Internet access was once considered a luxury, but today it’s vital for paying your bills, applying for jobs, and home entertainment. Homeowners facing financial hardship can still access cheap internet for the home through government programs such as the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) which offers a tablet for as little as $10.01 and data to use for the tablet!
If you qualify, you can enjoy low-income internet service for as long as you continue to meet the requirements. Here is everything you need to know about qualifications and how to apply for low-income internet.
Each program has different standards, but several qualifications may make you eligible for most low-income options.
Firstly, you may qualify for ACP if your household income is less than or equal to 200% of the current Federal Poverty Guidelines or participation in Lifeline, Medicaid, SNAP, WIC, free or reduced-price school lunch/breakfast, or Pell Grant and is determined by the National Verifier (documentation may be required).
Currently, the federal poverty level is $13,590 for individuals, $18,310 for a family of two, and $23,030 for a family of three in 2022.
However, if your household income is above these levels, you may also qualify if you are receiving government assistance. Examples of government assistance programs include:
A range of other government programs may also qualify you for free government internet for low-income families.
If you’re wondering, “How do I get free government internet?” we’ve got answers!
Depending on your household income and other factors, you may qualify for free or discounted internet. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and Lifeline are the leading low-cost internet options.
Note if you are already enrolled in the Lifeline program, you may qualify for ACP which provides additional internet data each month, but you need to opt in manually to receive your ACP benefit.
Only certain Lifeline providers offer low-income WiFi for the home, however many mobile wireless companies, such as enTouch Wireless, offer internet access via mobile data through the ACP and the Lifeline programs. Below, you will learn how to apply for low-income internet through both programs.
The purpose of the ACP is to help low-income households pay for their internet for work and school. Only one household member needs to meet the criteria to participate, hence why those that fail to meet the income requirements may still qualify.
The ACP is the best low-cost internet program because it provides up to $30 off your internet access cost per month. If you live on designated Tribal lands, you could receive up to $75 per month. These subsidies allow families to get connected at a discounted rate or completely free!
However, be aware that the ACP does not operate like a tax credit and therefore you will not receive any of the leftover balance in cash.
ACP benefits can be combined with other programs, such as the Lifeline program, so even if you live in a high-cost-of-living state, you could still take advantage of free internet in addition to free monthly talk and text.
You may qualify for ACP if you qualify and/or receive the Lifeline benefit since both programs share a majority of the same requirements. If you qualify for both ACP and Lifeline, you will receive a discount through both programs which allows you to get more data, talk, and text for free every month with enTouch Wireless.
You may also qualify for free internet if you are already part of government assistance plans, like the Federal Public Housing Assistance or Supplemental Security Income programs. If you’re a senior who qualifies for Medicaid, you may also meet the requirements for ACP and Lifeline.
Your income may also qualify you if it is equal to or less than 200% of the federal poverty level. It’s another reason so many seniors who live solely on Social Security can take advantage of subsidized internet packages.
Finally, please note that if you have received a Federal Pell Grant this year or qualify for a low-income internet package through your internet provider, you may also qualify for ACP.
There are three options for applying for the ACP discount:
Lifeline is a federal program designed to make phone services and the internet affordable for low-income consumers. If you are asking, “Where to find cheap WiFi near me?” Lifeline combined with ACP can offer plenty of data per month for your internet needs.
Lifeline was established in 1985 to reduce the cost of communication services for low-income households. The program provides discounts on monthly telephone package and discounted broadband. If you qualify, you can only purchase phone or internet packages from participating providers.
The value of the benefit is a maximum $9.25 discount, with this figure rising to $34.25 if you live on Tribal lands.
Note that the application process differs if you live in California, Oregon, or Texas.
Like the ACP, taking advantage of low internet costs relies on qualifying via your income or federal assistance programs.
The threshold for qualifying for Lifeline is equal to or less than 135% of the current Federal Poverty Guidelines. The guidelines change based on your household size and where you live. When applying for Lifeline, you will usually need to supply a tax return or three consecutive paystubs to prove your income.
You can also qualify through several assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Medicaid.
Since there’s so much crossover regarding which government assistance programs will make you eligible, nearly everyone who qualifies for one program may also qualify for the other.
You may be asked for proof of your participation in a federal assistance program, such as with an official document or benefits letter.
Participation and application requirements vary by state. Most states have online portals for residents to apply. However, the process rarely changes from one state to another.
Begin by completing an application on the National Verifier. The National Verifier portal will confirm your eligibility.
After being approved, you can enroll in the Lifeline program provided by a participating telephone or broadband provider. Every provider will have its system for enrolling in the program. Some providers, such as Spectrum and Verizon, only offer Lifeline in certain states, while others such as enTouch Wireless, provide Lifeline in over 30 states.
Your eligibility will be automatically checked annually. You must meet the requirements every year to continue to receive your discount. However, if you are rejected, you can submit a new application to see if you qualify to get your benefit reinstated.
Obtaining free internet phone service for home, school, and work is relatively straightforward when working with enTouch Wireless.
We provide various resources to help you determine your eligibility and file an application. Everyone has different needs and lifestyles, so you want to find the right cell phone or internet package that best suits you. Browse our guides to learn more about the program you want to apply for.
Learn more about free and low-cost internet and how to apply for ACP and Lifeline cell phone service.