Everything You Need To Know About ACP

According to Pew Research Center, as of April 2021, only 7% of Americans do not use the Internet. While some of the non-Internet users surveyed prefer to stay off-the-grid, most people need access to an Internet plan for work, school, healthcare, and relationships. 

One major thing the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us is the importance of having a reliable Internet connection at home to keep up with our rapidly-changing world.

Despite our world’s need to stay connected, households across rural, urban, or tribal communities struggle to get a good Internet connection for a good price.

To try and solve the problem of Internet affordability and access, the United States government launched a program called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). By making connectivity more inclusive and accessible at a low, and sometimes even free, price, the ACP is designed to bridge the digital divide. Here’s what you need to know about how the program works, eligibility requirements, where to apply, and how to find low-cost home Internet.

What is the Federal Affordable Connectivity Program?

The ACP was created by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help people afford and access reliable Internet connections no matter where they are. The program began on December 31, 2021 and is the long-term replacement of the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program. ACP expands the eligibility criteria that existed under the EBB and provides a monthly discount of up to $30 towards an Internet plan for qualifying U.S. households and up to $75 per month for homes on qualifying tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet purchased through a participating provider. Only one monthly service discount and one device discount is allowed per household.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for the Affordable Connectivity Program?

  • In order to qualify for the program benefits, your household must meet one or more of the following requirements:
  • Income is 200% or less than the Federal Poverty Guidelines;
  • You or your child or dependent participate in certain government assistance programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit, Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program;
  • You participate in Tribal specific programs: Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Head Start (only households meeting the income qualifying standard), Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations;
  • You received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year; or
  • You or anyone in your household already receives a Lifeline Program benefit.

When applying to the program, you will need to provide proof of program or income eligibility by submitting an official document proving that you participate in one of the qualifying programs OR that you qualify based on your household income.

For more details on ACP discount eligibility, visit the ACP Do I Qualify? page.

How Long is the Affordable Connectivity Program?

The original EBB program was established to help households stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ACP is a permanent extension of the EBB program. Congress mandated the creation of the ACP as part of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which became law in November 2021. The $14 billion ACP program currently does not have an end date listed—as long as it continues to receive funding, the subsidy will still be available to qualifying households.

How to Apply for the ACP

If you meet the eligibility requirements, you can submit an application for the ACP discount by:
  1. Applying through ACP’s website.
  2. Mailing in an application form to ACP.
  3. Asking for application assistance from a participating Internet provider. 
Once you are enrolled in the program, you can contact your preferred, participating provider to select an eligible plan and have the discount applied to your bill.

How Can I Find an Affordable Internet Plan?

The ACP cooperates with a list of participating broadband providers. You can search for providers that offer the monthly bill discount using your zip code or your city and state on the USAC Companies Near Me page.

If you are already receiving an ACP benefit and wish to transfer your benefit to a different participating service provider, follow the instructions on the ACP Manage My Benefit page.

SmartMove Can Help You Find Affordable Home Internet

If you do not qualify for the ACP assistance program but would like to explore ways to save money on home Internet, check out this guide on how to get as much Internet data as you need without overpaying. 

Finding the right Internet plan for your needs can be tricky. SmartMove can help you find affordable Internet service plans in your area.