Free Internet For Low-Income Families
Information in this article is accurate as of 3/8/2021.
Due to the constantly changing situation brought upon the world from the COVID-19 pandemic, government-backed agencies and private corporations have made low-cost or free internet plans common practice.
For most of these internet plans, if you qualify for various government aid, you may already qualify for free or reduced internet costs. Many of these programs have been put in place to ensure equal opportunity for students and low-income families during the pandemic. With most school systems operating remotely, access to the internet is more important than ever.
We are going to break down a few of the programs readily available to assist low-income families with affordable internet plans, along with the application process and qualifications. While completely free internet plans will not be the most desirable in terms of speed and capabilities, they will still perform basic functions that get you connected to the world.
The Lifeline Program
Offered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Lifeline federal program helps provide access to free or heavily discounted communication services for Americans who may not be able to otherwise cover the cost associated with these services. Telecommunications providers are required by federal law to contribute to the national fund that pays for and administers the Lifeline program. Lifeline offers a discount on various wired and wireless programs, although it is important to note Lifeline is limited to one service discount per household.
Lifeline subscribers in all fifty states can receive phone and internet services at discounted rates or for free. When qualifying individuals enroll in Lifeline with a participating provider, they will typically receive data, text, and minutes. They may also receive additional offers such as a free or discounted phone or tablet from some providers.
For more information on Lifeline: Lifeline Program for Low-Income Consumers | Federal Communications Commission (fcc.gov)
Verizon Internet + Lifeline Program
Verizon has teamed up with Lifeline to provide an additional discount for users already enrolled in this program for faster speeds to enhance your internet capabilities. Verizon offers a $20 credit to use towards their Fios internet plans, which can be combined with the $9.25 credit from Lifeline. This allows low-income families to have fast internet speeds compared to broadband for as little as $20 a month.
For those that want an entirely free internet program, NetZero is a great option! Although NetZero does offer paid services much like any other internet provider, low-income users can opt for the free dial-up connection. Dial-up internet is the most basic plan with slow download and streaming speeds while still getting the job done.
However, it is important to note that time spent using this internet service is limited to 10 hours a month, which can prove to be quite difficult given the slow speeds. NetZero is a perfect option for low-income families who require internet access for basic activities without needing to rely too heavily on the frequency in which it can be used.
Ever since the worldwide pandemic started affecting all Americans’ daily lives, Altice USA has strived to provide those in need with fast, reliable internet with low costs. All new Optimum and Suddenlink customers will receive free internet capabilities for the first 60 days of their service while only paying $14.95 after the initial period of free service has run out.
Altice USA offers this program to all students, teachers, and staff members who find themselves working or learning remotely during these trying times. K-12 students and students enrolled in college are eligible for free internet, along with students of any age who do not have access to the internet at home. Altice USA provides a free smart router, modem, and heavily reduced installation charges along with reduced rates.
Low-income seniors and veterans are also eligible for the Altice Advantage internet program while receiving the same benefits mentioned above.
AT&T Access Program
AT&T has implemented a new internet access program for low-income families who already receive additional government aid. The Access Program has recently expanded its range of eligibility requirements to aid in the ever-changing landscape that is the world today. If you already qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in the state of California, you already pre-qualify for the Access Program.
Low-income families participating in the National School Lunch Program or the Head Start Program now qualify for the AT&Ts Access Program, opening up a wider range of eligibility for reduced internet prices. Although the Access Program is not entirely free, AT&T supplies a free modem along with free installation. Most qualified low-income families will only have to spend between $5-$10 a month for high-speed internet.
Eligibility for low-income families looking to take advantage of the Access Program, if not enrolled in the additional government-backed programs mentioned above, is based on the entire household’s maximum total income. For example, a family of 4 can earn a maximum of $35,370 among the entire household while still being eligible for reduced internet costs.
Free or Affordable: It’s Your Choice
While the free internet options may not be the highest quality plans out there, they are a great resource for low-income families who need internet access for basic tasks such as filing for unemployment or additional government aid.
When you want faster internet speeds with more overall capabilities, one of the programs mentioned above may be the perfect choice for your family. Only requiring a small fee per month with unlimited data can allow you to work from home or give you peace of mind when working on a long school project.
StandUp Wireless works directly with low-income families to provide all the necessary resources required to start improving your living situation; despite what the world has to throw at you, we are 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