Times were already getting tough before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. With social distancing, nationwide loss of employment, and widespread move to remote work and education; families needed more help than usual to get by on everyday expenses and monthly bills. Government elected officials worked together to provide subsidies, aid and stimulus checks to Americans during this time and one of items on their docket was high speed internet. A whopping 2.31 million households in the US signed up to receive temporary aid created by Congress to keep families connected at home so citizens can continue to work, learn and keep in touch with loved ones remotely.
1,000+ Broadband Providers Involved
Over a thousand local and national internet providers both big and small have agreed to take part in the new program. Providers that have agreed to participate in the new program include HughesNet, Charter Spectrum, Comcast Xfinity, Metronet, CenturyLink, Earthlink and many more. In this new program approved households will be eligible for a high speed internet service discount and one time discount on a laptop computer or tablet.
Emergency Broadband Benefit
This new program is called the Emergency Broadband Benefit, also referred to as the EBB for short. Eligible households will receive a discount of up to $50 per month ($75 per month on tribal lands) for high speed broadband internet service from a participating internet provider that will service their address. They can also receive a one time use discount of up to $100 to purchase a desktop, laptop or tablet from the participating provider with a minor stipulation that they have to contribute more than $10 but less than $50 towards the purchase price of the device.
Making Broadband Internet More Accessible
One thing was crystal clear from the pandemic; low income households needed help paying for high speed broadband internet service. Pandemic or not, the lack of connectivity in the US affects the ability for citizens to do basic activities like apply for jobs, study for exams, complete homework, apply for public assistance and even pay bills.
Affordable Connectivity Program
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program has run out of funding and has been transitioned to the new Affordable Connectivity Program. This new long term solution provides a discount of up to $30 per month (up $75 per month on qualifying Tribal lands) towards high speed broadband internet service for qualifying households. If you’re an eligible household you can receive a one time use discount of up to $100 to purchase a desktop, laptop or tablet as well. The program is limited to one monthly internet service discount and a one time discount on the device per household.
How To Qualify For The Affordable Connectivity Program
Qualifying for the Affordable Connectivity Program is relatively simple if you meet one of their many criteria. The easiest and most common way to qualify is if your household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, but it doesn’t stop there. Here are some of the ways your family can qualify:
- A member of your household received a Federal Pell Grant during the current year.
- You already meet the eligibility criteria for your internet provider’s existing low income internet program prior to the Affordable Connectivity Program.
- A member of your household receives benefits from a government assistance program like SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, WIC, Lifeline and many others.
- You receive assistance from a Tribal program and live on qualifying Tribal lands.