How To Get Wi-Fi With SNAP Benefits: The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

What if you could seriously reduce your internet bill each month?

As most people have experienced, Wi-Fi and internet access can get very expensive and eat up too much of the monthly budget. The problem is that these days everything depends on the internet, from applying to jobs to checking your child’s school grades. Without reliable internet access, it’s easy to end up cut off from the world, so maintaining service can be a difficult problem for many families.

The good news is that if you already qualify for SNAP, you can get affordable Wi-Fi and lower your monthly bill. If you’re wondering how to get Wi-Fi with SNAP benefits, keep reading to discover the answer!

What Is SNAP?

Our guide will focus on how to get Wi-Fi with SNAP benefits. But first, we need to answer a fundamental question: what, exactly, is SNAP?

SNAP is an acronym for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This is a federal program designed to provide low-income families with the nutritional resources they need.

The most common means of delivery for SNAP benefits is through an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card that works like a debit card. With this card, you can buy covered foods in certain retail stores to help feed you and your family.

When you qualify for SNAP, you are automatically eligible for other assistance programs, including some that can help to reduce your monthly internet bill.

Am I Eligible for SNAP?

If you are already part of the SNAP program, you can skip further down in our guide. For everyone else, though, we need to review SNAP eligibility.

How do you qualify for SNAP? The short answer is that you need to apply and meet certain low-income thresholds for your state. In practical terms, this means not having too much money in the bank.

Of course, how much is “too much” will vary from state to state. To check your own eligibility status, we recommend visiting the official SNAP eligibility page, sending off an application, and confirming your eligibility.

One Way to Check SNAP Eligibility

Sometimes you don’t want to wade through a small mountain of paperwork to get the answers you need. And with any luck, our guide will provide most of the answers you need concerning SNAP benefits and SNAP Wi-Fi.

However, if you want a quicker way to get answers, you may want to contact the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). They are able to answer many of your questions and help you find the information you need to complete your application.

If you’ve already sent off an application, FNS can also connect you to your state’s own SNAP hotline. From there, you can verify the current status of your application.

How Long Will I Receive SNAP Benefits?

Getting SNAP benefits can be a real game-changer for many families. Good nutrition can keep you and your loved ones healthy and happy, while benefits such as cheap wi-fi (which we’re about to dive into) make a big difference when it comes to your monthly budget.

When you look at the prospect of gaining benefits you may come to depend on, it’s natural to wonder: once you qualify for SNAP benefits, how long do you remain eligible?

There is no “one size fits all” amount of time. Instead, each qualified applicant will learn how long they will receive benefits when their application is approved.

Once that period ends, you don’t necessarily stop receiving benefits. Instead, you will need to re-certify your eligibility. This is a process through which the government makes sure that your financial situation has not significantly improved.

So long as your status is similar, you will be able to continue receiving benefits.

How to Get Wi-Fi With SNAP Benefits

If you already qualify for SNAP, there are a couple of different programs that can help you access free or affordable wireless service, including broadband internet. The first and best-known way to receive this benefit is through the Lifeline program.

What is Lifeline? That is the name for a special program created by the FCC 35 years ago. The service originally started with home phone access, but eventually expanded to include wireless service as times changed. Today the Lifeline program provides free service including talk, text, and data to qualifying recipients.

There are many different ways to qualify for Lifeline (more on this later on). The good news is that if you already receive SNAP benefits, you already qualify for the Lifeline program!

Different Ways to Qualify for Lifeline

As we noted before, qualifying for SNAP means that you are automatically qualified for Lifeline. But what if you don’t qualify for SNAP, or someone you know needs additional information about getting the Wi-Fi benefits that come from Lifeline?

Fortunately, there are many different ways to qualify for Lifeline. For example, anyone on Medicaid qualifies. If you receive Federal Public Housing Assistance or benefit from Tribal Programs, you also qualify.

Finally, anyone receiving Supplemental Security Income or a Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit qualifies for Lifeline. If you meet any of these criteria, consider applying for Lifeline with any participating provider.

Why Is Wi-Fi Access So Important?

Some people may be skeptical about receiving special federal benefits to get cheaper internet. To those who grew up in a different time or are used to going without service, internet access may seem like a luxury compared to essential needs such as food and shelter.

Something to think about: we have had federal programs in place for things like food and housing for many years because nobody can live without these things. Over the years, it has become increasingly clear that in the modern world very few people can live without internet access, either.

Finding and applying to most open job positions now requires access to the internet, and the internet is also an essential tool for education, communication, and entertainment.

As the pandemic taught us, the internet is a critical way to stay connected to friends and family when you can’t otherwise reach them. In other words, internet access is not a luxury, and if you don’t have this access, you are functionally cut off from the rest of the world.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

If you qualify for Lifeline, you also qualify for a temporary program created by the FCC in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB) provides discounts on monthly broadband internet access service as well as certain kinds of connected devices.

Just the same as Lifeline, if you qualify for SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, federal public housing assistance, or veteran’s benefits, or if your income is below certain levels, you may also qualify for EBB.

In addition, Pell Grant recipients and students participating in USDA free lunch programs may also qualify for EBB.

The main difference between Lifeline and EBB is that Lifeline is a permanent program, while the EBB is a temporary program. You can qualify for one or both programs with any participating provider

If you qualify for both programs, you can choose from a variety of service providers offering competitive discounts and packages, including some that may offer devices at a steep discount upon approval.

What Comes Next?

Now you have an answer to the question of how to get Wi-Fi with SNAP benefits through the Lifeline and Emergency Broadband Benefit programs. Before you can start enjoying the benefits of free or discounted wireless and broadband service, however, you’ll need to make sure you qualify, then take that first step and apply.