Government offers discounts for high speed internet. Here you can find out who is authorized and how you can log in
Pinstock | E + | Getty Images
The government wants to cover high-speed internet for millions of low-income Americans.
The Federal Communications Commission’s $ 3.2 billion program, the Emergency Broadband Benefit, covers $ 50 per month for high-speed internet services for eligible households, with a monthly discount of $ 75 for those in Native American tribal areas.
“High-speed Internet services are vital for families to take advantage of today’s health, education and workplace opportunities,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, acting chairwoman of the FCC, in an email.
More from Personal Finance:
More than a million Americans are losing additional unemployment benefits
The new $ 1,400 stimulus checks include plus and first payments
Many parents hold back high costs for childcare and a lack of paid vacation
The program also offers a one-time grant of $ 100 to help families purchase a new laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.
The FCC announced on Wednesday that eligible households can now apply for the program as long as the funding runs or for six months after the pandemic ends.
How do I qualify?
Households that qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, Lifeline, Pell Grants, or free and discounted school lunches can apply.
Individuals with “significant loss of income” due to a job loss or a reduction in working hours since February 29, 2020 can also qualify.
However, there is an income limit. Individual applicants with 2020 income at or below $ 99,000 can qualify, and the limit for married couples is $ 198,000.
How do I apply?
Eligible households have three options to apply for the program.
You can contact any of 825 broadband providers directly and apply through your preferred company.
Another option is to apply online and select the login option that matches your permission type.
Households can also submit a mail-in application. However, they may need to provide additional documents to verify eligibility.
According to the program’s FAQ page, people with an overdue internet bill or remaining balance in collections may still be eligible.
Once approved, eligible households will receive an internet discount every month for as long as funding is ongoing. Families can also apply the grant to monthly fees for rented equipment such as routers or modems.
At the end of the program, households must register or apply to continue using the services in order to cover the full cost of the monthly internet themselves.
The “digital divide”
The pandemic has highlighted the “digital divide” – the millions without affordable internet access – in the US as many shifted to virtual work and homeschooling.
Although 93% of American adults use the Internet, only 75% have broadband at home, according to a report by Pew Research.
However, the gap is more pronounced in colored households.
Only 71% of black households have internet access at home, and the percentage for Hispanic families drops to 65%.
Inequality is even greater in Native American homes: only 61% have access for those living in tribal areas, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis reported.
Funded in December by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, the Emergency Broadband Benefit is designed to help more Americans get connected to the internet during the pandemic.
“This program will have a tremendous positive impact on so many American households,” said Rosenworcel. “It’s an investment in American families and a vote of confidence in the economic power to get us all online.”
The FCC also established the $ 7.2 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund program, which makes it easy for schools and libraries to purchase laptops, tablets, WiFi hotspots, and broadband Internet access.