Students need access to the internet to learn and carry out school activities. However, nearly three million students in the United States have no access to the internet at home. Thus, many students cannot further their education away from school.
The government and ISPs have initiated several initiatives to provide students with an internet connection. This article discusses how to get free internet for students from the government.
The following are some of the government initiatives meant to provide free internet to students in their homes:
Lifeline Program for Students
Due to the challenges experienced by students during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) initiated the Keep Americans Connected or Lifeline program. It required ISPs to provide internet services to qualifying families by waiving fees and availing public Wi-Fi hotspots.
The FCC provides a subsidy that makes it possible for ISPs to reduce charges for internet services to low-income families. Here are some of the ISPs delivering free or subsidized internet to students and families through the Lifeline program:
1) Comcast Xfinity Low-Cost Internet for Students
Comcast Xfinity provides low-cost internet through the Internet Essentials Program, costing $9.95 for qualifying families. With the Internet Essentials program, low-income families get subsidized high-speed internet. Students can connect their devices to the internet, carry out research, and complete assignments.
According to Comcast, families that qualify for the Internet Essentials program get:
- 50/10 Mbps high-speed internet services
- Zero activation fees
- $149 computer purchase option
- Free internet in-person or online training
- Cost-free Wi-Fi gateway
- Access to free internet via Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots
Households needed to meet the provisions of a particular criterion to qualify for the Internet Essentials program. For example, they should be participating or eligible in the Housing Assistance, National School Lunch Program (NSLP), SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, and other public assistance programs.
They also need to live within areas covered by Comcast internet, haven’t subscribed for Xfinity internet for the past 90 days, and have no outstanding debt with Comcast. The application was through the link apply.internetessentials.com where they would apply. They would get approval within a few days and start surfing the internet.
2) HBC No-Cost Internet For Students
During the Covid-19 period, HBC suspended disconnections to customers who failed to pay for their internet due to loss of income and waived late payment fees. Once the original FCC subsidy expired, HBC found it fit to extend the offer to its customers.
Besides, HBC has several programs targeting low-income families, including free internet for the first two months. Therefore, students in low-income families can get free internet through these programs by HBC.
Its Temporary Free Internet Assistance Program targets new and existing HBCs’ residential internet customers. Qualifying households should have students participating in the NSLP program and also be on the Telephone Assistance Program (TAP). While HBC waives late fees, it maintains other fees, surcharges, and taxes.
3) Altice Suddenlink and Altice Optimum Internet
Students can also enjoy free internet from the government when their families enroll in the Altice Suddenlink or Altice Optimum programs. The Altice Advantage program comes with free internet for the first 60 days of the contract. It is available to families with K-12 or college students in areas with Altice services.
The Altice free internet program is also available to students using district Chromebooks at home to access remote learning. Altice refers to this option as Student Wi-Fi, which schools have to sign for and not households or individual students. The school must register all devices in advance for its students to access the internet through the program.
4) AT&T Low-Cost/Free Internet For Students
Apart from the FCC-sanctioned free internet program, AT&T offers free data plans for schools through registered tablets for 60 days. The company has also established a $10 million fund to support students enrolled in distance-learning programs.
The AT&T Access program is for low-income families that participate in SNAP or receive government SSI benefits. According to the Federal Government poverty guidelines, qualifying families should have an income of 135%. Additionally, the student or a family member should participate in NSLP or Head Start program.
AT&T’s free internet from AT&T is available to students and their households through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Qualifying households get:
- Free installation
- In-home Wi-Fi
- Zero deposit
- No annual contract
The government subsidizes internet by offering at least $30, and given that AT&T charges $30 for the most affordable package, customers effectively enjoy free internet. So, if you want to know how to get free internet for students from the government, this program is one of the best.
5) Synergy No-Cost Internet For Students
Synergy Internet is one of the many ISPs that offer low-cost or free internet programs as part of the government’s Lifeline and ACP initiatives. Through Synergy Charity Services, the company reaches out to low-income families with affordable or accessible internet. Households that qualify for this program must participate or have a family member enrolled in SSI, SNAP, Medicaid, NSLP, Housing Assistance, etc.
Also, the households should be located in areas with good Synergy Internet, Verizon, or Spectrum coverage. Only families that haven’t used services from the three ISPs can get into the program. Finally, the families shouldn’t be in debt to any three companies.
6) Cox Low-Cost Internet For Students
Through its ConnectAssist package, Cox seeks to provide affordable internet for people on government assistance and households participating in income-based programs like Medicaid, WIC, TANF, SNAP, etc. The ConnectAssist program starts at $30 per month and can be free of charge for households enrolled in ACP.
Students can benefit from high-speed internet connectivity with a download speed of 50 Mbps. Besides, they can access Wi-Fi hotspots and Cox Digital Academy for valuable educational resources. It targets households across the U.S. as long as the Cox network is available.
Besides, Cox is also a participant in the Connect2Complete program, providing the Internet Starter 10 plan with download speeds of up to 10 Mbps. Since it costs $9.99 per month, qualifying households can enjoy free internet coverage by a subsidy from the government.
7) Mediacom Low-Cost/Free Internet
Mediacom is one of the ISPs participating in the Connect2Compete program. Unlike Cox, whose minimal download speed, Mediacom provides up to 25 Mbps for $9.99 per month. Students in qualifying households can enjoy free internet with a commensurate government subsidy.
Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a government-initiated program providing up to $30 per month for the home internet bill for poor households living on tribal land or in high-cost neighborhoods. In some cases, the subsidy is as high as $75, providing students within these households access to the internet.
Students can access the internet through ACP if their households meet the given criteria. First, the homes must qualify for the lifeline program by the FCC. Second, the student or another family member should be enrolled in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or the School Breakfast Program (SBP).
Furthermore, the family must have received a Pell Grant in the last 12 months, is eligible for other low-income programs, and receives WIC and SNAP assistance. Once the family gets enrolled in the ACP, all students in the household can access free internet from the government.
The ACP is a replacement for the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program of 2021, whose purpose was to provide relief to families due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The ACP has a lower monthly benefit and supports families on WIC compared to the EBB. According to the Federal Poverty guidelines, families that qualify for the ACP must have 200% of their income.
Where Else Can Students Access Free Internet?
Apart from government initiatives targeting their households, students can also access free internet in various places and complete their schoolwork. Here are suggestions of the places where students can go for free internet:
- Schools and Universities: Most schools and universities provide free internet to their students. If you have no internet at home, you only need to go to campus to access free Wi-Fi. Students can also go to computer labs to complete their assignments.
- Libraries: Did you know that you can access free Wi-Fi at the local public library? You can either use an in-house computer or get Wi-Fi access to your device. However, you must have a library card to access Wi-Fi services.
- Chains and Cafes: There’s plenty of free internet from the major retailers, restaurants, and coffee chains. Examples include McDonald’s, Starbucks, Whole Food, and Target. Students visiting these chains can take the free Wi-Fi to complete their assignments.
- Airports: Airports offer free high-speed internet to passengers transiting through them. Students can access the internet for free at the airport whenever they travel to another destination.
- Wi-Fi Hotspots: Most significant cities have Wi-Fi hotspots from the major ISPs. Through public hotspots, students can access the internet in government centers, parks, stores, or malls.
Do you know how to get free internet for students from the government? Students who want to enjoy free internet at home can do so by their households by enrolling in any of the government-provided subsidy programs through the ISPs. A case in point is the Lifeline and ACP programs, which substantially reduce the internet cost. However, the households or members would need to be enrolled in a government economic relief program to qualify for the Lifeline or ACP programs.