What the Tech? Do You Qualify for Broadband Benefits?
2020 will be remembered as the year families worked and went to school under the same roof.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent closing of offices and schools resulted in high broadband internet bills as well as families being forced to purchase new computers and devices so everyone could do their work from home.
The Federal Communications Commission is going to help with those expenses.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit has been authorized by the FCC to provide discounts toward broadband service as well as a one-time discount to the purchase of a laptop, computer or tablet.
According to the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit website, the program is to help households struggling to pay for internet service during the pandemic.
Who qualifies? It’s a much larger group of Americans than you might think. According to the FCC, a household is eligible if one member of the household:
● Qualifies for the Lifeline program;
● Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch or breakfast program
● Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
● Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020, and the household had a total income in 2020 below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
● Meets the eligibility criteria for participating providers’ existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
Millions of families will qualify based on household income levels and job loss. According to this report, only 10.3% of households make over $200,000 and only 8.3% have a household income level of $150,000-$199.999 in 2019.
The one-time discount of a computer, laptop, or tablet is up to a $100 discount on the purchase price. The broadband internet discount will be $50 a month.
An FCC spokesperson responded to my email request for more information and said the benefit will not apply to computers or device purchases from last year and also will not apply to internet bills during 2020.
While the Broadband Benefit has been authorized by the FCC there is no start date set and no date of when the commission will begin taking applications.