How eligible families can get free or low-cost Internet service | Jobs Recent

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This is why the program exists

The program was created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was passed by Congress in November. It is designed to permanently replace the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which was tied to the pandemic. About 9 million families signed up under that interim plan and were mostly transferred to the new plan earlier this year.

“The response to the Emergency Broadband Benefit proved what many know to be true: The cost of high-speed Internet is out of reach for many of us,” FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement when the new program was officially launched last year. .

While the interim plan offered a higher monthly benefit to non-state households — up to $50 instead of the current $30 — the new plan is intended to reach a larger number of households with expanded eligibility.

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The Biden administration said in May that 20 Internet service providers — covering more than 80% of the US population — agreed to offer plans for no more than $30 under the new plan, meaning some families would pay nothing for their service after the subsidy ends. request.

In total, more than 1,300 providers participated in the program. Under the $10 billion fund created by the 2021 American Rescue Plan, states receive money to strengthen their broadband infrastructure — a plan that requires them to participate in a new program once the projects are completed.

There are different ways to get funding

Another way to qualify is to have a gross income of no more than 200% of the federal poverty level, which depends on family size. For example, in a family of two, the income would be $36,620; for a family of four, $55,500. Alaska and Hawaii have higher limits for all house sizes.

Gross income includes all sources of income except those expressly excluded by the IRS, such as death benefits from life insurance contracts, according to information provided by the FCC to CNBC.

Besides income-based eligibility, there are other eligibility criteria. For example, if you or a member of your family received a Federal Pell Grant this school year, you can participate. Or, you may be able to qualify through a participating provider’s existing minimum wage program.

Other eligibility criteria include receiving benefits from public programs such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, free or reduced-price school meal programs, and others. The FCC provides a full list of eligibility criteria on its website. Some buyers may be able to be automatically verified as eligible, while others will need to provide documentation for review.

Plans through the Accessible Connection Program offer minimum download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second, allowing multiple users to simultaneously access the Internet for teleworking, remote reading or health monitoring, according to the Biden administration.

If you encounter any problems when trying to apply for the program, you can call or email the support center.

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