Emergency Broadband Benefit program to help those struggling to afford internet

Brenda Schmitt
Iowa State University Extension
The Federal Communications Commission recently launched the Emergency Broadband Benefit program to help families and households struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

AMES, Iowa – On May 12, the Federal Communications Commission launched the Emergency Broadband Benefit program to help families and households struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is good news for those depending on the internet for their jobs, critical healthcare services, virtual classrooms and so much more, says Brenda Schmitt, a human sciences specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

According to the FCC, the temporary program will provide $50 per month per eligible household or $75 per month per eligible household within tribal lands. Many internet providers are participating in this benefit.

The FCC says the program also will provide a one-time discount of up to $100 on a computer or tablet for eligible households. Some national providers are participating in this discount.

“Individuals and families who have income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines are eligible to participate,” said Schmitt, who specializes in family finance.

“This would include families currently participating in SNAP, Medicaid or Lifeline, or who are 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,” Schmitt said.

Other individuals and households also are eligible, including:

  • Individuals who received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
  • Individuals who experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since Feb. 29, 2020, and whose household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers
  • Individuals who meet the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low-income or COVID-19 program

“The program 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 emergency, whichever comes first,” Schmitt said.

For more information about how to apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, visit the FCC website, https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit.