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Congress approved the Emergency Broadband Benefit Progam (EEB) in the final stimulus bill signed by former President Donald Trump in December 2020. Eligible households will be able to sign up for the internet subsidy beginning Wednesday, May 12, 2021.
The Federal Communications Committee (FCC) EEB Program will provide support for internet services to assist low-income households to stay connected to jobs, healthcare services, virtual classrooms, and more during the coronavirus pandemic. The stimulus package established an Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund of $3.2 billion. Families would receive up to $50 a month to help offset the cost of internet services from an approved provider or up to $75 per month on qualifying Tribal lands.
Households can enroll through their provider or the FCC. To find participating internet providers go to getemergencybroadband.org/companies-near-me/.
Additionally, as part of the subsidy, eligible families can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a desktop computer, tablet, or laptop from a participating provider; they must contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price. Drake at the EBB Program helpline explained more information for internet-supported device assistance will be available once the program has launched.
Eligibility Requirements for Internet Assistance
Only one monthly service discount and one device discount are allowed per household even if more than one person residing at the same address is eligible.
To qualify for internet assistance through the EBB Program, a person or any member in their household must participate in one of the following federal assistance programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
- Supplemental Income (SSI).
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA).
- Veteran’s Pension and Survivors Benefit Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program.
- Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, including at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Eligibility Provision schools
- Received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year.
Tribal Specific Programs:
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance.
- Tribal Head Start (only households meeting the relevant income qualifying standard).
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF).
- Food Distribution on Indian Reservations.
When applying for internet assistance, proof of participation in one of these programs, such as a card, letter, or official document, may be requested.
Households can apply for internet assistance if their income is 135 percent or less than the federal poverty guidelines. The guideline is based on household size and state.
For example, a family of four in the 48 Contiguous States, D.C., and Territories qualify if their annual income is no higher than $35,775; in Alaska, $44,726; in Hawaii, $41,148. A chart of these guidelines can be found on the link listed in the sources below. When applying for income-based internet assistance, proof of income like pay stubs or a tax return is required.
A household might qualify for the EBB Progam if they experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020. For more eligibility information, check out the “Do I Qualify” link in the sources listed below.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will end when the monies are depleted or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency, whichever happens first.
Remember, no one from the FCC or other government agencies will ever initiate communication by phone or text. Eligible households must apply for internet assistance through the EBB Progam application portal online.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
BGR: Here’s when you can sign up to get $50 a month from the FCC to help pay for your internet; by Jacob Siegal
FCC: What is the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program? fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit
Universal Administrative Co.: Do I Qualify? getemergencybroadband.org/do-i-qualify/
Universal Administrative Co.: Federal Poverty Guidelines: lifelinesupport.org/do-i-qualify/federal-poverty-guidelines/
Featured and Inset Image Courtesy of US Department of Education’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License