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Eligibility for an ACP Program for Your Internet Connection

 The Affordable Connectivity Program is for people who do not have access to broadband Internet. It helps provide a basic level of Internet service for people from low-income households. 

ACP Program for Your Internet Connection

Customers must have an income below 200% of the poverty line or participate in a federal qualifying program. If you don’t have service with another provider, the ACP program can help you.

What Is ACP or Affordable Connectivity Program?

The FCC is committed to helping low-income Americans access the power of broadband. The goal is to offer a basic level of service for those who can't afford their home Internet connection

Getting online at least once in a while can help people find jobs, keep up with classes, and do essential research.

The internet program aims to help the most vulnerable home Internet users, such as those who live in rural areas and other spots where broadband connectivity is either not available or is prohibitively expensive.

The Federal Communications Commission has subsidized the cost of these connections using Universal Service Fund monies and, toward this end, set monthly speeds and pricing tiers.

● 25 Mbps download speed / 3 Mbps upload speed at $10/mo.

● 3 Mbps download speed / 1 Mbps upload speed at $5/mo.

Customers who live outside of the areas where their carrier offers Internet service can choose a provider that operates where they live or travel.

In addition to price, customers can choose from several other features, such as data limits and privacy protection coverage. The ACP runs on a first-come, first-served basis until funds run out or until December 31st, whichever comes sooner.

Who Can Qualify for ACP?

To qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program, customers must meet all of the following criteria.

● Be a citizen of the United States. Non-citizens are not eligible for the ACP.

● Not be an individual or household currently served by an existing high-speed provider (the only exception here is if you're moving to an area where there is no broadband service);

● Have an income that is no greater than 200% of the poverty line, or participates in a federal assistance program like Medicaid, SNAP, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), National School Lunch Program's Free Lunch Program, or the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

●Participants in tribal-specific programs like Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF), and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) may also be eligible.

● Recipients of the Federal Pell Grant may also be eligible.

Additionally, participants must also agree to use the service at their place of residence or the place where they sleep a majority of the time.

If you already have Internet service but want to switch providers and choose a different plan, the Federal Communications Commission will not subsidize your new plan. 

You must be without home Internet to receive an ACP subsidy. Applicants for the Affordable Connectivity Program must provide last year's tax return or documentation of their income during the certification period to determine eligibility. 

Not everyone will be automatically eligible, but the program can't apply if you don't meet the criteria. You don't have to complete your area's minimum speed requirements, but you must be able to access broadband-based services at the speeds listed above. 

So, you will receive a 25 Mbps speed tier ($10/mo.) service if you live in an area where the minimum speed requirement is less than that.

Another Caveat: Customers can choose a lower speed tier and pay a smaller fee if they like, but the maximum price cannot exceed $30 for any service.

Who Is Not Eligible?

The following types of people or households are ineligible:

● Those who already have Internet service;

● People or households that live within an area where broadband is available from an “unsubsidized provider offering service at speeds equal to or above 3 Mbps" (except for those customers on Tribal lands); and,

● Individuals who choose not to accept/can't use the subsidized service.

How Do You Apply?

Customers may apply by providing the following information:

●Name, residential address, and phone number (unreachable or incomplete addresses will not work).

●Social Security Number (SSN), date of birth, and annual household income.

The application must also include proof of eligibility with a valid electronic signature. Customers must fill out Section A of Form 490 to apply for the ACP.

ACPs are only available in areas where the customer does not currently have access to broadband Internet service and where their carrier is not planning on building out its network.

You will not be eligible for the ACP program if you currently get Internet service through your phone or cable provider. However, if your carrier plans to build out its network in your area, you may be eligible.

Wrapping Up

ACPs are not available to providers that offer broadband service at speeds equal to or above 3 Mbps, except in the case of customers on Tribal lands.

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