At a time when everything is getting more expensive, it’s no wonder why cost is the number one thing preventing low-income households from getting online.
At Human-I-T, we believe that access to technology and information is a right – not a privilege.
That’s why we wanted to kick off the year with this quick explainer of the ways budget-conscious households can access quality, high-speed internet for a low cost.
Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll feel empowered with the information you need to make an educated decision while buying internet access.
Internet service providers offering discounted internet access
In May 2022, President Biden announced 20 internet service providers (ISPs) had committed to offering high-speed internet to income-eligible households for $30 or less per month.
Collectively, these 20 ISPs offer high-speed internet access to areas where over 80% of the US population lives, including nearly 50% of rural households.
ISPs who made commitments to providing low-cost internet plans include:
We’re pleased that these providers have taken an important step to helping low-income households connect to online opportunities.
However, we want to make sure that anyone who tries to access cheap internet through a private ISP isn’t left with any surprises during the internet signup process.
So, here are three things to keep in mind while signing up for affordable internet through a private ISP:
- Some plans may have introductory pricing that eventually increases. Try to negotiate the terms of your plan to ensure your plan remains affordable.
- Read the fine print to uncover potential additional charges and be aware of early termination fees that may be present.
- Only purchase the speed you need. If you’re living alone and only occasionally use the internet, it’s unlikely you need a high-speed plan. On the other hand, if you live with multiple people who stream movies, play games online, or attend video calls for work, a high-speed plan might make sense.
Government-funded programs for low-income internet service
You don’t have to sign up for low-cost internet directly through a private ISP if you don’t want to.
Instead, you can take advantage of one of several government programs that offer low-income households affordable internet access.
Currently, there are two main programs that assist low-income households with getting high-speed internet: Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). We’ll explain both a bit more below.
Lifeline benefits for discounted internet
Lifeline provides a discount of $9.25 per month (or $34.25 per month for people living on qualifying tribal lands) on a variety of internet and phone services, including landlines, cellphones, home internet, and internet-phone bundles.
To qualify for Lifeline, individuals must have an income below 135% of the federal poverty level or show current participation in certain government assistance programs, such as Medicaid, SNAP, Social Security, Free or Reduced School Lunch, and more.
For more information on how to sign up for Lifeline benefits, click here.
Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) benefits for discounted internet
The ACP offers a discount of up to $30 per month (and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying tribal lands) for monthly internet service.
Eligibility for the ACP includes enrollment in Lifeline benefits or an income below 200% of the Federal poverty guidelines. Households can also qualify for the ACP by proving their participation in certain government assistance programs such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Section 8 housing, and more.
The ACP partners with various internet service providers (ISPs) to offer internet plans with a minimum download speed of 100 Mbps for $30 or less per month. Households that set up new ACP internet plans through nonprofit internet providers like Human-I-T receive free internet for the duration of the program. Human-I-T also offers ACP-eligible households a $100 voucher (which can be used towards the purchase of ACP-eligible laptops) after a one-time purchase of a hotspot for $80.
For more information on how to sign up for the program and receive ACP benefits, click here.
FAQs about getting discounted internet or free internet
How do I find free or low-cost internet near me?
Finding free or discounted internet plans in your area is easy thanks to nonprofit organizations like Human-I-T that offer direct help finding, applying for, and connecting with low-cost internet or even free internet plans in your area.
How can students get discounted internet?
Students in low-income households have a variety of ways to access low-cost and affordable internet.
First, K-12 students who are currently receiving reduced or free school lunch are automatically qualified for Lifeline benefits. This also means that they are qualified for ACP benefits which, in some cases, can mean they can receive free internet.
Additionally, some ISPs offer discounts to college-age students, with rates differing for students living on- or off-campus.
To learn more about low-cost internet options for students, click here.
How can seniors get discounted internet?
Unfortunately, there is currently no government program or private internet plan specifically set up to help seniors receive discounted internet.
Seniors who want access to low-cost or no-cost internet have a variety of options to pick from. The easiest way for seniors to get low-cost internet is to apply for either Lifeline or ACP benefits.
Seniors who are participating in Medicare, Social Security, VA benefits, and other assistance programs often also qualify for low-cost, income-qualified plans offered by private ISPs.
To learn more about low-cost internet options for seniors, click here.
How can veterans get discounted internet?
Veterans unfortunately have very limited options from the private marketplace to pick from when trying to access discounted or free internet.
However, many veterans can qualify for affordable internet at home by signing up for Lifeline or ACP benefits.
Thankfully, it’s relatively easy for veterans to prove that they qualify for both programs. Veterans can qualify for both Lifeline or the ACP by presenting a current statement of benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, or providing documentation proving their enrollment in certain government assistance programs.
To learn more about low-cost internet options for veterans, click here.
Find low-cost internet in your area today with Human-I-T!
Trust us when we say this: it has never been easier for people to access low-cost or free internet in their area.
If you’re looking for a way to access opportunities online without breaking the bank, get in touch with Human-I-T! Our staff is here to help you find and access the right internet plans for you and your budget.
Click below to get online today!