Government internet program, The Internet has increasingly become a necessity rather than a luxury. People’s current lifestyles, as well as current work setups, are becoming more heavily reliant and integrated with technology and the Internet as time passes. Having access to an Internet connection helps people in ways that allow them to stay in touch with their loved ones while experiencing more convenient and efficient work tasks.
Without an Internet connection, you miss out on a lot of things, mainly because it has been considered the source of most information, like the news, weather, or recent happenings. This is especially more true if your work or the majority of your tasks relies on having decent internet connectivity since you need it within reach almost 24/7.
It’s worth noting that while the Internet is in demand these days, not everyone still has fair access to a good Internet connection. Spending money on getting one installed in your home can be quite expensive, and not everyone has the financial capability to afford it. For low-income households, especially, getting an Internet connection installed might be something well beyond their means, but it can be challenging, especially if they need access to it to get their tasks done.
Fortunately, there are plenty of government internet programs that can help. Government internet assistance programs, like the Affordable Connectivity Program, allow low-income families or financially struggling households to connect to the Internet through a fair share of discounts or subsidies.
This article will walk you through everything you need to know about the Affordable Connectivity Program and how to apply as a beneficiary of it.
What is the Affordable Connectivity Program?
The Affordable Connectivity Program or ACP is a benefit program by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) within the U.S. This new government internet program helps make sure that households are able to afford the Internet service or broadband that they require to accomplish their work, school, or access their healthcare among other things.
The Affordable Connectivity program offers a $30 monthly discount towards Internet service for qualified households. This can also shoot up as high as 75% every month if the household is within high-cost areas or Tribal land. More than that, those who are qualified can also be granted a one-time discount amounting to $100 so that they can purchase a tablet, laptop, or desktop computer from any of the participating providers if they choose to contribute beyond $10 and less than $50 towards the total selling price.
This government internet program is limited to one device discount and one monthly service discount for each household.
Who Qualifies for the Affordable Connectivity Program?
You can qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program by the FCC if your total household income goes below 200% of the established Federal Poverty Guidelines or if at least one member from your household meets one of the following criteria listed below:
- Meets the participating Internet provider’s criteria of its current low-income internet program
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current year of the award
- Resides on Qualifying Tribal lands and participates in at least one of the assistance programs mentioned below:
- Tribal TANF
- Affordable Housing Programs for American Indians, Native Hawaiians, or Alaska Natives
- Tribal Head Start
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Participates in at least one of the following assistance programs:
- Public Housing
- Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program (Section 8 Vouchers)
- Veterans Pension or Survivor Benefits
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA)/202/811
- Reduced-Price and Free School Breakfast or School Lunch Program, including in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision Schools
The Affordable Connectivity program is the replacement for the previous Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program, which was established in 2021 to deal with the effects of the pandemic. Though similar, the main difference between the two is the benefit per month has been slashed, and there have also been notable changes in some of the qualifications.
For example, families on WIC are now eligible for application to the ACP; however, a substantial loss of income in the year 2020 is grounds for disqualifying a household from the program in the same way. Not only that, but the maximum income for eligible households has also increased, starting from 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, and is now following a 200% ceiling rate.
How to Apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program?
To receive the benefits of this program, follow these important steps.
1) Check if you’re Eligible for the Program
Determine whether or not your household fits into any of the following categories or eligibility criteria that make you qualified for application. If you see that your household ticks all the necessary requirements, then it’s time to turn in an application.
2) Apply for the ACP
You can apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program in two ways. You can either apply by mail online or by contacting your existing internet company to facilitate this for you.
Visit the official ACP site at AffordableConnectivity.gov to submit your application or print out the application form if you decide to do it by mail. Afterward, reach out to your chosen participating provider to choose a plan, then have the discount applied to your Internet bill.
Other Internet providers tend to have an alternative form or application that they will require you to accomplish. Qualified households should both apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program and contact a participating provider at the same time to choose a service plan that fits their needs.
3) Wait for Approval
After submitting an application, the internet company will immediately share the results. For those who choose to apply online, you will almost always get immediate approval. However, this might take longer if there is a need to confirm the eligibility further since the company will have to request extra documentation from you.
It’s worth noting that if you’re already a recipient of the Lifeline program, you don’t necessarily have to apply again for the ACP. Instead, you can simply apply your ACP or Lifeline benefit to either separate or the same services. For this, you can choose to talk to your Lifeline provider about the services that they may offer as part of the ACP, which already includes options to apply the discounts to your current Lifeline service. Otherwise, you can simply reach out to another internet company that is a participant of the ACP to apply the benefits to a separate internet service.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Income is Used for ACP?
People are qualified for this program if their total income is either equal to 200% or less than the stated federal poverty guidelines.
How do you Qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program?
There’s a specific list of requirements you need to meet to be eligible for the ACP. Some of these include whether or not you’re already an existing participant of certain assistance programs or a Federal Pell Grantee during the same year of award.
New government internet programs like the ACP are instrumental in allowing low-income households to have access to the Internet by providing them with low-cost expenses needed for broadband services. Willing applicants should first check whether they fit the eligibility criteria then submit an application either through mail or in person to receive the perks offered by ACP.