There are federal funds available now for just about every necessity imaginable and one program in particular that Guilford County government wants to make sure residents know about will help people and families pay for internet access.
The new initiative – the Emergency Broadband Benefits Program – provides discounts on internet services for eligible households.
The temporary program is made possible by over $3 billion in Federal Communications Commission funds. It will be in effect through “the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic”– though it’s anyone’s guess when the pandemic will officially be declared over.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program provides a discount of up to $50 per month for broadband service and up to $75 per month for those living on qualifying Tribal lands. The program also provides up to a $100 per eligible household for a one-time purchase of a computer, laptop or tablet under certain circumstances.
A household is eligible for the program if one member of the household meets at least one of the following criteria:
- Has an income that’s at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid or the FCC’s Lifeline program. (For a family of four to meet federal poverty guidelines the income must be under $26,500 a year – and 135 percent of that comes to $35,775.)
- 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 decrease of income through job loss or furlough since February 29 of 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers or $198,000 for joint filers.
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating internet provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
Those seeking relief can enroll either through a participating broadband provider or through the Universal Service Administrative Company using an online or mail-in application. Additional information about the program is available at https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit, or by calling 833- 511-0311 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. on any day.