In the modern world, access to the internet is not only necessary, but crucial for Americans to be able to do their jobs, go to school, access health care, and stay connected with family and friends.
But the cost of that internet can often be out of reach for North Carolina families. Over the past two years, however, millions of Americans have gotten a discount on their internet bills, thanks to the passage of President Biden’s Infrastructure Law in 2021.
Since the passage of the law, over 20 million households have signed up for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which was funded by the law. It cuts internet bills by up to $30 per month, or $75 for households on tribal lands or in certain rural areas. It also provides a one-time $100 discount off a connected device.
The administration worked with internet providers to offer high-speed internet plans that are fully covered by the ACP, meaning most eligible households in North Carolina are able to get high-speed internet for free.
So far, about 863,000 households in North Carolina have enrolled in the program, with more signing up every day, according to the White House.
Elected officials at both the state and federal level are currently urging Congress to extend funding for the ACP through Dec. 2024, as the program is expected to run out of funding by April 2024. In August, 45 bipartisan members of Congress called for an extension of the program, as well.
“We have a unique window of opportunity to ensure that every family and child — rural, urban, and suburban — have access to affordable broadband, and can thrive in the digital age. ACP has become a lifeline for Americans, and we cannot afford to let it expire,” the lawmakers stated in their letter. “Failure to extend funding would not only leave millions of families without access to the internet but also hinder our long-term competitiveness as a nation.”
Eligibility and How To Sign Up
There are a few ways a household can qualify for the ACP.
First, your household’s income must be at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines—that’s about $55,000 per year for a family of four, or $27,000 for an individual.
A household is also eligible if it’s currently enrolled in a government assistance program, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Medicaid, if it meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income internet program, or if one member has received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year.
In order to verify eligibility, sign up, and find fully covered plans, you can visit GetInternet.gov. You can also visit GetACP.org/esh. You can send in an application by mail, or online after verifying that your household is eligible for the program; applications are available in English or Spanish.
If and when your application is approved, you should then contact one of the 1,300 participating internet service providers to choose a plan and apply your benefit to that plan. Click here to find a provider near you.
For more information on how to apply, click here. You can also call (877)-384-2575.
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