Millions of Americans now qualify for discounted or free internet access thanks to an expanded federal program announced by the White House on Monday.
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) grants up to $30 a month toward high-speed internet for qualifying households.
Twenty of the nation’s largest internet providers are also offering plans of $30 or less per month for qualifying households.
If you qualify for an ACP grant, pairing it with a low-cost plan could mean free high-speed internet access.
The White House estimates the program will cover 48 million households, or 40% of the country.
Who Qualifies for Discounted Internet?
There are two main ways to qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program:
- Your household income, which must be at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.
- Enrollment in certain government benefit programs.
You can qualify for the ACP if you or someone in your household participates in one of these programs:
- Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program
- Federal Pell Grant (received in the current award year)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- Certain Tribal assistance programs
The table below reflects the income limits for the program by household size.
ACP Household Income Limits
|Household Size||200% of Federal Poverty Line 2022|
|For each additional person, add:||$9,440|
How to Apply
The government created a new website called GetInternet.gov that provides details on how to sign up for the ACP and find local participating internet providers.
On the website’s homepage, you can check to see if you qualify and start an application.
The application process is quick and easy, though you’ll need to provide some personal information like your Social Security number or driver’s license number.
There are also instructions on how to apply for the ACP by mail.
Once your application is approved, you can choose a company that offers ACP discounts and sign up for service.
You’ll need to call a participating internet service provider, let them know you applied for the ACP and choose an internet plan. The company will then apply the benefit to your plan for you.
Participating plans must offer download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second.
You can also sign up for the ACP benefit through your existing internet service provider if it participates in the program.
There are over 1,300 internet providers that accept the ACP benefit. You can use this tool to find contact information for participating companies in your area.
Keep in mind that participating providers may require you to apply through their company’s own application process.
Who Are the Participating Providers?
While more than 1,300 internet providers accept the $30 monthly ACP benefit, 20 companies are now offering a high-speed internet plan for $30 per month or less.
If you apply your ACP benefit to one of these plans, you should have no out-of-pocket costs for internet with no additional fees and no data caps.
Here is a list of the 20 companies:
- Allo Communications
- AltaFiber (and Hawaiian Telecom)
- Altice (Optimum and Suddenlink)
- Cox Communications
- Jackson Energy Authority
- Spectrum (Charter Communications)
- Verizon (Fios only)
- Vermont Telephone Company
- Vexus Fiber
- Wow! Internet, Cable and TV
Free Money for a Laptop
Those who qualify for discounted internet through the ACP can also receive up to $100 toward a one-time purchase of a computer, laptop or tablet.
To qualify for this benefit, a household must contribute at least $10 but no more than $50 toward the purchase of a device through a participating broadband provider.
Ask your internet company if they offer devices or check out this list from the Federal Communications Commission to see which companies offer a device benefit.
Other Details and Contact Information
The Affordable Connectivity Program does not have asset limits like some social service programs.
The subsidies also do not count as income for determining government benefits and receiving an ACP grant does not impact a family’s eligibility for other assistance programs, like Section 8 housing.
The ACP is being funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law in November 2021. The law transitioned the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) to the new permanent Affordable Connectivity Program.
Not everyone who qualified for the EBB during the pandemic will continue to get a discount under the ACP. You must meet the new eligibility requirements described above, and you may need to submit a new application.
For more information about the Affordable Connectivity Program, call the support center at 877-384-2575. It’s open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.
You can also email [email protected].
Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for Codetic.