Did you know that you can get free internet services with food stamps? If your family benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), you are eligible for free internet from the government, internet service providers, and other special programs.
However, getting free internet isn’t automatic. You must meet particular eligibility criteria for a government program offering free internet. With food stamps, you can get free internet via Lifeline Assistance and the Affordable Connectivity Program.
- Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) targets low-income families with an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card to get free food from select stores.
- Enrolling in Food Stamps qualifies you for free internet services via Lifeline Assistance, the ACP, or a program by a non-profit organization.
- The Lifeline discount is $9.25, and the ACP discount is $34.25 per month. For Tribal Lands residents, the discounts are $34.25 and $75 for Lifeline and the ACP, respectively.
What Is the SNAP Program
Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the Federal government’s most extensive nutrition program. Eligible low-income families and individuals get an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which they can use to purchase food in participating retail food stores.
Only eligible individuals and families can benefit from Food Stamps. The following are the eligibility criteria for SNAP:
- Residence in a state where the program applies
- Meeting an eligible bank balance limit
- Households with disabled or elderly (over 60) members
You can apply for SNAP by contacting the local SNAP office. Each state has different contact information and application forms. Mostly, you will find your state’s application form online. Another way to apply is via a nearby authorized Food Stamps retailer.
SNAP is one of the many government assistance programs. Therefore, those who benefit from SNAP can get additional assistance, including free internet services. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and Lifeline Assistance are two programs that provide free internet services with Food Stamps.
Free Internet Services Via Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a federal assistance program launched on December 31, 2022, to provide free or discounted internet to low-income families. It replaced the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), which had assisted families who had experienced a loss of income during the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the ACP, you get $30 off your monthly broadband or mobile internet bill. Tribal Lands residents get $75 off their internet bills. If you use the internet sparingly, the discount could cover your entire monthly, enabling you to get free internet services.
You may qualify for the ACP if your household income falls within the threshold or you participate in a government assistance program such as SNAP. The following are the various ways you can be eligible for the ACP:
1. Income Below 200% of Federal Poverty Guidelines
The first way to get free internet services via the ACP is if your household income is under 200% of the current poverty guidelines. Federal Poverty Guidelines may differ based on where you live and may change with time.
Check out the following outline of Federal Poverty Guidelines and ACP income thresholds for 2022 in different states across America:
2022 Federal Poverty Guidelines and ACP Income Limits for 48 States and the District of Columbia
|No. of persons in a family or household||2022 Federal Poverty Guidelines||ACP income thresholds (200% of poverty guideline)|
|Each additional household member||$4,720||$9,440|
In most American states and the District of Columbia, the poverty guideline for a single-member household is $13590. If you live alone, you need to earn $27,180 annually to qualify for the ACP. There is a $9,440 adjustment of income limits with each additional family member. For an eight-member family, the annual income limit is $93,260.
2022 Federal Poverty Guidelines and ACP Income Limits for Alaska
|No. of persons in a family or household||2022 Federal poverty guideline||ACP Income thresholds (200% of poverty guideline)|
|Each additional household member||$5,900||$11,800|
Alaska has different poverty guidelines. In this state, a single-member family is poor if its annual income is under $16,990. Those living alone are eligible for the ACP if their income is up to $33,980. Every additional family member leads to an $11,800 adjustment. In an eight-member family, your income should be below $116,580.
2022 Federal Poverty Guidelines and ACP Income Limits for Hawaii
|No. of persons in a family or household||Poverty guideline||ACP Income Limit (200% of poverty guideline)|
|Each additional household member||$5,430||$10,860|
Hawaii is also unique when it comes to poverty guidelines. A single-family household is considered to live in poverty if its income is under $15,630. Based on the ACP 200% of income criterion, such a family would need a $31,260 income. With an adjustment of $10,860 for every additional member, a two-member household needs an income of up to $42,120 to qualify for the ACP.
2. Benefit from Food Stamps
The ACP is one of the programs you can qualify for by participating in SNAP. The entire household doesn’t have to participate in food stamps. Only one family member enrolling in SNAP can get free internet services with food stamps.
3. Participation in Lifeline Assistance
Before the ACP, Lifeline Assistance was the primary program through which poor households got free internet services. Eligibility for Lifeline Assistance is similar to that of the ACP. Therefore, you automatically qualify for the ACP if you benefit from Lifeline Assistance. Some ISPs make it possible for you to enjoy the benefits of both programs.
4. Participation in a Lifeline-Assistance Program
Besides SNAP, other programs can make you eligible for the ACP. The following are some of the eligible programs:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Tribal Head Start (for households that qualify based on income)
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
5. Benefit from the School Lunch Program
Suppose a member of your household benefits from a Federal government school feeding program, and you can use it to qualify for the ACP. Once you get program participation documents. In that case, you can use them to apply for free internet services.
The eligible programs include the school breakfast and lunch initiatives by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). With any of these programs, you do not have to prove your participation in SNAP.
6. Federal Pell Grant
The Federal Pell Grant is a government program funding needy university students through college. It is one of the eligibility criteria for the ACP. Therefore, you can get free internet services if you or a family member benefits.
7. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program
The Federal government offers WIC separate from SNAP. It targets the nutritional needs of women, infants, and children. You can get free internet services without Food Stamps if a family member participates in WIC.
Free Internet Services Via Lifeline Assistance
Lifeline Assistance is a Federal program that supports low-income families with free or subsidized phone and internet services. The program has existed for over 35 years since the 1980s, reaching millions of low-income individuals.
Lifeline Assistance offered home phone services when it started but later expanded to mobile phone services. Telecommunication companies participate in the program by contributing to the Universal Service Fund under the administration of the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC).
Once approved for Lifeline Assistance, you will get a $9.25 monthly discount on your phone or internet service. For Tribal Lands residents, the discount is $34.25 per month.
Since participation in SNAP is one of the eligibility criteria for Lifeline Assistance, you can get free internet services with Food Stamps. The following is an outline of the Lifeline Assistance eligibility requirements:
1. Income Under 135% of Poverty Guidelines
If your annual household income is below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, you can apply for and get the Lifeline Assistance discount. In the United States, poverty guidelines change based on your residence and time.
The following is an outline of the 2022 poverty guidelines and Lifeline Assistance income limits for various states:
2022 Federal Poverty Guidelines and Lifeline Assistance Income Limits for 48 States and the District of Columbia
|No. of persons in a family or household||Poverty guideline||Lifeline income thresholds (135% of poverty guideline)|
|The amount for each additional family member||$4,720||$6,372|
In most states and the District of Columbia, single-member households are considered poor if their income is below $13,590. These families can qualify for Lifeline Assistance with an income of up to $18,347. The income limit increases by $6,372 for every additional family member. Thus, an eight-member household would get Lifeline Assistance if its income is under $62,951.
2022 Federal Poverty Guidelines and Lifeline Assistance Income Limits for Alaska
|No. of persons in a family or household||Poverty guideline||Lifeline income threshold (135% of poverty guideline)|
|The amount for each additional family member||$5,900||$7,965|
Alaska residents have a different set of poverty guidelines, with a two-member low-income household having an annual income of less than $22,890. Each additional family member leads to a $7,965 increase in the Lifeline eligibility limit. If your household has three members, your income should be under $38,902.
2022 Poverty Guidelines and Lifeline Income Thresholds for Hawaii
|No. of persons in a family or household||Poverty guideline||Lifeline Income Threshold (135% of poverty guideline)|
|The amount for each additional family member||$5,430||$7,330|
A poor one-member household in Hawaii has an annual income of $21,060. However, for the sake of applying for Lifeline Assistance, the income limit is $21,101. An additional family member makes the income limit increase by $7,330. That means a two-member household would qualify for Lifeline if its income is below $28,431.
2. Benefit from Government Assistance
You can get free internet services with Food Stamps or any government assistance program. The eligibility criteria for Lifeline Assistance also include the following assistance programs:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (section 8)
- Veterans Survivor Pensions fund
- Reduced-price or free National School Lunch Program
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Tribal Head Start (for households with qualifying incomes)
- Federal Pell Grant (received by any household member in the current year)
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
Free Internet Services with Food Stamps from Non-Profit Organizations
Several internet service providers offer free services in conjunction with the government. Besides government initiatives, you can get free internet services with Food Stamps from non-profit organizations. The following are some of the non-profit organizations providing free internet services to low-income families on SNAP:
AT&T is one of America’s largest telecommunication and internet service providers. It offers multiple services, including Mobile Telephone, Satellite Television, Mobile Internet Services, Broadband Internet, etc.
It is one of the primary providers of free or affordable internet via the ACP. If you reside on Tribal Lands, you’ll get a $50 discount on your monthly internet bill. For those participating in SNAP or Food Stamps, AT&T has a $10 discount.
2. Comcast Internet Essentials
Comcast Internet Essentials is a program that provides low-income families with free internet services if they participate in Food Stamps, Medicaid, SSI, etc. Its monthly discount is $9.95. For those joining Comcast for the first time, there are no equipment rental or activation fees. The application for the program is on the Comcast website.
T-Mobile is a leading American telecommunications company that provides free internet services with Food Stamps. It participates in the government’s Lifeline Assistance or ACP programs. The company reaches out to low-income families with two offers: 10GB high-speed data and no-cost hotspot data or a free tablet with unlimited data. Applications for free internet services happen on the T-Mobile website.
4. Spectrum Internet Assist
Spectrum is a brand name owned by the American Telecommunications and Mass Media Company. With over 26 million customers, it is one of the largest network operators in the United States. It provides high-speed internet to low-income families at a $14.99 monthly fee.
5. Eagle Communication
Eagle Communications offers free internet services through the Connect2Compete model. If your family participates in Food Stamps or Lifeline Assistance, you can get a $9.95 discount on your internet plan. You may enroll for the Eagle Communications free internet program by going to their website.
6. PCs for People
PCs for People is a non-profit organization that supports low-income families with affordable computers and internet services. It targets individuals and families on Food Stamps and other government assistance programs.
Once enrolled, you’ll get $11.25 monthly towards your internet bill. If you need to repair your PC or laptop, the organization will subsidize your bill by $25. Hence, it helps low-income families to stay connected.
7. Cox Connect2Compete
If you are on Food Stamps, you can get free internet services from Cox Connect2Compete. For only $9.95 monthly, you’ll get affordable high-speed internet monthly. Eligibility criteria include participation in SNAP or having at least one child in grades one to twelve. Application for the program is on the Cox Connect to Compete Website
NextLink targets low-income families with discounted phone and internet services. It participates in Lifeline Assistance. Since SNAP is a criterion for Lifeline Assistance, you can get free internet services from NextLink with Food Stamps. However, before handing in your application, you must Ascertain that NextLink has services in your location.
9. Altice Connect2Compete
With Altice, low-income families get a free modem and router plus a $14.95 discount on their monthly bills. It is one of the best ways of getting free internet services with Food Stamps. Senior citizens and those participating in other assistance programs like SSI may also qualify for the discount.
10. Mediacom Connect2Compete
If you’re on Food Stamps, you may qualify for a $9.95 monthly discount for 10Mbps high-speed internet. Besides Food Stamps, you can qualify for this program if any of your K 12 children benefit from reduced-price or free school lunch. Application for the program is on the Mediacom website.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know how to get free internet services with Food Stamps, you should apply for them. You may either use Lifeline Assistance, the ACP, or both. These programs provide discounts on internet services via network providers like AT&T, T-Mobile, Comcast Xfinity, and Spectrum. Alternatively, you may use programs by non-profit organizations like PCs for People and Connect2Compete, which also have attractive discounts.
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