Find Out About Free and Cheap Internet for Low-Income Families

In a digital world, free and cheap internet plans need to be available to low-earning households so they can stay connected. Today, the internet is often the only way people communicate with one another and complete daily tasks, such as grocery shopping or paying bills. For these reasons, it is important that even families with limited financial resources have access to discounted or even free internet resources at home. Low-income families should not be excluded from life’s conveniences, and different programs throughout the nation work to ensure these households have access to the internet.

Low income internet resources are available to families based on various criteria, and specific organizations are in charge of establishing these requirements. As a result, candidates need to be sure to check with individual program providers to determine if they could receive cheap internet service and family discounts. The sections below explain some of these program opportunities and provides a summary of some of the qualifications that candidates need to meet to join these programs.

Who qualifies for free or cheap internet?

Throughout the nation, cheap internet plans are available to families that need help financing digital connections in their households. Generally, claimants’ eligibility is determined by how much income their families earn. This is due to the fact that these discounts are only available to applicants who are classified as low-earning. For large-scale programs, including the program operated by the government, candidates should be able to receive cheap or free internet for low income families if their earnings are less than 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

Alternatively, claimants who are not sure if they could qualify for discount internet plans by meeting the federal poverty level (FPL) requirement may still qualify if they receive public benefits. Candidates need to prove their financial need to enroll in specific government assistance and compensation programs. Therefore, applicants who are searching for low income internet opportunities may be able to use their participation in these programs to qualify them for internet discounts. Specifically, petitioners who receive benefits through the following initiatives may qualify to receive cheap home internet or free service:

  • Food assistance: Claimants who are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) may qualify for service discounts.
  • Government health insurance: If petitioners receive Medicaid benefits, they may also qualify for reduced-cost or free internet at home.
  • Housing support: Candidates who collect Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) could be eligible to receive discounted plans.
  • Additional financial benefits: When applicants are already enrolled in Supplemental Security Income (SSI), tribal programs or if they receive veterans’ benefits, they could qualify for cheap internet

Regardless of how claimants qualify for cheap or free home internet service for low income families, they need to be sure that they can provide proof of their eligibility to program officials. If candidates cannot prove how they qualify for benefits, they will be unable to receive these reduced rates for their internet service at home.

What cheap internet services does the government offer?

Petitioners who are struggling financially may be eligible to receive cheap internet services through the federal government. Specifically, these opportunities exist through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) administers this program. Officially, this program is called Lifeline, and the discounted internet benefit of this initiative is only one portion of what Lifeline could cover. Through Lifeline, petitioners may also be eligible to receive discounted mobile phones and cell phone plans. However, claimants should keep in mind that they can only receive one type of benefit through this program per household. Therefore, if a qualifying family wants cheap high speed internet and phone services, it can only choose one benefit.

Are there any independent cheap internet providers?

Once claimants enroll in Lifeline, they can receive low-cost or free internet through various private providers. Additionally, various companies that operate nationally offer their own discount programs to low-income individuals who are not enrolled in Lifeline. This is especially helpful for families who could also use their Lifeline support to fund their cell phone bills.  As a result, there are various cheap internet providers that claimants can contact to find programs that financially make sense for their families.

Learn About Comcast Internet Essentials

Comcast low income internet benefits are available to households through the company’s Internet Essentials package. Through this program, enrollees can receive discounted home internet for low monthly rates. Furthermore, enrollees can also have access to Wi-Fi without being required to pay installation fees or sign up for long-term contracts. This helps to ensure that families are not locked into financial obligations, should their incomes and resources change. In addition to providing discount internet for low income families, qualified enrollees may also be eligible to receive computers at low prices through this program.

In order to take advantage of this cheap internet package, candidates must apply directly to the Internet Essentials program. Claimants can complete this step online, and they must be sure to provide specific information about their financial situations and other related personal information. After applying, program officials review the applicants’ requests to determine if they could be good fits for the program. If Comcast accepts these candidates, they will receive the necessary internet equipment within seven to 10 business days.

Learn About AT&T Access Program

ATT low income internet opportunities are available to certain families through the company’s Access program. In order for applicants to receive benefits through this initiative, they must have at least one individual in their household who receives SNAP funding. Additionally, claimants need to live in one of the states that offers this cheap home internet service. There are 21 states in total that allow candidates to enroll in these packages, and claimants must confirm if their states participate before they apply for benefits.

Additionally, candidates who wish to receive this AT&T discount internet for low income families need to be sure that they live in housing facilities that can support the program’s internet speeds. The three available speeds are three, five and 10 megabits per second (Mbps). Once claimants determine if they could qualify for funding, they may apply online to see if they are eligible to receive internet at reduced costs.

Learn About Cox Connect2Compete

Through the Connect2Compete cheap internet program, Cox offers in-home internet and Wi-Fi capabilities to families. Specifically, these benefits are available to low-income families that have school-aged children who need access to the internet so they can study and complete assignments. Therefore, an eligible family must have at least one child in its home who is enrolled in a school, between kindergarten and 12th grade. Additionally, petitioners who want to receive this low income internet benefit need to have one or more household members that receive:

  • SNAP.
  • National School Lunch Program (NSLP) benefits.
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
  • FPHA.