Illustration for article titled Do You Qualify For a $50 Monthly Broadband Subsidy?

Photo: Vadym Pastukh (Shutterstock)

Millions of Americans without broadband internet can now qualify for a $50-per-month subsidy to help pay their bills. As part of the stimulus relief bill that passed last December, the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program offers the discount to low-income households or to those that lost substantial earnings during the pandemic. Here’s what you need to know.

How the program works

The program targets “data poor” households that have either unreliable internet or none at all. As the pandemic has made clear, more reliable connections can ensure better job opportunities, access to digital healthcare services, and better access to education for kids.

If you’re eligible, starting May 12, you can receive $50 per month towards broadband service (up to $75 per month on qualifying Tribal lands), as well as 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.

Who qualifies?

The benefit is available to households that fit one of the following criteria:

  • Are below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines. Note that you might need to be able to show proof of your total income, like a tax return or employment letter.
  • Already participate in a pandemic relief program offered by a broadband provider.
  • Already participate in the following government assistance programs: SNAP, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Veterans & Survivors Pension Benefit, and the FCC’s Lifeline program.
  • Have children that receive benefits under a free or reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program.
  • Have lost jobs and seen their income “substantially” reduced in the last year (to qualify, incomes can’t be higher than $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers), although the FCC is not clear what “substantial” means, exactly. To qualify, you’ll have to prove the loss of income, ideally through a termination letter or furlough notice.

Visit Do I Qualify for a full list of qualifications. Applications will become available when the program opens on May 12, 2021—to enroll, click here.