The U.S. government wants to pick up some of the internet tab for millions of households across the country that have taken a financial hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 12, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened up applications for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, which provides discounts to households struggling to afford internet service. The program covers up to $50 towards the cost of internet services, and up to $75 for qualifying households on tribal lands.
Additionally, qualifying households can also receive “a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.”
According to the FCC news release, the following factors determine eligibility. Each qualifying household:
Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
Approved to receive 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;
Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
The FCC also has a “Do I Qualify” page with more details.
One can apply for these benefits through the following ways:
Contact your preferred participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process.
Go to GetEmergencyBroadband.org to apply online and to find participating providers near you.
Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application, and return it along with copies of documents showing proof of eligibility to:
Emergency Broadband Support Center
P.O. Box 7081
London, KY 40742
After receiving an eligibility determination, households can contact their preferred service provider to select an Emergency Broadband Benefit eligible service plan. A list of broadband service providers working with the program is also available here.
It should be noted that the program is temporary and 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."
Given that the FCC released a statement on this and the program is now receiving applications, we rate this claim as “True.”