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While most of the talk has been around stimulus checks and rent protections, the U.S. government has also been working on other various forms of support as the country continues to struggle with COVID-19-related problems. That’s why the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is starting a new program in May 2021 that will allow Americans to save as much as $50 on their monthly internet bill.
It’s no secret that the internet has become more important than ever during the time of coronavirus. People are working from home and depending on their own internet connections to get everything done (a trend that is unlikely to go away even as vaccines roll out). That also means many people are finding that their current ISP allowances – and internet quality – aren’t really up to the task of working from home every day. Many people are in a difficult position of switching to higher data caps and speeds that cost more or running into their current data caps and receiving fees for going over them.
Enter the Emergency Broadband Benefit, an FCC program designed to address these exact issues.
Beginning on May 12th, qualifying people will be able to sign up and receive federal assistance for their internet bills.
If you’re interested, we suggest visiting the EBB webpage immediately and start checking on your eligibility, which may be more complicated than you’d expect.
The first option for eligibility is your income level, which needs to be at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, which vary based on where you live and the number of people in your household (we said it was complicated).
The second option is earning eligibility through alternative conditions, so you can still qualify for the $50 discount if you:
- Are part of assistance programs like SNAP, Lifeline, and Medicaid.
- Are approved to receive benefits as part of school breakfast/lunch programs.
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year.
- Have recently experienced a “substantial loss of income” because of job loss or furlough since March 2020.
- Are part of other programs related to income or COVID-19 issues that are also participating in the Emergency Broadband Benefit (this also includes a wide variety of tribal programs).
As you can see, it’s a good idea to do some research now to see if you should sign up on May 12th with all the right paperwork ready.
You’ll need to provide proof of income or certification for the programs we mentioned above, scanned and ready to upload. On the 12th, visit the FCC’s webpage again and you will be able to sign up.
Once you are admitted into the program, contact your internet service provider immediately and let them know. You may have to switch to a different plan to receive the discount.
The discount is expected to last as long as funding permits, or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services officially ends its COVID-19 emergency declaration – whichever comes first.