Can I Get Free Internet With Food Stamps?
The information in this article is current as of February 28, 2022.
If you participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), you may be asking yourself, “Can I get free internet with food stamps?” SNAP recipients are eligible for free or subsidized internet through various federal and state programs. This article will help break down what kind of internet assistance is available across the U.S., who is eligible, and how you can apply.
SNAP Program Eligibility
SNAP provides nutritional assistance to needy families or individuals to help them afford healthy food. Each state has eligibility requirements for SNAP, with most granting benefits to families who make less than a set annual income.
SNAP benefits are distributed on an Electronic Benefits Card, which works like a debit card through an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT). This card is used to purchase specific foods and goods.
SNAP is a government assistance program. Those who participate in SNAP may be eligible for additional assistance in other areas, such as the internet programs outlined below.
Affordable Connectivity Program
The Federal Communications Commission has initiated the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in the U.S. This program provides a discount of up to $30 per month on broadband for SNAP households.
Who Is Eligible for the ACP?
The Affordable Connectivity Program is offered to those who:
- Have a household income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
- Participate in SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), SSI, WIC, or Lifeline
- Participate in the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program
- Have received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
- Meet the criteria for a participating provider’s existing internet offer for low-income individuals
- Qualify and live on Tribal lands – these participants can receive up to $75 per month
What the ACP Offers
After applying and being approved for the program, the ACP pays your broadband provider directly every month.
The ACP can also provide $100 towards a new laptop, desktop, or tablet for participating families. If you’re approved for the ACP, you’ll need to give a minimum co-payment between $10.01 and less than $50 to receive the discount.
Federal Lifeline Support Program
Lifeline is a federal program that provides economic assistance to low-income families for phone and internet service. For the last 35 years, the FCC has made it possible for low-income consumers to receive access to free or heavily discounted communication services.
The service originally started with home phone access, but as they saw the needs change over time, they expanded the program to provide wireless phones. Federal law requires telecommunication companies to contribute to the Universal Service Fund which in turn pays for the cell phone program, administered by USAC.
Who Is Eligible?
You are eligible for the Lifeline program if you:
- Have an annual income that is 135% or less than the Federal Poverty Guidelines
- Participate in SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, FPHA, or collect Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefits
- Have a child that participates in any of the programs listed previously
Tribal Assistance programs have other eligibility requirements that can be found here.
What the Lifeline Support Program Offers
Only certain internet companies qualify for Lifeline subsidization. In addition, you must use your internet service at least once every 30 days to maintain your benefit, and you must recertify for Lifeline every year.
Free/Subsidized Internet Providers for SNAP Participants
Once accepted into the ACP or the Lifeline program, SNAP participants may be eligible for free or subsidized internet through various service providers outlined below.
AT&T offers internet service for $30/month or less for the ACP program. This service includes free installation and in-home Wi-Fi, no annual contract, and no deposit.
If your area restricts broadband to less than 100 Mbps, your internet service may cost less. However, participants will not receive extra money through the ACP program.
Once you’ve been accepted to the ACP, you can call AT&T at 877-366-0497 to discuss your options and set up your service. Remember to have your National Verifier ID on hand.
Spectrum is best for those looking to bundle their internet services with TV, a landline, or mobile phone service. In addition, they work with the Lifeline program to provide subsidized internet access to low-income families.
This program provides:
- A free internet modem
- High-speed internet at 30 Mbps
- No contracts
- No data caps
- And optional in-home Wi-Fi service
Comcast Xfinity’s partnership with the ACP is called Internet Essentials Plus. It provides internet speeds up to 100 Mbps with better streaming and hot spot connectivity. Those wanting to combine their internet with an unlimited 5G mobile plan can also find this bundle for $24.95. The ACP credit will pay the internet portion first, with any remaining credit applied to the mobile phone plan.
Internet First offers speeds up to 50 Mbps for only $9.95 per month for qualifying customers in California, D.C., Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, and Washington. This no contract, no credit check, no installation fee offer even gives you your first 60 days of service free of charge.
To apply for Internet First, you must:
- Live in a serviceable area and
- Participate in SNAP, the National School Lunch Program, federal public housing or housing assistance, Medicaid, SSI, or another government assistance program
Internet Assistance for Families with Children
For families with children under SNAP or those participating in the National School Lunch Program, other programs are also available to subsidize the cost of your internet.
Mediacom works with the ACP to provide low-cost or free internet for those with one student in K-12 living in the home. This student should qualify for the reduced- or free-lunch program.
There are no deposits, contracts, installation fees, or equipment rental fees with Mediacom. The modem is leased to you for use for free for the duration of Mediacom’s service.
The $9.95 plan provides up to 25 Mbps of internet monthly, while their $30 per month program gives up to 50 Mbps. You must be a new Mediacom customer to use this reduced-price service.
Cox offers internet for students and their parents. Costing only $9.95 per month, you’ll receive up to 50 Mbps of internet, a free modem that can be self-installed, and a connection for up to five devices at once.
Families must have students in K-12 living in the home where the service is contracted. They must also be on some sort of government assistance, such as the National School Lunch Program, housing assistance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or the SNAP program.
How Can SNAP Participants Get Free Internet?
For those asking, “Can I get free internet with food stamps?” the answer is yes. The federal Affordable Connectivity Program and Lifeline Support Program offer discounts from $9.25 to $30 per month on the internet bill of eligible individuals and families.
If you receive SNAP benefits, you can apply to either program using the links above. Once approved, you can contact an internet service from one of the participating providers.
What Is the Affordable Connectivity Program?
The Affordable Connectivity Program is a federal program to help provide internet service to low-income families. The program offers a discount of up to $30 per month on internet service contracted for one device.
Can I Receive Both ACP and Lifeline Benefits at the Same Time?
Yes, you can receive both benefits at the same time. If you receive Lifeline, you are eligible to apply for ACP. If a provider has a low-income program for COVID-19 relief, you may qualify but would have to reverify for ACP. If the other provider is not claiming your participation for EBB, ACP, or Lifeline, you can receive the benefit concurrently.
What Internet Providers Work with the ACP and Lifeline?
Internet service providers vary by state. You can search for providers in your area on each program’s official website. In addition, Lifeline lists its providers here, and ACP works with these providers.
Some big companies you may see include AT&T, Spectrum, and Comcast Xfinity.
How Do I Know If I’m Eligible for the ACP or Lifeline?
SNAP participants are eligible for both programs. The ACP also accepts applications from families living at or below 200% of the poverty line and those in other federal assistance programs. Lifeline requires applicants to be at 135% or less of the federal poverty line or participate in a federal assistance program.
How Are ACP and Lifeline Benefits Received?
Both benefits are credited directly to the service supplier. Surplus credits are not returned as cash to the participating family.
How Much Does Internet Cost?
The average cost of internet in the U.S. is $68.38 per month. Still, there are much cheaper options available for low-income families across America. Using the resources above, you can find internet options as low as $9.95 per month.
Free or Affordable Internet: You Have Choices
Some free internet options may not be the highest quality plans. However, they’re a good resource for low-income families who need internet access for basic tasks. The internet is essential for so many things. It’s also helpful for those who need to file for unemployment or additional government aid.
If looking for faster internet speeds, one of the programs mentioned above may be the perfect choice for your family. A small monthly fee can offer you unlimited data, allowing you to work from home or complete an extended school project.
StandUp Wireless works directly with low-income families to provide all the necessary resources required to start improving your living situation.
We’re here to help! See if you qualify for Lifeline today from our easy-to-access portal with everything you need to know about getting linked up for success. Lifeline Program | StandUp Wireless
Get a Tablet for $10.01
Now for a limited time, get an 8″ tablet for just $10.01 when you qualify and sign up for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Once you’re approved for the program, you’ll receive a separate email to unlock your one-time discount on a brand-new tablet.
Click here to get started!