If the cost of internet service — or a computer — seems out of reach, a new government program might be able to help you foot the bill.
Eligible households now can enroll in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program and receive a monthly subsidy that will help cut the cost of broadband service from any of the companies on a list of approved providers.
Discounts of up to $50 a month for broadband service — and up to $75 a month if the household is on tribal lands — are available.
In addition, eligible households can get a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop or tablet computer. Those who take advantage of this perk must contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price and buy from a participating provider.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program was established by federal legislation that became law in December.
Those eligible for the program include anyone who meets at least one of the following criteria:
- “Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
- Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
- Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.”
To enroll, begin by making sure your internet service provider has been approved to participate in the program. The FCC has set up a webpage that can help you find this information.
Then, go to the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program website to apply. Just note that the government says the program was “experiencing high demand” on May 12, the first day folks could apply, and that efforts are being made to resolve “connectivity issues.”
The government says the program will end “when the fund runs out of money, or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency, whichever is sooner.”
Don’t fret if you do not qualify for this program. There are other ways to cut your internet costs, as we explain in “8 Ways to Slash Your Internet Bill.”
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