How to Tell If You Qualify for Discounted Internet From the Government

How to Tell If You Qualify for Discounted Internet From the Government
Photo: New Africa, Shutterstock

The White House announced on Monday that tens of millions of American households will now be eligible for subsidized high-speed internet, thanks to the creation of the Affordable Connectivity Program, part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The Biden administration has secured commitments from 20 of the country’s leading internet providers, including AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, to offer high-speed internet plans for no more than $US30 ($42) per month. This is expected to impact more than 80% of the U.S. population across urban, suburban, and rural areas.

How will you know if you can take advantage of this internet subsidy? There are three different ways to qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program. The first is if your income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. You can consult this chart to determine if that includes you:

Photo: The White HousePhoto: The White House

You’ll also qualify if you’re already a recipient of select federal programs. These include, but are not limited to, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, and certain Tribal assistance programs. Check out the full list here. Enrollment in any of these programs automatically makes you eligible for subsidized high speed internet.

The final way to qualify is if you meet the criteria for one of the participating broadband providers’ existing low-income internet programs. The requirements will vary from provider to provider, so reach out directly to see if you’re covered. (Here’s a full list of participating providers.)

If you qualify and want to sign up for the Affordable Connectivity Program, there are three ways to do so. The first option is to go to www.GetInternet.gov and follow the instructions in the online portal. You can also send the application by mail (irony); the form is available in English and in Spanish. You can also work directly your existing internet service provider if they’re participating in the program, as they may have their own application process.

It’s worth noting that even though these plans are discounted, they’re still up to snuff: According to the White House, they offer a minimum 100 Mbps download speed, which will allow a family to use the service for video calls, video streaming, and large downloads.

If you find yourself in a position where you can afford to pay for subsidized internet, but not a device on which to use it, the Affordable Connectivity Program may have you covered there too — those who qualify can receive a one-time discount of up to $US100 ($139) on a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. Discounts are available through participating providers, a list of which can be found on the Federal Communication Commission’s website.

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