When push comes to shove, the government is ready to help its citizens who need it most.
That’s not to say that everyone should run to the government to ask for money when they don’t really need to.
But there certainly are a lot of programs in place that are designed to give financial support to those who need it, whether you’re looking to purchase your first home or send yourself or your kids away to college.
Your state and local government may have even more programs available that are specific to your area, so be sure to check with local government agencies to find them.
Below, we’ve listed several ways that the government can help you get what you need and become financially stable.
How to Get Free Government Money
Get Money for Food
Food is one of the most important things you need in life, which is why the government has programs intended to help people who are struggling to make ends meet.
These programs tend to cater to families with children, but if you are low-income, you can sometimes qualify as an individual for SNAP benefits.
There are several programs in place to help you get food to feed yourself and your family:
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): This program is for pregnant women and their babies and kids to get healthy food and drinks. It also helps pay for your baby’s formula if you’re not breastfeeding or need to supplement. If you are breastfeeding, you can also get healthy foods to boost your nutrition after your baby’s born.
- SNAP (also known as food stamps): Low-income individuals and families can apply for SNAP benefits to get money for qualifying food and drinks each month.
- The National School Lunch Program: If you have a child in school, you can apply for this program, which offers free and reduced school lunches for kids who qualify according to their family’s income. Check to see if your local schools offer free lunch already for students (many elementary schools are making the switch!).
- Summer Food Service Program: Low-income families may qualify for the Summer Food Service Program, which provides free, healthy snacks and meals to kids during the summer months when school is out.
You can find more information about these programs from your local welfare agency.
You should also look into local food banks – usually run by non-profit organizations and churches – if you’re in need of food right now.
Get Temporary Assistance to Get Back on Your Feet
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a program designed to help you through a tough time, like losing your job or losing a family member that contributed to the household’s income.
These programs are specifically for families with children rather than individuals.
TANF can help you find a job, find affordable child care, connect you to services that can help in your situation, and even provide temporary cash assistance to help you pay your housing and bills.
Get Tuition Money
When you need money for college, the government is here to help.
To apply for any federal aid, including loans and grants, you need to first fill out your FAFSA.
This form collects information about your family and income to determine how much aid you’re eligible for.
Then, it’ll let you know what you qualify for with grants (do not need to be paid back) and loans (do need to be paid back after graduating).
One grant you can apply for is the Federal Pell Grant, which gifts you up to $6195 (current for the 2019-2020 school year) per year of college.
Get Cash for a Home
The USDA requires you to live in a qualifying rural area and meet specific income requirements.
HUD also requires you to meet the income guidelines and purchase a home that’s deemed safe.
Some programs provide grants for buying a home while others offer low-interest mortgages for financing your home.
If you’re at risk of foreclosure on your home, you can also contact HUD for assistance.
Get Help Repairing Your Home
The USDA comes through again if you’re in need of making repairs on your home that you can’t afford.
Those who qualify can get their mortgage refinanced to include extra money to use to make repairs.
Elderly homeowners may also qualify for grants that don’t need to be paid back.
Get Housing Assistance
If you’re unable to own a home and need to rent, you can also check with HUD for assistance.
The organization has housing vouchers available to eligible residents to live in HUD-approved housing.
You can also reach out to your local Salvation Army, which donates money to income-qualified individuals and families for rental and utility assistance.
Get Help with Your Heating Bills
Many states have a program called Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) that helps eligible families and individuals pay their heating bills in the winter.
Some programs, depending on your state, may also provide assistance to weatherize your home (make it more efficient in the winter).
Do a quick Google search for your state + HEAP to find your local program and get more information.
Get a Free or Discounted Cell Phone
LifeLine is a government-backed program that allows you to get a credit toward your cell phone bill each month.
If you’re already on a program like TANF or SNAP, you can qualify automatically.
Otherwise, you’ll need to meet income guidelines.
Some states also offer free or low-cost cell phone service through your welfare agency, so it’s a good idea to check there if you’re in need.
Get Free or Discounted Internet
LifeLine also offers discounted internet service.
However, you can only use the program for either your cell phone or internet service rather than both.
You can also check with various internet providers, many of which have very low-cost internet plans for people who don’t need super fast internet or other bells and whistles.
These aren’t backed by the government, but they’re good resources for finding affordable internet.
You can check this guide for service providers near you that have low-cost plans.
Get Free or Discounted Health Insurance
Healthcare.gov is the website designed for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to help eligible individuals and families find affordable healthcare.
You can fill out an application during open enrollment to see if you can qualify for a credit toward your health insurance.
The site will also send you over to your local Medicaid or Medicare office if it thinks you’ll qualify for state healthcare based on your application.
Most things are covered for free or very low cost with these programs.
Get Help with Medical Bills
You can also use the HealthFinder website to find assistance with medical bills.
This includes finding places near you that may offer low-cost or free services!
Get Your Checking and Savings Account Deposits Back
Most banks and credit unions have financial backing from the federal government.
That means that if they were to lose money or shut down, you can still get your deposited cash up to a specific amount (usually $100,000 to $200,000).
It’s rare for this to happen, but it’s good to know that you have a backup for your deposits if it does occur.
Get Money Owed to You
The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators hosts the site Unclaimed.org.
This site lets you enter your information to see if there’s any money waiting for you in an unclaimed account somewhere.
It could be a checking account that you shut down years ago or an inheritance you didn’t know you had.
It’s free to search your state and any other states you’ve lived in for money you might have.
Get a Business Loan or Grant
In an effort to get more people starting small businesses across the United States, the government has some resources in the form of grants and loans for new business owners to jump-start their businesses.
You can check the Small Business Administration for more information.
Get Help for Self-Employment
There’s also self-employment assistance for those who live in Oregon, New York, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Mississippi.
This program helps unemployed workers start new businesses to get them back on their feet and making money.
Get Help with Childcare
There are several programs available to help you afford childcare so that you can work or go to school.
Each state has its own version of affordable childcare assistance that will pay for all or part of your childcare costs if you’re income eligible.
You can check with your local welfare agency to learn more about your program’s requirements.
There’s also Head Start programs to prepare low-income children for school.
Some states also have monetary assistance to help you pay for preschool for your 3 to 5-year-old.
You can learn more at Childcare.gov.
Get Unemployment Help
Not much is scarier than finding yourself unemployed when you have bills to pay and a family to feed.
Fortunately, there’s government help for that also.
Head to the U.S. Benefits website to apply for unemployment benefits, which will allow you to receive money, paid in part by your previous employer, until you find another job.
You have to be unemployed for no fault of your own, though, so your employment history should be in good standing.
Get Government Grants
It’s tough to get a government grant as an individual, but there are some available.
Most government grants are geared toward businesses and organizations to keep the economy afloat, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look for something that makes sense for you, too.
That’s why there’s Grants.gov, which lets you search government grants – free money – that you might qualify for.
It’s worth a shot!
Get Your Pension Cash
It’s easy to forget about pensions with all of the other stuff you need to worry about with a job switch.
You can check PBGC to see if you have a pension waiting for you.
Get a Replacement for Damaged Cash
Getting a damaged bill from a store and then not being able to use that bill at other stores because it’s damaged can be frustrating – but it happens more than you think.
Instead of wasting money, go to this website.
Send in the required information, and you can get a bank deposit or a check for the amount of the damaged money.
You can also get lost, stolen, or damaged savings bonds replaced!
To get replacements for your savings bonds, you can print off this form and fill it in.
Get Your Tax Return Prepared for Free
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers a free service for people to get their tax returns prepared if they make less than a certain amount of money for the year and don’t have complicated tax situations.
The program is filled with volunteer tax professionals who can help you, so you won’t have to pay someone else to do your taxes.
Get Help as a Veteran
As a veteran of the United States military, you can receive a variety of benefits depending on your situation.
There are programs that provide free healthcare, tuition, and even monthly income.
Check the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website to see what’s available.
Get Senior Citizen Benefits
Senior citizens often have low income after they retire, which can make it challenging for them to afford their housing and bills.
There are a lot of government programs in place to help the elderly afford their medical bills, housing, food, utilities, and more.
The National Council on Aging has several excellent resources for finding assistance for seniors.
Get Disability Benefits
Whether you’ve had a disability for a long time or went through a recent situation that made you disabled, there are programs to help.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disability benefits to disabled individuals.
You may qualify for money each month to help you pay your bills.
You can also check with your local welfare agency to see if you’re eligible for health insurance for the disabled.
Usually, disabled individuals can qualify with higher incomes than non-disabled people.
Conclusion: How to Get Free Money from the Government
The government literally has a wealth of resources to help you in your time of need.
Take advantage of them when you need them most!
They could be just what you need to get back on track and dig yourself out of the financial hole you’re in.
It’s a good idea to make a visit to your local agency to learn more about any specific programs that could help your situation in addition to checking out the websites above.