Broadband subsidy for low-income Americans starts on May 12


American families below or close to the poverty line will soon be able to apply for a broadband subsidy worth $50 per month, as part of the COVID relief package. Applications open on May 12, with a number of additional ways to qualify…

The relief program was introduced after the White House said that Internet access is “the new electricity.

Generations ago, the federal government recognized that without affordable access to electricity, Americans couldn’t fully participate in modern society and the modern economy. With the 1936 Rural Electrification Act, the federal government made a historic investment in bringing electricity to nearly every home and farm in America, and millions of families and our economy reaped the benefits.

Broadband internet is the new electricity. It is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected.

CNET reports.

Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic who need assistance paying their broadband bills will soon get some help. The $50 a month broadband subsidy promised as part of the COVID-19 relief package Congress passed in December will be made available to low-income individuals starting in two weeks.

The Federal Communication Commission said Thursday that households would be able to begin applying for the Emergency Broadband Benefit on May 12.

The $3.2 billion emergency relief program offers a subsidy of up to $50 a month to low-income households and up to $75 a month to households on Native American land to pay for broadband service. The FCC will also provide a onetime discount to poor households of up to $100 to purchase a computer or tablet.

The FCC says that anyone who already qualifies for their broadband provider’s own low-income/pandemic relief program will automatically qualify, as will the following groups of people:

  • Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
  • Approved to receive 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;
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020, and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers.

A higher $75/month subsidy is available to households on qualifying tribal lands.

Additionally, all eligible families can claim a $100 one-off discount to purchase a laptop or tablet. You’ll be able to apply here when applications open.

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