In light of the recent coronavirus outbreak, having a reliable internet connection at home is essential. We can’t function without it when we’re working from home, going to school remotely, or just trying to pass the time when we’re not able to meet up with friends.
Even if it’s not inexpensive, getting an internet connection at home might be a challenge in many circumstances.
For low-income families and those who had lost income as a result of COVID-19, a new temporary subsidy program dubbed the Emergency Broadband Benefit was launched last year.
EBB will be decommissioned in 2022 and replaced by the Affordable Connectivity Program, one of several broadband-focused projects in the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill signed by Vice President Biden in November.
The program’s goal is the same as the EBB’s: to assist families to afford the high-speed internet connections they need to stay up with our quickly changing world. Those who meet the requirements will be eligible for a $30 monthly discount on their internet service. For households located on Tribal lands, the monthly cost rises to $75.
As with the EBB, a large number of internet service providers have agreed to participate in the ACP. The list goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on. Using the FCC’s list of states, you may find out what services are accessible in your area. For the time being, let’s go over the remaining details of the ACP.
Find out if you’re a good fit for the program first.
The ACP is not open to everyone. Low-income families can use the service to get broadband connections for things like school, work, health care, and other essentials. As a result, at least one member of each household must meet the eligibility requirements.
To begin, the ACP is open to anyone in your household who is enrolled in the federal Lifeline program. This is significant because you can save over $9 a month on your internet access through the Lifeline program (and over $34 a month for individuals on tribal territories).
Consequently, any money from the ACP will constitute a discount on the Lifeline benefits you already get. As I’ll explain later, it also allows you to skip a step.
The Affordable Connectivity Program will accept you even if you don’t use Lifeline or another government-sponsored program.
Your eligibility for the ACP will depend on whether or not you or any member of your family presently participates in certain government assistance programs—such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Depending on your income, you may also be eligible for the ACP. If your household’s income is less than or equal to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, regardless of which of the aforementioned programs you take part in, you are eligible for assistance. What exactly does that mean? Here’s how it works:
You can add $9,080 for each extra person after the first eight. Also, keep in mind that the figures for Alaska and Hawaii are a little higher. The charts on the website of the US Department of Health and Human Services include those particular figures.
In order to reach “200 percent of the federal poverty criteria,” you’ll need to multiply all the figures from the charts on that page by two.
Finally, there are a few further requirements that must be met:
- Involvement in tribally-specific programs, such as those run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Tribal TANF, and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Currently, a recipient of a federal Pell Grant.
- Approval of the 2019-2020, 2020-2021, or 2021-2022 school year’s free or reduced-price school meal and breakfast programs.
- Low-income participants must meet the standards of an ISP’s current low-income program.
A one-time discount of up to $100 on a desktop, tablet, laptop computer, tablet, or any combination thereof, may be available if any of the conditions outlined above are met.
Second: There may be a “skip the line” provision for some qualifying homes.
When I introduced the Lifeline program, I alluded to the fact that we could have skipped a step. The ACP can be obtained by contacting your ISP if you’re already a Lifeline subscriber. On the ACP website, you are not obligated to click the Apply Now option.
Another way to avoid using the ACP site is to be enrolled in your ISP’s low-income program but not participate in Lifeline. There is, however, a catch. Make sure the FCC has approved your internet service provider before you proceed with this step.
Third: Prepare all of your documents.
In the event that you are unable to omit this stage, you will need to gather more documents. (Note: If you plan to mail the application, simply submit copies of your documents.)
An income verification document or proof of program participation will be required of you. This can be in the form of your tax return, a wage slip, or a Social Security benefits statement (which can include approval letters, benefits verification letters,s or statements of benefits).
The Show You Qualify page on the ACP website has a comprehensive list of eligible documents.
It’s time to submit your application!
You can apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program in one of three ways. The first step is to fill out an application on the internet. At the ACP’s online application site, you can log in and create a new account.
You can also submit your application via email. A completed application and any supporting documentation should be sent to ACP Support Center, PO Box 7081, London, KY 40742 as soon as possible.
Finally, you can inquire directly with your ISP about whether or not it participates in the ACP. Are you capable of doing so? If so, I should be able to help and guide you through the procedure.
If you submit your application online, you may get approved right away. There may be a need for further evidence if that is not the case so that you can proceed with the ACP discount. Once your application has been approved, you can proceed to the next step.
Last but not least, make contact with your internet service provider.
The ACP is a discount on your internet bill, rather than a check you get. This means that your internet service provider (ISP) must know about your involvement in the ACP and apply a discount to your monthly fee. It’s also a good time to evaluate if you can save money by upgrading your internet plan tier.
Are there any other considerations?
The ACP discount cannot be obtained from more than one internet service provider (ISP) in your household, nor can you receive multiple discounts in the same home. Attempting to do so would make you ineligible for any additional aid or benefits from the ACP.
Also, if you no longer qualify for the benefit, you must tell your ISP or the ACP. As a result, if you no longer take part in a qualifying assistance program or if your income exceeds the poverty criteria, you must take action within 30 days after the change.
You can call the ACP Support Center at 877-384-2575 if you have additional questions about the Affordable Connectivity Program.