How Do I Sign up for the Affordable Connectivity Program?
The information in this article is current as of February 25, 2022.
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a Federal Communications Commission program committed to helping low-income families access broadband internet and internet-connected devices.
The ACP program is available nationwide to anyone who meets the criteria determined by the FCC. Keep reading to discover how to determine your eligibility, how to apply, and how to sign up for the program so that you can get your internet up and running quickly at an affordable cost.
Who Is Eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program?
The ACP aims to make broadband internet and internet-connected devices available to as many households that need it as possible.
For eligibility, your household must meet specific requirements in at least one of these areas to qualify for the ACP:
- Household income
- Active participation in another government assistance program
- Meets criteria for internet provider low-income program
Based on Household Income
To meet the income requirement for participation in the ACP, the total income for your household must be at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines based on your household size. Be prepared to provide proof of your income, including pay stubs, tax returns, or other documentation as part of your application process.
Based on Participation in Other Government Assistance Programs
If you or any other members of your household, including dependents, are currently a recipient of any government assistance programs, you will qualify for ACP.
Government assistance programs that qualify you for ACP:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Free and Reduced School Lunch or Breakfast Programs
- Tribal assistance programs if residing on qualifying tribal lands
- Federal Pell Grant recipient within the last year
Based on Eligibility for a Local Internet Service Provider’s Low-Income Program
When you meet the criteria for a low-income program with your local internet service provider, you may be eligible for ACP in addition to that program. 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 Is the Difference Between the Affordable Connectivity Program and the Emergency Broadband Benefit?
The Affordable Connectivity Program replaced the Emergency Broadband Benefit on December 31, 2021.
Participants in the existing EBB program would receive benefits as usual until March 1, 2022. On March 1, 2022, participants then transition to ACP.
EBB subscribers who qualified for the EBB through eligibility criteria that do not apply to the ACP will be required by USAC to demonstrate their eligibility in the National Verifier to receive an ACP benefit using the ACP criteria before the end of the transition period. EBB subscribers will receive additional information if they are required to take additional steps to transition to the ACP benefit on March 1, 2022.
Still, you can check program requirements and changes on the FCC website. How the switch to ACP affects your household:
- The monthly benefit maximum will decrease from $50 to $30 for all participants not living on tribal lands. The tribal benefit will not change.
- Other ways to qualify for ACP include WIC participation and an income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
- If you qualified for EBB due to COVID-19 assistance programs, you would need to requalify under the new ACP guidelines to continue receiving the benefit after 3/1/22
What Is Covered by the Affordable Connectivity Program?
The goal of the ACP is to provide internet and internet-connected devices to qualifying low-income families. The program aims to remove the income barrier that prevents many families from having reliable, consistent internet in their homes for work, school, and personal use.
Each household participating in ACP qualifies for one ongoing monthly service discount and one device discount regardless of how many members are in the home.
ACP provides the following for participating households:
Internet Service Provider Discount
When you are enrolled in ACP, you will receive up to a $30 monthly discount on your internet service provider bill. If you reside on qualifying tribal lands, the discount can be up to $75 per month.
Once fully enrolled in ACP, the discount will be directly reflected on your monthly service bill.
Internet-Connected Device Discount
Purchases must be made from a participating provider. In addition, you must contribute between $10-$50 of your own money for the purchase to qualify.
How Do I Enroll in the Affordable Connectivity Program?
It is simple to apply and enroll in ACP to receive your internet benefits.
Follow these easy steps to submit your application:
1. First, check your household’s eligibility – The ACP benefit website has a great tool to help you determine whether you meet any or all the eligibility requirements to participate.
2. Submit an ACP application – There are two different ways to apply for ACP once you have determined that you are eligible for this benefit.
- ACP Benefit Website – You can easily apply online or by mail following the instructions on the ACP benefit site. Applications submitted directly through ACP are usually accepted immediately.
- Directly with your ISP – Your current internet service provider — if participating — may allow you to apply for ACP directly through their website.
- Contact your internet provider – Once you have submitted your application for ACP, contact the participating internet provider of your choice to choose a plan that works for your family and have the discount applied to your monthly bill. Some ISPs may require a separate application process of their own to finalize participation in ACP.
What Documentation Do I Need to Provide to Qualify for ACP?
Some of the things you may be asked to provide are proof of income, including pay stubs and tax returns for everyone in your household who is currently working. You may not need to provide any additional documentation to ACP other than that. Depending on which criteria you are using to apply to the program, your initial application may be sufficient.
During the application process, you may get immediate approval of your application. If not, you may be asked to submit additional documentation to determine eligibility.
You may also be asked to submit documents proving participation in other government programs or programs with your internet provider that determined your eligibility for ACP.
How Do I Find an Internet Service Provider That Participates in ACP?
The list of internet service providers who participate in ACP is constantly changing. The ACP benefit website keeps a list of participating providers organized by state to make it easy to find providers near you.
If you currently have internet, check with your provider to ensure they work with ACP and honor the program. If not, you may need to cancel your existing service and sign up with a qualified provider.
If signing up for internet service for the first time with your ACP benefit, make sure to select a provider in your area that participates with ACP so that you won’t experience any billing issues.
Does ACP Pay Me the Benefit Each Month?
No, you will not receive payments directly. Instead, payments are coordinated through your internet service provider once approved for the program.
Your monthly ACP benefit will be reflected as a discount on your monthly internet service bill. Your discount will show up as a line item discount of $30 (or $75 if you live on tribal land) off your total monthly bill.
It’s essential to check your service bill once you first enroll and on an ongoing basis to make sure you see the discount reflected appropriately. If you have any questions or don’t see your discount applied, contact your ISP or the FCC to find out if there is a problem with your eligibility.
Hopefully, this article helps answer all your questions about signing up for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) benefit.
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*Lifeline is a government assistance program that provides discounts on your monthly phone or broadband service. The service is non-transferable. Only eligible consumers may enroll in the program; the National Verifier will determine eligibility. The Lifeline program is limited to one monthly service discount per household. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is an FCC benefit program that provides discounts on monthly broadband Internet access services and specific connected devices to eligible households. The National Verifier will determine eligibility. An ACP eligible household is limited to one monthly service discount and a single one-time device discount. The benefits cannot be transferred to other individuals. Discounted devices are subject to availability, and a minimum $10.01 co-pay applies (plus tax and shipping charges)—click here for more details. If the FCC announces the end of the ACP, we end our ACP service offers, or if your household is no longer eligible, we will notify you. You will revert to receiving only the standard FREE Lifeline plan if you are eligible, or you may choose from our other service plans available at that time by paying the applicable undiscounted rate plus applicable fees and taxes. Eligible consumers may get ACP service from any participating provider. Your ACP benefits may be transferred to another provider at any time. Lifeline subscribers may continue their existing Lifeline services without enrolling in the ACP and may choose to take ACP benefits from a service provider other than their existing Lifeline provider. For more information about the ACP and your eligibility, visit www.standupwireless.com/acp or call us at 1-800-544-4441. ACP service is subject to our complete terms and conditions, including the Acceptable Use Policy—click here for details. Your particular service plan will determine available speeds. Available speeds also depend on other factors, including network availability—for full details, click here. Offers may vary by state, and service may not be available in all areas. Promotional offers may be modified or withdrawn at any time.
Ally is responsible for researching, copywriting, and editing content at StandUp Wireless. She has extensive experience contributing to advertising and marketing campaigns for Tech Data, Bright House Networks, TV, telecom, internet, home security, cybersecurity, and retail. As a freelance author, Ally has penned six celebrity biographies for young readers.