Back to School Budget Tips: Affordable Gadgets and Wireless

It's that time of year again! Kids are getting ready to head back to school and parents are preparing their budgets. If you're looking for ways to save on back-to-school expenses, here are some great tips.

It's that time of year again! Kids are getting ready to head back to school and parents are preparing their budgets. This school year is proving to have parents, students, and teachers all feeling the pinch from inflation that makes this year the most costly school-year to date. With back to school shopping in full swing, TruConnect is helping make it a little easier with some tips to save on back-to-school expenses and resources available for students all year long. Our list covers back-to-school gadgets, like the best economical tablet for school, and how to get a free tablet, wireless internet, meals, and more.

Back to School Budgeting Tips

Here are a few back-to-school budget tips that can help you stretch your dollars. 

  1. eBay for Clothes, Shoes, and School Supplies: Consider eBay for clothes, shoes, and school supplies. eBay is full of great deals, and you can search for exactly what you need. Shop for the exact sizes you need for clothes and shoes and find both in a myriad of styles. Since each student will have unique needs as far as certain school supplies go, you may not be able to find everything here, but when it comes to ubiquitous items like backpacks, water bottles, and lunch boxes, eBay has stellar deals. Look for sellers with high satisfaction ratings, and you’re sure to receive your items quickly and for less. 
  2. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Benefit: If you have children under the age of five, you may qualify for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, also known as WIC. WIC provides nutritious food to pregnant women and households with children under the age of five. While each state sets its WIC income requirement, it ranges between 100% and 185% of the Federal poverty line. To get started, find the WIC contact information for your state to call and/or email for an appointment. 
  3. Federal Pell Grants for Higher Education: If you have older students starting or in college, consider applying for a Federal Pell Grant. A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not need to be repaid. Funds from a Pell grant can be used to pay tuition, room and board, and other costs associated with college. See Federal Pell Grant application to learn more. 

How to Get Free Smartphones and Hotspots, Plus Discounted Tablets for School

The best affordable tablet for school is only $10.01*! You read that right! You can get an 8'' LTE-enabled tablet for $10.01, if you qualify for the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) benefit. Thanks to the ACP benefit, eligible households receive a one-time discount of up to $100 towards an internet-capable device. Many service providers, like TruConnect, also offer customers free smartphones as part of their plans. To learn more about how to get a free smartphone and discounted free tablet for school, see TruConnect's Broadband plan.  

How to Get Affordable Wireless Internet for Students

Your household may qualify for free or reduced-cost internet. The FCC's Lifeline and ACP benefits help families get free wireless internet for students or a discount on their monthly service. Lifeline is a monthly discount on either phone or internet services, while ACP offers a monthly discount on internet (broadband) services. Many providers, like TruConnect, offer free cell phone or internet service through these benefits. Or, you can keep your current plan and pay a discounted rate. 

Many smartphones can be turned into wireless internet hot spots and generate wireless internet for other devices, like computers, in the home. And you may be able to get an internet hot spot device that generates wireless internet for multiple devices using your ACP device discount. TruConnect offers LTE hotspots to their ACP customers.  

With TruConnect, you can enjoy the convenience of using your phone as a mobile hotspot. All our phone plans include hotspot data that lets you securely share your phone's internet connection with up to 8 other devices when you have a signal on our network. This is also true for our LTE-enabled mobile hotspot, which can be a great solution for home internet. Our hotspot lets you enjoy a more seamless portable Wi-Fi connection for all the devices in your home, giving you the freedom to have up to 8 devices - laptops, tablets, and smartphones included - to keep your whole family connected. 

Pro Tip: Get a free hotspot, when you sign up for TruConnect's ACP plan and apply your one-time device discount.

How to Get Free Meals for Students

The National School Breakfast and Lunch program offers millions of students free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches. The program is funded by the While this is a federally funded program run through the Food and Nutrition Service department of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), but it’s run by the state you live in. Your student qualifies for free school breakfast and lunch, if your household income is at or below 130% of the Federal poverty line. If your household income is between 130% and 185% of the Federal poverty line, you can pay a reduced price for school breakfasts and lunches for any students in your household. Want to participate in the program to start saving? Here’s two ways to apply: 

  1. Fill Out the Paper Application Provided by School: Your child’s school will send home a paper application for the complimentary and reduced-price breakfast and lunch program. Once you complete the forms, you can either send it back with your child to give to their teacher or turn it into the front office.
  2. Apply Online: Apply online, anytime of the year. Find your state program by visiting: U.S. School Breakfast and Lunch Program State List

Learn More About TruConnect’s Free Wireless Service, Free Phone or Hotspot, and Discounted Tablets 

Have questions about getting free or reduced-cost wireless internet for your student or a discounted tablet? We've got you covered. Visit our Lifeline or ACP program pages for frequently asked questions, or reach out to our friendly customer service team Monday through Friday from 5 AM to 9 PM. by phone, email, or chat. Our team is here to get you and your students connected!