money, the money is owed to by some entity you because of a certain reason. The money can be in form of utility or apartment deposits, uncashed paychecks or contents of a safety deposit box.
You can check unclaimed money from one place, and you may be owed in multiple states, so ensure you do thorough research in each of the states you’ve lived in before. If your current employer’s headquarters is in another state and you work in a different state, make sure you also search the state.
Some of the best places to search for unclaimed money are:
You may also have unclaimed funds from forgotten or old tax refunds. You can look for these by visiting:
Old Pension Plans
Apart from tax refunds or unclaimed money, there might be some money in your name in the form of old pension plans. If you or one of your family members ever worked for an organization that provided you with a pension plan but you haven’t managed to claim the benefits, you may still be eligible for it.
You can look for these types of funds by going to Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation and looking for your or your loved one’s name.
Tax Deductions and Credits
One of the simplest ways to get free money is by adjusting your tax deductions and withholding. If you haven’t claimed the money yet, take a look at the W-4 you submitted the first time you got employed. Find out the kind of plan you opted for and then referring to this list, make appropriate and necessary adjustments.
There are people who qualify for free tax preparation through the Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program or the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. If you’re eligible for either of the programs, you’ll be given tax preparation for free by IRS-certified volunteers.
Miscellaneous Government Assistance Programs
Whether you suffered a job loss, starting a business, need assistance with your phone service, you can always find programs that cater for what you need.
Provided by the FCC, Lifeline is a discount cell phone service that’s meant for people with low incomes in all the states found in the U.S, on Tribal lands, commonwealth and territory. You’ll pay $9.25 every month.
You can only use Lifeline if you meet all the requirements for qualifications. Meaning your earnings should be below or at 135% of the poverty level stated by the federal government. You might also be qualified to take part in particular government aid programs like:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Specific Tribal Assistance Programs
Lifeline offers both landline and cell phone services by operating via broadband. However, the Lifeline program can only be used for a single service. In addition, the FCC rules don’t allow a household to have more that one service from Lifeline.
If you need assistance with your phone service but don’t meet the eligibility requirement for Lifeline, you can look for other ways to have discounted or free cell phone service.
Small Business Loans
However, these types of loans are not free money from the government, but they normally have a very low interest rate compared to loans offered by private lenders. You can find grants from the SBA for certain non-scientific and scientific fields and nonprofits. They also provide businesses that were affected y natural calamities with low-interest loans.
You can look for such grants and even apply for some by visiting Grants.gov on your phone.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families also known as TANF and is popularly referred to as welfare. The program offers monetary assistance to families with children especially when they aren’t able to provide basic needs for their children.
The program is similar to Medicaid and the federal government supports it financially although it is administered by the states. With that said, every state sets their own rules including time limits, eligibility requirements and the kind of assistance a family gets.
If you want to know if you qualify for such assistance, you can check out this site.
The National Council on Aging administers a free service known as BenefitsCheckUp which assists senior citizens to find benefits that are suited for them. It’s a searchable database that has more than 2,500 state, federal and private for helping seniors’ lives get improved in the following areas:
- Food and nutrition
- Housing and utilities
- Income assistance
You can also look for discounts for senior citizens and veteran benefits. You’ll find such benefits in your local area, meaning that if you’re looking for assistance in Mississippi, you won’t be given access to the programs available in New York.
Loss of income is one of the most stressful situations associated with losing a job. Whether you were downsized or let go form your previous job, you may be qualified for unemployment benefits.
CareerOneStop, which is handled by the U.S Department of Labor, is an online site where you can apply for your unemployment benefits and also look for the other things that you may be qualified for. The site also has the resources that can help people look for jobs.
Getting Free Government Money an Easy Task
While there are various options for getting free money from the government, you can only receive assistance when you meet all the eligibility requirements. Most of these programs don’t have a specific set of requirements other than the federal guidelines on poverty , which make it difficult for people to know whether they qualify.
Low-income families with veterans, children, the elderly and disabled individuals don’t have a hard time qualifying for the benefits the need, but this isn’t guaranteed. Although you might be eligible for some of the programs, you may not be qualified for others. Everything depends on the program, your state and other important factors.
If you need assistance from one of there programs, you can reach out to your state’s Social Services and Department of Health. You can also visit Benefits.gov and use the screening tool provided to find out the programs that you’re qualified for. Although this doesn’t really determine the benefits you’ll get, it’s a great place to begin from.