How to Get Cheap or Free Internet Through the Affordable Connectivity Program
You might be missing out on discounted internet and not even know it.
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) grants up to $30 a month toward high-speed internet for qualifying households.
The nation’s biggest internet providers also offer plans of $30 or less per month for qualifying households — meaning millions of families can get high-speed internet for free.
More than 17 million households are now receiving discounts through the program, according to an April 2023 news release from the Federal Communications Commission.
The government estimates millions more households qualify but haven’t signed up for the program yet.
Is your family one of them?
What Does the Affordable Connectivity Program Offer?
Through the Affordable Connectivity Program, qualifying households can receive a discount of up to $30 a month (or $75 a month for those living on tribal lands) for home internet access or mobile internet service.
Households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 for a computer or tablet.
The program is saving Americans an estimated $500 million per month on internet access through low-cost plans, discounts and subsidies, according to the White House.
Who Qualifies for Discounted Internet?
There are two main ways to qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program:
- Your household income, which must be at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.
- Enrollment in certain government benefit programs.
You can qualify for the ACP if you or someone in your household participates in one of these programs:
- Free and reduced-price school lunch program or school breakfast program
- Federal Pell Grant (received in the current award year)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Lifeline program
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Veterans pension and survivors benefit
- Certain tribal assistance programs
The table below reflects the income limits for the program by household size. Income limits for eligible households are slightly higher for residents of Alaska and Hawaii.
ACP Household Income Limits
|200% of Poverty Guidelines
How to Apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program
The government website GetInternet.gov provides details on how to sign up for the ACP and find a local participating provider.
On the website’s homepage, you can check to see if you qualify and start an application.
The application process is quick and easy, though you’ll need to provide some personal information like your Social Security number or driver’s license number.
There are also instructions on how to apply for the ACP by mail.
What to Do After You Apply
Once your application is approved, you can choose a company that offers an ACP monthly service discount and sign up for service.
You’ll need to call a participating internet service provider, let them know you applied for the ACP and choose an internet plan. The company will then apply the benefit to your plan for you.
Participating plans must offer download speeds of at least 100MB per second.
You can also sign up for the ACP benefit through your existing internet service provider if it participates in the program.
There are over 1,300 internet service providers that accept the ACP benefit. You can use this tool to find contact information for participating companies in your area.
If you apply your ACP benefit to one of these plans, you should have no out-of-pocket costs, no additional fees and no data caps on your internet bill.
Keep in mind that a participating provider may require you to apply through its own application process.
Several major carriers — including AT&T, Comcast and Cox Communications — are among the hundreds of providers offering at least one high-speed plan for $30 a month or less.
Free Money for a Laptop
Those who qualify for discounted internet through the Affordable Connectivity Program can also receive up to $100 toward a one-time purchase of a desktop computer, laptop or tablet.
To qualify for this benefit, a household must contribute at least $10 but no more than $50 toward the purchase of a device through a participating broadband provider.
Other Details and Contact Information
The Affordable Connectivity Program does not have asset limits like some social service programs.
The subsidies also do not count as income for determining government benefits. Receiving an ACP grant does not impact a family’s eligibility for other assistance programs, like Section 8 housing.
The ACP is being funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law in November 2021. The law transitioned the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) to the new permanent Affordable Connectivity Program.
Recently, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced a new investment of more than $175 million to 61 minority-serving institutions to help fund high-speed internet infrastructure, purchase equipment and provide digital skills training for IT staff.
For more information about the Affordable Connectivity Program, call the support center at 877-384-2575. It’s open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. You can also email [email protected].
Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a former senior writer for The Penny Hoarder. She focuses on retirement, investing, taxes and life insurance