Over 13 Million Households Just Got Free or Cheap High-Speed Internet. Could You, Too?

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  • Internet is a necessary service these days.
  • An estimated 48 million people in the U.S. are eligible to get it for free or at a reduced rate.
  • The Affordable Connectivity Project is making internet service accessible to lower income households.

You may be eligible for a nice break on your internet service.

There was a point in time many years back when internet service was considered a luxury more so than a necessity. But those days are long behind us.

These days, many people work from home in some capacity, and they need internet service to make that possible. Similarly, many students rely on the internet to research school projects or collaborate on group ones. And let's not forget that just a couple of years ago, students all over the country were doing their schooling online when the pandemic took in-person learning off the table. (While we'd like to think those days are behind us, you just never know.)

The problem, though, is that internet service is an expense many families can't afford. This especially holds true these days given the way inflation has driven the cost of living upward to such an extreme degree.

The good news, however, is that you don't necessarily need to run up a giant credit card balance to cover the cost of internet service in your household. You may be eligible for a federal program that subsidizes the cost of internet service so it's far more affordable for you.

Could you get a break on your internet bill?

In late 2021, the Affordable Connectivity Program was launched, and it aims to make internet service accessible to all households. Under the program, you may be eligible for a monthly discount of up to $30 on internet service, or up to $75 if you live on qualifying tribal lands. You may also be eligible for a one-time discount of up to $100 (after shelling out $10 to $50 of your own money) for a laptop, tablet, or other device you can access the internet from.

The Affordable Connectivity Program isn't the first program to make internet service more widely accessible. During the pandemic, the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program had a similar goal. But that program was also a temporary one, whereas this one is more long term. 

Do you qualify for free or reduced internet service?

Since the Affordable Connectivity Program was launched, an estimated 13.4 million households have signed up for it. But it's estimated that up to 48 million families, or about 40% of U.S. households, are actually eligible, so it pays to see if you qualify.

One way to qualify is to have a gross household income that doesn't exceed 200% of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that means an income that doesn't exceed $55,500 in most of the country. 

You can also qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program if you or another member of your household was given a federal Pell Grant for education this year. Similarly, you can qualify if you're eligible for SNAP benefits, or if you have a child who's eligible for reduced meals through their school district. You can consult this list for additional means of qualifying. 

These days, internet service is basically a non-negotiable expense. And it's one you shouldn't hesitate to get help paying for. 

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