Emergency Broadband Benefit Applications Open, Provides $50 per Month to Help Recipients Pay Broadband Bills

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is accepting applications for an economic relief program providing $50 per month to help low-income families pay for broadband.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit program will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands,” states an announcement shared Wednesday by Congressman Rob Wittman (R-Virginia-01). “Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.”

Households are eligible for the program if a member of the household meets one of the criteria including: income at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines; receiving benefits like SNAP or Medicaid; receiving benefits under free and reduced school meal programs; receiving a Pell grant during the current year; or experiencing a “substantial loss of income due to job loss” after February 29, 2020 with an annual income less than $99,000 on individual tax returns.

The program works through 825 participating broadband providers and the funds are sent directly to the broadband provider, who will discount beneficiaries’ bills. To enroll in the program, visit getemergencybroadband.org.

The program includes a $3.2 billion fund and was created by the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed in December 2020, according to an FCC site. The program lasts until the $3.2 billion is spent or until six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares the pandemic is over.

This program will have a tremendous, positive impact on so many American households. It’s an investment in American families and a vote of confidence in the economic power of getting us all online,” Acting Chairwoman of the FCC Jessica Rosenworcel said in a press release.

“High-speed internet service is vital for families to take advantage of today’s health, education, and workplace opportunities. And the discount for laptops and desktop computers will continue to have positive impact even after this temporary discount program wraps up.”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network.  Email tips to [email protected]

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