Good news for active duty military members, veterans and survivors! If you are a user of the internet (like most of the population) you are now eligible for free or discounted internet access and up to $100 off the purchase of a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer, thanks to something called the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. The program was initiated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help low-income Americans with the cost of stable internet access. Keep reading to find out when and how to apply for the discount program if you qualify.
Am I Eligible for the Broadband Discount?
If you want to apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, you or a member of your household must first meet any of the following criteria:
- Income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines.
- Qualifies for Lifeline assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Veterans & Survivors Pension Benefits.
- Participates in Tribal specific programs via the Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal Head Start, or Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families on Indian Reservations.
- Received benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch or breakfast program.
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year.
- Experienced substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 (Total household income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers).
- Meets the eligibility criteria for participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 programs.
In much of the country, a family of four can make around $36,000 a year to be eligible for the program, while a family of two can make around $24,000. However, income levels vary by state. The income counted by the program includes salary, unemployment, social security, veterans’ benefits, survivor benefits, and/pension and retirement income. Even if some families make more than the federal poverty level indicated in the program, they may still qualify if they are receiving a Pell grant, SNAP benefits, free or reduced-school lunches or they suffered a substantial loss of income in the past year.
Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Details
Eligible households enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program can receive:
- Up to $50 per month off of the cost of their broadband service and equipment rental.
- Up to $75 off per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands.
- Eligible households may receive up $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer or tablet from participating providers if they contribute between $10 and $50 towards the purchase price.
- Only one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.
When Can I Sign Up?
Eligible households may begin signing up for benefits by May 12, 2021. Those who enroll in the program will receive a monthly discount off the cost of their internet service from an approved provider. Those eligible can enroll directly through their approved provider or through the site GetEmergencyBroadband.org. Many internet providers are participating in the program, and would be happy to help eligible customers enroll. Find a list of approved providers offering the Emergency Broadband Benefit in your area by going directly to this link or using this search tool.
You can also apply by mail. Complete the application and send with proof of eligibility to:
Emergency Broadband Support Center
P.O. Box 7081
London, KY 40742
Documentation is required to show household income, which may include:
- Prior year’s state, federal, or Tribal tax return
- Current paystub or income statement from your employer
- Social Security statement of benefits
- VA statement of benefits
- Unemployment statement of benefits
- Worker’s Compensation statement of benefits
- Divorce decree, child support award, or a similar official document
- A retirement or pension statement of benefits
A copy of a valid form of identification must also be provided. Choose one from the following list:
- Social Security Number
- Tribal Identification Number
- U.S. Driver’s License
- Government-issued ID, such as a state ID
- U.S. Military ID
- Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
Identity documents must have your first and last name and your date of birth. Use of your Social Security Number is NOT required, but program guidelines indicate that those who do submit their SSN will have their applications processed faster than others who do not.
Military Discount Categories
Ruth Brown lives in Arizona with her partner and four dogs. She currently designs websites and graphics full time, and likes to go hiking when not battling the heat.