March 24, 2016 by Constance Brinkley-Badgett
You’re probably familiar with the various forms of government assistance that are available in the U.S.: Medicaid, student loans, the GI Bill, food stamps. But there are many benefits available to the average person that you might not be aware of.
Here are 14 things you may not have known you could get for free from the government.
1. Car Seat Installation
Did you install your child’s new car seat, but you’re worried you might not have done it correctly? You can get it checked out at your local police or fire department. If you literally have no idea where to start in installing your car seat, they’ll also do that for you, usually free of charge. You can use this tool to search for a location near you.
Adoption Assistance, also known as adoption subsidies, “provides financial help and services for children with physical, mental and developmental disabilities and their adoptive parents.” The definition of “special needs” varies by state agency.
3. Job Training, High School Diploma
Job Corps is a career technical training and education program for low-income young people ages 16 through 24 managed through the U.S. Department of Labor.
Per Benefits.gov, “Job Corps graduates train in the skills needed to start a career, enlist in the military, or move on to pursue higher education.” Students can also earn a high school diploma or a high school equivalency credential. It also provides room and board, counseling and mentoring services, basic medical care while students are in the program, and career counseling and transitional support for up to 12 months after graduation, the website says.
4. Free Tax Filing
You can file your income taxes for free through the Internal Revenue Service’s FreeFile program.
5. Free Credit Reports
The major credit reporting agencies didn’t just all decide one day to offer credit reports for free. That came through a government mandate. You can order your free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also get a free credit report summary every month on Credit.com.
6. Presidential Greeting
The President will send birthday greetings to individuals 80 or overand anniversary greetings to couples married 50 years or longer, among a few others special messages. You must notify the President of the event, in writing, at least 2 weeks (preferably 1 month or more) before the celebrated occasion.
7. Help for Quitting Smoking
Want to quit smoking? The government wants to help you do it, and in some cases, will even provide free nicotine replacement therapies, including patches, lozenges and gum from state and local governments. A call to 1-800-QUIT-NOW will direct you to your state agency, or you can visit I’m Ready to Quit on the Center for Disease Control website.
8. Free Museum Admissions
Washington, D.C., is filled with free art and cultural events thanks to government funding. Head to the Smithsonian Museum of American Art or the Phillips Collection and admission will be free. The monuments? Free. National Portrait Gallery? National Air and Space Museum? National Museum of Women in the Arts? Free, free, free.
9. Active Shooter Safety Training
Want to be prepared in case you find yourself in a situation where someone has a gun and is shooting at you and others? The Department of Homeland Security provides a free webinar to do just that.
10. Help Cutting Down or Quitting Drinking
If you’re considering cutting back or quitting drinking, whether for health or financial reasons, The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism offers free calculators that can help you determine how much you’re spending and how many additional calories you’re consuming.
11. Free Meeting Spaces, Computers and Wi-Fi
Libraries offer so much more than just books. Some have meeting and conference rooms available for reservation, some offer free tax forms and assistance, and most these days offer free access to computers and even Wi-Fi. Call or visit your local library’s website for more details.
12. Diet & Fitness Tools
Interested in making healthful food selections? The USDA provides numerous tools, including one that lets you look up a food from a database of more than 8,000 foods, and compare it’s nutritional values to another food, another tool that helps you plan meals, and others that help you track your physical activity and weight.
13. Career Training
The Student Career Experience Program is a paid student program that lets participants get work experience directly related to their academic field of study. According to Benefits.gov, “it provides formal periods of work and study while you are attending school. It requires a commitment by you, your school, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. You may be eligible for permanent employment after successfully completing your education and meeting work requirements.”
14. Package Pickup
Need to ship a package but don’t have time or transportation to get to the post office? A postal carrier will pick up your package for you, free of charge.
15. Senior Fitness DVDs
The National Institutes on Aging offer a wide variety of free resources on their Go4Life website, including exercise guides and DVDs.