What Is the Affordable Connectivity Program?

Catherine McNally
Editorial Lead, Internet & Gaming
Read More
January 03, 2022
7 min read

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) was created by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help low-income families stay connected to the internet. 

The ACP provides a $30 monthly subsidy to cover your internet costs (or a $75 monthly subsidy if you live on Tribal lands). The new program still includes a one-time discount of up to $100 on a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer as well.

Along with a change in subsidy amounts, the new Affordable Connectivity Program includes changes to eligibility requirements. We've sorted through all the details to help you figure out whether you qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program and answer any questions you may have.

Apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program
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Affordable Connectivity Program applications are now open. You can apply online through the National Lifeline Verifier, with your internet provider, or find a mail-in application with instructions on the USAC's Affordable Connectivity Program site.

Apply to the Affordable Connectivity Program

Who’s eligible?

At least one person in your household needs to meet certain requirements in order to qualify for an internet subsidy through the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Affordable Connectivity Program eligibility

You can qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program if at least one person in your household meets these requirements:

  • Participates in the free and reduced-price school lunch or school breakfast program (including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision)

—OR—

  • Received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year

—OR—

  • Is enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

And if you already qualify for the Lifeline federal assistance program, you should be eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program too. One thing to note: Lifeline requires an income of 135% or less than federal poverty guidelines, but the ACP requires the following:

—OR—

  • You or someone in your household (including children and dependents) participate in one of the following federal programs: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly known as Food Stamps), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), or Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit

—OR—

  • You live on Tribal lands and at least one person in your household (including children and dependents) participates in Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Head Start (only if your household meets the income qualifying standard), Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF), or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations

How do you apply for the Lifeline program?

To apply for Lifeline, you can fill out an application online through the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) or mail one in. Once you qualify for Lifeline, your service provider should enroll you in the benefit program.

Additionally, if your internet service provider (ISP) participates in Lifeline, they may have ways for you to apply through them.

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What is Lifeline?

Lifeline is a federal assistance program that gets eligible households up to $9.25 off their monthly phone or internet bill. The Tribal Lifeline program gets eligible households up to $34.25 off their monthly phone or internet bill.

What benefits does the program provide?

The Affordable Connectivity Program provides up to $30 toward an eligible household’s monthly internet bill—or up to $75 for those living on Tribal lands. You can apply your subsidy to any internet plan as long as your internet provider participates in the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Heads Up
Did you enroll in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?

If you're already enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, you'll continue to receive a $50 monthly subsidy for your internet service until March 2022.

In March, expect to see your subsidy drop to $30 a month.

Plus, eligible households can also receive up to $100 toward one laptop, desktop computer, or tablet that’s purchased through their internet provider. But, you must pay at least $10–$50 for the device to receive the discount.

It’s important to note that the $30, $75, or $100 subsidies aren’t paid directly to you. Instead, they go to your internet provider, which should then discount your service or the cost of the device you’re purchasing. That also means that if your internet plan costs less than $30 or $75 a month, you won't be able to pocket the extra money.

Also, each eligible household gets only one monthly discount on their internet service and only one device discount.

How long do the benefits last?

Currently, there's no end date listed for the Affordable Connectivity Program. We expect that as long as it continues to receive funding, the subsidy will still be available.

As for anyone enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, you’ll continue to receive your $50 monthly bill discount until March 2022. After that, you'll receive the $30 monthly ACP subsidy.

The FCC is still hashing out whether program participants will need to re-apply to continue to receive benefits. We expect most folks won't need to reverify eligibility after the EBB Program officially ends. But keep an eye out for messages from the USAC in case you do need to reapply.

How can you apply?

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Affordable Connectivity Program applications are open

You can apply to the Affordable Connectivity Program online through the National Lifeline Verifier or by mail with the printable applications found on the Affordable Connectivity Program site.

Apply to the Affordable Connectivity Program

Applications for the Affordable Connectivity Program are submitted the following ways

Apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program online

If you apply online, be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your date of birth
  • A form of ID: Either your social security number, Tribal ID number, OR a form of government-issued ID, like a driver's license, passport, or taxpayer ID number
  • A photo or scanned image of your ID (if you don't have a scanner, you can take a photo with your phone)

Apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program by mail

Mail applications to the Affordable Connectivity Program should be sent to the following address:

ACP Support Center
P.O. Box 7081
London, KY 40742

You can likely speed up the process by also mailing any required documents with your application. Just be sure to include a cover sheet (PDF) if you do so the processing team can match your documents to your application.

Apply through your internet provider

If your internet provider is participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program, they may have ways for you to apply through them.

The USAC has an easy search tool to find participating ISPs in your area, either by entering your zip code or city and state.

Which internet providers are participating?

There are more than 300 different internet providers participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program.

The approved providers differ by state, and you can check out which providers are participating in your state on the FCC's site or with the USAC's Companies Near Me tool.

Here are some of the bigger service providers participating in the ACP:

Mobile and internet providers participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program

And while it seems like the majority of providers aren't offering connected devices, non-profits human-I-T and PCs for People are offering to help get your hands on connected devices. Both were listed as Emergency Broadband Benefit Program participants, so we expect they'll continue to participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program too.

Now that you know about the Affordable Connectivity Program, check these out next.
Look for low-cost internet plans in your area.

Keep your internet bill under control.

FAQ

Here's what other folks are asking about the Affordable Connectivity Program.

As long as you meet one or more of the eligibility requirements for the Affordable Connectivity Program, you’re still able to receive the benefit even if your account is past due.

On a similar note, your ISP cannot require you to wait for a period of time if you’ve used its service before.

Thanks to the Lifeline program’s definition of “household,” both families can qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program as long as each family contributes to and shares the income and expenses of only their individual household.

Adults with no or minimal income who receive financial support are considered dependents in a household. And children under the age of 18 who are living with their parent or guardian are also considered dependents.

As long your household consents to the landlord seeking Affordable Connectivity Program benefits for your internet service, you can still qualify for the program. Your landlord must show proof of consent to the ISP, so be prepared to provide that if asked.

Yes, you can participate in both the Affordable Connectivity Program and the Lifeline program for the same or different services.

You can choose to not apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program with the last four digits of your social security number and instead can provide the following forms of ID:

  • Government-issued ID, such as a passport or driver’s license
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) documentation

Your ISP can apply the Affordable Connectivity Program benefit to your bundled internet, voice, and texting services, as well as any equipment you need for those services. The benefit can't be applied to TV service, though. So if you bundle your internet with TV, you'll have to pay the TV part of your bill out of your own pocket.

Yes, your ISP can apply the benefit to your rented router, modem, hotspot device, or antenna as long as those rental fees are charged in addition to your internet service.

Yes, even if your child's entire school or school district receives free lunch, your family is still eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Yes, the Affordable Connectivity Program's Tribal discount is available to anyone living on Tribal lands, and you don't need to be a member of a Tribe.

Catherine McNally
Written by
Catherine McNally
Catherine has a degree in journalism and an MBA, and has spent the last 10+ years writing everything from Okinawa travel guides to stories on Medium. She’s been online since AOL CDs were a thing and is an unapologetic PC gamer. She believes the internet is a necessity, not a luxury, and writes reviews and guides to help everyone stay connected. You can also find her on Twitter: @CMReviewsIt.

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