How Low-Income Americans Can Demand High-Speed Internet
The Affordable Connectivity Program provides discounted Internet service to low-income Americans. Here’s who qualifies and how to apply.
Twenty internet companies have agreed to provide discounted high-speed internet service to tens of millions of low-income Americans, President Joe Biden announced Monday, May 9.
The Affordable Connectivity Program, funded by $14.2 billion included in the $1 trillion infrastructure package that Congress passed in 2021, provides monthly internet grants of $30 and monthly grants of $75 in tribal areas, for low-income households.
VERIFY viewer Deborah texted the team asking how to sign up for the discounted internet service.
Do eligible Americans need to enroll in the Affordable Connectivity Program to receive discounted internet service?
Yes, eligible Americans must enroll in the Affordable Connectivity Program to receive discounted internet service.
WHAT WE FOUND
Households are eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) based on their income or by participating in certain federal programs such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and special supplemental nutrition for women, infants and children (WIC), among others.
The agencies that run these federal programs will reach out to CPA-eligible households, according to the White House. For example, SSI recipients who have a “My Social Security” account will receive emails notifying them that they are eligible. Select US cities and states will also send text messages to millions of eligible Americans.
People are eligible for the program if their income is 200% or less than the federal poverty guidelines. That’s $27,180 for a one-person household in 48 US states and Washington, DC (excluding Alaska and Hawaii), and $55,500 for a four-person household. You can find more information about income limits based on household size on the program’s website.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the government agency that oversees the program, there are two steps for those looking to enroll in the program.
First, submit an application online or visit the CPA website to print an application by mail. Second, once your request is approved, contact a participating ISP to select a plan and have the discount applied to your bill.
Some people may receive immediate approval, while others may need to send additional documents for review. The FCC advises that some ISPs may also have an alternate application that must be met.
Major ISPs, including CenturyLink, AT&T, Verizon, Xfinity, and Spectrum, also have online instructions on applying for ACP.
The five providers say customers must first qualify for the program by applying on the CPA’s website. Then you can either fill out an online form (for CenturyLink) or call (for Verizon and Spectrum) to enroll in the program. AT&T and Xfinity also have more information about program enrollment options on their websites.
An online tool can help eligible people find CPA-participating internet businesses. The FCC also has a list of participating providers on its website.
What if you are already subscribed to another low-income Internet program?
Those who already subscribe to Lifeline, a federal program that lowers the cost of phone or Internet service, do not need to reapply for CPA, according to the program’s website. Instead, they can contact their Internet company directly to register.
Lifeline subscribers can also talk to their provider about services they might offer under CPA, including the ability to apply discounts to their existing service.
People who are already on another low-income program with their ISP probably don’t need to reapply for the CPA discount. They should contact their Internet company directly to see if they can enroll in the program.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.