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In a low-income US household? You may qualify for $30 off your internet bill
Let’s face it, times are tough for some of us. The cost of living has greatly jumped in the last few years. This has prompted many of us to cut costs wherever we can by switching to cheaper prepaid phone plans, ad-based streaming services, going out to eat less, and the list goes on. There might be another potential discount you’re unaware of. If you’re a low-income US household, you may be able to save on your monthly internet bill through the Affordable Connectivity Program.
What is the Affordable Connectivity Program?
The Affordable Connectivity Program was originally introduced in response to the pandemic and the need for internet access for students and workers stuck at home. It gives a $30 discount on qualifying ISP or phone service to those that qualify under its low-income guidelines. Those who live on qualifying tribal land will receive a bigger $ 75-a-month discount. Additionally, all ACP qualifiers will get a device discount of up to $100 that can be applied towards a tablet, laptop, or another online-capable device.
If you’re wondering if the affordable connectivity program is legitimate, the answer is yes. The program is funded by Congress through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Not all ISPs participate in the program, but many do. This includes big names like Comcast, Spectrum, Mediacom, and many others. A few big names, like Starlink, are notably absent. You can find the full list of supported ISPs and carriers at the FCC’s official site.
How to qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program
You’ll automatically qualify if you or a dependent is already enrolled in a US government assistance program like Medicaid, Snap, or WIC. If you aren’t on one of these programs, you can still qualify if your income is 200% or less than the Federal Poverty guidelines. For those with just one household member, that’s $29,160, except in Alaska and Hawaii, where it’s higher at $36,420 and $33,540, respectively. For a typical family of 4, that’s $60,000.
You can learn more about qualification requirements at the official ACP website.
How to apply for Affordable Connectivity Program
Applying is actually really simple. If you are already on the government’s Lifeline assistance program for phone service, you’ll just need to contact your ISP directly. You will not need to apply for ACP; it’s automatic in this case. For those that are in a different low-income program already, you’ll need to reach out to your ISP to see if you can enroll in the program but likely will not need to apply directly through the government website.
For those that aren’t on any assistance, you’ll want to head online and create an ACP application. The results will be nearly instantaneous. If approved, you’ll then need to reach out to your ISP or a new ISP to activate the ACP discount. Once again, you can find the full list of ISPs and phone service providers that work with ACP on their website.
How long will the Affordable Connectivity Program last?
That’s a harder question to answer. As with all things Congress, renewing funding can be tricky. The good news is there is bipartisan support to bring broadband access to low-income Americans. That said, the program could change or be replaced by another in the future. As things stand, the ACP should continue to stand at least until 2024. Depending on the economy and what Congress comes up with down the line, it could end up sticking around for much longer.
What if I don’t qualify for ACP?
Unfortunately, if you don’t qualify for ACP, you won’t qualify for Safeline either. It has even stricter requirements. While you won’t find assistance, the good news is that there are many affordable and cheaper phone plan options that can often be used with hotspots or hotspot mode. Beyond that, your only choice is to shop around and try to take advantage of initial sign-up offers with better discount rates. Once that runs out, you can always sign up for another ISP. Rinse and repeat.