FCC reveals sign-up date and website for $50-per-month broadband subsidies
Enrollment for $50-per-month broadband subsidies for US residents with low incomes or those who lost income during the pandemic will begin on May 12, the Federal Communications Commission announced today. The FCC also set up a new website at which people can sign up for the subsidies.
“As of May 12, 2021, eligible households will be able to enroll in the program to receive a monthly discount off the cost of broadband service from an approved provider. Eligible households can enroll through an approved provider or by visiting https://getemergencybroadband.org,” the FCC said.
Congress approved the subsidies in December, but it took a few months for the FCC to set up the program. The FCC had previously said enrollment would begin at the end of April. Check out this list of providers to determine whether your ISP is participating in the discount program. There’s also a “Companies Near Me” tool that will become active closer to the May 12 start date.
“The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will provide eligible households with discounts of up to $50 a month for broadband service, and up to $75 a month if the household is on Tribal lands. It also will provide a one-time discount of up to $100 on a computer or tablet for eligible households,” the FCC said.
The subsidies will not last indefinitely. They “will end when the fund runs out of money or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency, whichever is sooner,” the program website said. “Participating households will need to opt in to continue receiving broadband services from their provider after the program ends. If a household chooses to continue receiving service after the end of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, they will be billed the broadband provider’s general monthly rate.”
Congress provided $3.2 billion for the subsidies, and pending legislation would add another $6 billion to the emergency fund if it’s approved.
Multiple ways to qualify
Households with incomes at or below 135 percent of federal poverty guidelines qualify for the subsidy. As explained on the “Do I Qualify?” page, the subsidy is also available to households if any member of the household:
- 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 (only households 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
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program, and that provider received FCC approval for its eligibility verification process
The FCC website explains how to apply and lists the documents people may need to provide to prove that they are eligible.