As the new school year approaches, families struggling to afford Internet access can get help through a federal program to help them stay connected.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit, launched by the Federal Communications Commission in May, offers a monthly rebate of up to $ 50 for qualifying families. Households on tribal lands are eligible for discounts of up to $ 75, according to the program’s website.
The program can also help with the purchase of laptops and other equipment. A one-time discount of up to $ 100 is applied to equipment purchases from participating vendors if a participant provides between $ 10 and $ 50 off the purchase price.
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To be eligible, a family or household must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Has income at or below 135% of Federal Poverty Guidelines (or $ 29,646 for a three-person household) or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline.
- Approved to receive benefits under the Free and Discounted School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision for the 2019-2020 school year or 2020-2021
- Received a Federal Pell Grant in current award year.
- Has experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or leave since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 equal to or less than $ 99,000 for single filers and 198,000 $ for joint filers.
- Meets the eligibility criteria of a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
According to the FCC, nearly 70 Mississippi ISPs are participating in the program, including AT&T, Comcast / Xfinity, and C Spire. A complete list of participating companies is available on the FCC’s website at https://www.fcc.gov/emergency-broadband-benefit-providers.
Those interested in applying can contact a participating vendor directly or register online at GetEmergencyBroadband.org. Mail-in inquiries can also be requested by calling 1-833-511-0311.