The FCC Is Helping Americans Pay Their Internet Bills—Here’s Who Qualifies

Public school isn't free if you have to pay for internet access.
Public school isn't free if you have to pay for internet access. / praetorianphoto/iStock via Getty Images

For many Americans, stimulus checks were the immediate focal point of the federal government’s $900 billion coronavirus relief package passed in December 2020. But the package included some other helpful programs, too.

One of them, as Kiplinger reports, is the Federal Communications Commission’s $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. Basically, the government is recognizing that the pandemic has forced work, school, doctor’s appointments, and other vital activities to happen completely online, and internet access has become more of a necessity than ever before. To ease the financial strain, the FCC will cover at least $50 of your monthly internet bill if you qualify for the program (and if your service provider is one of the 800 or so providers that agreed to participate). That minimum sum rises to $75 if you live on certain Tribal lands. And you can also claim $100 to buy a new laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.

There’s a pretty extensive list of ways you can qualify for the program, which you can check out here. See a few main ones below:

  • If you’ve “experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020 due to job loss or furlough” and you earned $99,000 or less in 2020 ($198,000 or less for joint filers).
  • If children in your household participate in the free and reduced-price school lunch program or school breakfast program.
  • If you qualify for Lifeline programs like Medicaid or the Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit.

If you are eligible, don’t hesitate to enroll. The FCC will discontinue the program as soon as it has exhausted the fund, or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services issues a statement terminating the current public health emergency. (The most recent renewal of the public health emergency occurred in April 2021).

You can find out how to apply online, by mail, or through your service provider here.

[h/t Kiplinger]