For most families, that means a savings of $30/month. And for those living in foreign countries, that discount is as high as $75/month.
This price cut comes as a result of the FCC’s Affordable Communications Program, which was launched earlier this year to try to reduce the country’s digital divide. And even if you don’t directly benefit from the program, you could be doing someone in your life a real favor by letting them know that ACP exists, so take a few minutes with us to learn how it works.
Thankfully, the process boils down to three steps.
1. Find out if you qualify
There are several ways you can qualify for ACP. Your family may fall below a certain income level, for example. A family of four in this continent United States income less than $55,500 a year qualifies for the rebate. If you or someone in your family uses Medicaid, receives a veteran’s pension, or received a Pell Grant to attend college this year, you also get a discount.
To see the full list of eligible candidates, visit the Affordable Communications Program website.
This is also a good time to make sure your internet provider – or one you’d like to use – participates in the program. Most of the big-name Internet service providers participate in the ACP, including Verizon, AT&T, and Xfinity, but smaller, more regional companies may not.
The best way to check is to visit this website created by Universal Service Administrative Company, the organization that manages the program. Unfortunately, we’ve encountered cases where that site doesn’t load any results even if there are participating companies in the area – if that happens to you, try calling the internet provider directly.
2. Fill out the application
If you qualify for ACP – or want to double check that you do – visit the Affordable Connectivity Program website to get started on the application. (Don’t worry: You don’t need to print and mail the form unless you really want to.)
That online form asks for things like your name, address, and a way to verify your identity — think the last four digits of your Social Security Number, or some other form of legal ID. Depending on how you qualify, you may be asked to provide other information as proof of income.
3. Contact your Internet provider
Once your ACP application has been approved by USAC, you are almost home free. Now you have to contact your internet provider to activate that monthly discount. In some cases, you can do that directly on your provider’s website, but a call to the customer service line will do the trick, too.
Another thing to keep in mind: Some of these companies also offer low-cost Internet plans designed to be used at an ACP discount, meaning you or someone you know can get online for free (or close to it).