How to know if you are entitled to discounted Internet access

Lodging. Food. Even animal care. Thanks to one of the worst inflations we’ve seen in decades, it feels like almost everything is more expensive than it should be.

If you or someone you know is struggling financially or if someone in your household is on certain types of government benefits, you could get a discount on your internet bill.

For many families, that means savings of $30/month. And for those living on tribal lands, that discount can be as high as $75/month.

These price reductions are courtesy of the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which launched earlier this year in an attempt to bridge 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 favor by letting them know CPA exists, so take a few minutes with us to learn how it works.

Fortunately, the process comes down to three steps.

1. Find out if you qualify

There are several ways to qualify for the CPA. Your household might fall below a specific income level, for example. A family of four on the mainland US earning less than $55,500 per year is eligible for the rebate. If you or someone in your household is on Medicaid, receiving a veteran’s pension, or received a Pell grant to go to college this year, you also get a discount.

To see the full list of qualifiers, visit the Affordable Connectivity Program website.

This is also a good time to make sure your ISP (or the one you’d like to use) is participating in the program. Most major internet service providers participate in 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 the Universal Service Administrative Corporation, the organization that actually runs the program. Unfortunately, we’ve come across situations where this site doesn’t load any results even when there are participating businesses in a specific area – if this happens to you, try calling the internet service provider directly.

2. Complete an application

If you qualify for CPA — or want to verify that you do — visit the Affordable Connectivity Program website to start working on an app. (Don’t worry: you don’t need to print and send a form unless you really want to.)

This online form asks for information such as your name, address, and a way to verify your identity — think the last four digits of your Social Security number or other form of official identification. Depending on your eligibility, you may be asked to provide other information, such as proof of income.

3. Contact your internet service provider

Once your ACP application is approved by USAC, you are almost home. All you have to do is contact your Internet service provider to activate this monthly discount. In some cases, you can do this directly on your provider’s website, but a phone call to their customer service line will also do the trick.

One last thing to keep in mind: some of these companies also offer low-cost internet packages designed to be used with the ACP discount, meaning you or someone you know may be able to get online. for free (or almost).

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