How to Apply for Low-Income Internet – Step by Step Guide

Do you know how to apply for low-income internet? That’s a question you should answer in the affirmative, especially if you need the government-provided internet. Luckily, applying for low-cost internet isn’t difficult.

With clear-cut procedures for accessing the Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), you can easily check if you’re eligible and hand in your application. Your application gets verified expeditiously in each of these programs and gets feedback within a few days.

This article discusses how residents of the United States can apply for low-income internet so that you can understand how it works. Please keep reading for more information.

How to Apply for Low-Income Internet

How to Apply for Low-Income Internet Through ACP?

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) started in 2022, targeting low-income households across the U.S. Out of the $14-billion-program, each qualifying low-income household receives a $30 subsidy for their monthly internet bills. Low-income families living on tribal lands were to receive $75 monthly. If they do not have a computer, laptop, or tablet, families can also receive $100 for buying one.

Each qualifying household can get only one ACP discount. Also, you can only get the benefit from one ISP. Once enrolled in the program, it’s up to you to notify the ISP when you no longer qualify for the ACP. That means no family member is in a government assistance program, or your income has gone above 200% of Federal Poverty Guidelines.

Here is a step-by-step guide on applying for low-income internet:

Step 1: Find Out If You Qualify

Before applying for low-income internet through the ACP program, you need to find out if you qualify. At least one member of your household must meet the laid-down criteria to qualify for this program.

First, there should be a member in the household participating in the Federal Lifeline program. Through the Lifeline program, low-income households receive a $9.25 discount and at least $34 for those living on tribal lands. Joining the ACP would qualify you for an additional discount on your monthly internet bills. You can have an expedited application process with Lifeline membership by skipping a step.

If you or none of the members of your household are in the Lifeline program, you can check if you participate in the other qualifying programs. You qualify for ACP if at least one member of your household participates in the following government assistance plans:

  • Federal Public Housing Assistance
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Medicaid
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) special supplemental nutrition program
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Pell Grant recipients for the current year
  • Free or subsidized school lunch program or breakfast program
  • Tribal-specific programs like Tribal TANF, Bureau of Indian General Assistance, Food Distribution Program

Apart from those programs, you can qualify for the ACP if your income is 200% of the prevailing Federal Poverty Guidelines. The income ceiling in the Federal Poverty Guidelines differs depending on the number of people in the household. It is illustrated below:

No of the people in a householdPoverty guidelines200% of the poverty guidelines
1$25,760$51,520
2$38,840$77,680
3$43,920$87,840
4$53,000$106,000
5$62,080$124,160
6$71,160$143,320
7$80,240$160,480
8$89,320$178,640

After eight members, there is an additional $9,080 for each additional person. The numbers above apply in most states but can be slightly higher in Alaska and Hawaii. Specific numbers are available on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website. If you have an 8-person household, you qualify for the ACP if your annual income is $178,640.

You also need to meet the ISP’s requirements for their low-income program. Once you join the program, you get discounted monthly internet payments and a $100 one-time discount for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.

Step 2: Enroll for the ACP Directly If on Lifeline

If you’re already a member of the Lifeline program, you can reach out to your internet service provider (ISP) directly and enroll in the ACP. You do not need to go to the ACP website to enroll in the program. 

That’s also true for those already enrolled in an ISP’s low-income program. You can request the ISP to transfer your membership into the ACP program. However, you must follow up with the ISP to ensure that it has FCC approval to participate in the program.

Step 3: Prepare the Necessary Paperwork

If you’re neither enrolled in the Lifeline or ISP low-cost program, you must collect all the documents you need to enroll. Remember to attach copies, not original documents for those who prefer mailing in their applications. The following are the documents you need to apply for the ACP:

  • Proof of income (tax return, social security statement, or pay stub)
  • Program participation letters, statements of benefits, or benefit verification letter
  • Identity verification (valid government I.D., military I.D., state I.D., Tribal ID, Birth Certificate, Passport, U.S. Driver’s License, Permanent Resident Card or Green Card, Certificate of U.S. Citizenship or Naturalization, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), or government assistance program document)
  • Proof of address (Utility bill, latest W-2 or tax return, mortgage or lease agreement, driver’s license)
  • Emancipated minor (court document or certificate of emancipation)

Step 4: Apply for Low-Income Internet

You can apply for the ACP in three ways – online, by mail, or directly via the ISP. If you pick the online option, you must create a new account on the ACP online application portal. You’ll fill out the online application form, make copies of your documents and upload them to the portal.

Alternatively, you can apply by mail. You have to print out the application form, fill it out, and send it with copies of your proof of documentation to the ACP Support Center. You can use the following mailing address:

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

Finally, you can contact your ISP for information about their enrollment requirements into the ACP. Most ISPs have an elaborate procedure for applying for the ACP. You may have to go to the ISP’s website to complete the application.

If you choose the online application program, you will likely get instant approval. Otherwise, there might be the need to send additional documentation to get the ACP discount. If you get approved, you can complete the application process.

Step 5: Follow Up with Your ISP

The FCC doesn’t implement the ACP nor sends you a check. Instead, it subsidizes the internet bill you have with an ISP. That’s why you must notify the ISP of your qualification for the ACP. The ISP can then apply the ACP discount to your monthly internet charge. You can get high-speed internet more cheaply or free of charge.

How to Apply for Low-Income Internet Through the Lifeline Program?

The Federal Government offers a $9.25 monthly service discount for internet or telephone service to low-income households via the Lifeline Program. Thus, those who qualify for Lifeline can apply for only one of the following:

  • Home phone service
  • Wireless phone plan with data
  • Home internet service

Even though the Lifeline Program subsidy doesn’t cover the cost of acquiring a wireless device, participating ISPs may provide a free wireless device to qualifying households. Besides, some customers may already have a wireless device with Lifeline. In that case, they have to check with the ISP to check if it’s compatible with the ISP’s network.

Each household can only get one Lifeline Program discount. Therefore, a household can only make one application if the people living there share an income and expenses. However, if a household has different people who do not share income, each member can apply for the Lifeline discount.

Here is how to apply for low-income internet via the lifeline program:

Step 1: Check for Eligibility

You can verify your eligibility by checking your income or participation in government assistance. Qualifying households should have a combined income of 135% of the prevailing Federal Poverty Guidelines. Here is a table showing how poverty guidelines work:

No of the people in a householdPoverty guidelines135% of the poverty guidelines
1$25,760$34,776
2$38,840$52,434
3$43,920$59,292
4$53,000$71,550
5$62,080$87,858
6$71,160$96,066
7$80,240$108,324
8$89,320$120,582

If you live alone in your home, you would need an income of $34,776 to qualify for the Lifeline Program. In an 8-member household, the income threshold is at most $120,582. Apart from income, households qualify for the Lifeline program if at least one family member is enrolled in a government-based assistance program such as the following:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance
  • Veteran’s Pension Benefit
  • Survivor’s Pension Benefit
  • Federal/State Tribal Assistance Programs

Step 2: Verify Eligibility and Make Application

You can fill out the standard Lifeline Program application through the National Verifier website. The National Verifier is a program operated by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), an offshoot of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Apart from submitting your application, you must avail the requisite eligibility documentation. That may include the following:

  • Proof of income through a tax return, pay stub, or social security statement
  • Program participation letters, statements of benefits, or benefit verification letter
  • Identity verification via a valid government I.D., military I.D., state I.D., Tribal ID, Birth Certificate, Passport, U.S. Driver’s License, Permanent Resident Card or Green Card, Certificate of U.S. Citizenship or Naturalization, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), or government assistance program document
  • Proof of address using a Utility bill, latest W-2 or tax return, driver’s license, or mortgage or lease agreement

The National Verifier returns an eligibility decision via email or mail in 7 to 10 days. If you have questions about the Lifeline Support Center, reach out to USAC via 1-800-234-9473, the Lifeline Support Center contact. 

You can submit your application to the National Verifier online or via mail. The online option requires you to create an account, choose a username and password, and enter all the required information. After submission, you can get an eligibility approval on the spot. Otherwise, you can submit additional eligibility documents.

Alternatively, you can submit your application manually. After printing the application, you should fill it out and send it to the Lifeline Support Center by mail. If you choose this option, you should be prepared for delayed approval. Here is the address you should use to make the application:

  • Lifeline Support Center
  • P.O Box 7081
  • London, KY 40742

Step 3: Choose and Sign-Up with an ISP

After getting approved, you have to choose an internet provider within 90 days. You can then sign up for the program through the ISP and enjoy $9.25 for low-income households or $34 for those living on tribal lands. These discounts may mean paying less or getting free internet from the ISP.

How to Apply for Low-Income Internet Through an ISP?

Did you know that you can apply for low-income internet directly through an ISP? This example involves a step-by-step guide to applying for Internet Essentials from Comcast. Here is the simple procedure you can follow:

Step 1: Check Your Eligibility 

Check eligibility for the Internet Essentials program, part of the ACP. Therefore, the qualification criteria for the ACP apply here too. It would also help if you lived in an area where Xfinity Internet is available. Importantly, you should be an existing Xfinity customer unless you have enrolled in the ACP. Finally, you shouldn’t have an outstanding Comcast debt.

Step 2: Submit your Application

If you’re eligible, go ahead and apply to the Internet Essentials website. Comcast may use your National Verifier ID to check your eligibility for the program. Where further verification is required, you will receive an application via email or mail. You can take photos of your identification documents and attach them to online applications.

Step 3: Getting Approved

Comcast reviews your application for the next few days and provides feedback via email, mail, or text message. You will likely get faster confirmation if you apply online. After that, you can arrange for a Getting Started kit to be shipped, schedule an installation, or visit the nearest Xfinity shop for a Getting Started kit. The equipment includes a step-by-step guide on setting up home internet. Within five to seven days, you should be able to go online.

Step 4: Applying for the ACP

Households that qualify for Internet Essentials can apply for ACP to receive a monthly discount on their internet bills. Depending on how much discount you get from the ACP, you can have affordable or free internet.

The Bottom Line

Now that you know how to apply for low-income internet, why don’t you get it? You can do it either through the ACP or Lifeline programs. These two programs have stringent eligibility criteria, which households must meet to qualify. Prior checking if you meet the criteria is key to helping you access low-income internet. Remember to check with your ISP for requirements to join any two programs.

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