By DR. SELENA SEABROOKS
The Dallas Examiner
Recent years have shown the importance of having a reliable internet connection. It’s proven essential for working from home, completing schoolwork remotely, and unlimited entertainment. Although high-speed internet is no longer considered a luxury, many families go without it due to its cost.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have been committed to assisting families and individuals who cannot afford internet services.
During Biden’s 2021 joint address to Congress, he asked Harris to lead the administration’s efforts to increase access to high-speed internet and ensure it was included in what later became the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Following the address, Harris traveled the country to meet with Americans, experts, lawmakers, and others to make the case for closing the digital divide.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was successfully passed and was signed into law in 2021. The law included the Affordable Connectivity Program, which provided $65 million to help ensure that every American had access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet.
In May, Biden and Harris announced private sector commitments to lower internet costs for millions of American families by offering coverage plans. To accomplish this, the administration launched GetInternet.gov to help families sign up for the ACP benefit and find participating providers.
The initiative offers a discount of up to $30/month for internet service for eligible households and up to $75/month for households on qualifying tribal lands. Each household can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
It is estimated that 48 million U.S. households, nearly 40% of families and individuals, qualify for the program. To qualify, household income must be at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or have a household member that meets at least one of the criteria below:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – known as SNAP
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – known as WIC
- Supplemental Security Income
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, including at U.S. Department of Agriculture Community Eligibility Provision schools
- Federal Pell Grant – received in the current award year
- Specific tribal assistance programs, including Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Head Start – only households meeting the income qualifying standard, Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – known as Tribal TANF, and Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
More than 1300 internet service providers participate in the program, and nearly 13 million households have signed up to receive the ACP benefit. To check eligibility and sign up for benefits, visit https://www.getinternet.gov or call 877-384-2575.