Emergency Broadband Benefit Program provides a temporary discount on monthly internet bills for qualifying households

By Ardith Van Riper

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began accepting applications for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program on May 12, 2021.  The program provides a temporary discount on monthly internet bills for qualifying households during the pandemic. 

Those eligible can receive: up to a $50 per month discount on broadband services and associated equipment rentals; up to $75 per month discount if the household is on qualifying tribal lands; or a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50).  Only one service discount and one device discount per household.

A household must meet one of the following:

·         Household income at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines;

·         Qualifies for Lifeline benefits through participation in SNAP, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, or Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit;

·         Participates in one of several Tribal specific programs: Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal Head Start (meeting the relevant income qualifying standard), Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations;

·         Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020, with a total household income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers;

·         Received a federal Pell Grant in the current award year;

·         Received approval for benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year; or

·         Meets the eligibility criteria for participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program, and that provider received FCC approval for its eligibility verification process.

The FCC accepts online applications and mail-in applications.  Applicants should ask their internet provider if they participate in the EBB Program or use the online tool to find a participating company near them.

For more information, to see if you qualify, or to apply, visit getemergencybroadband.org.

The program is slated to end when the funds are exhausted or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COPVID-19 health emergency, whichever is sooner.