The program is designed to help families pay for a service that's been essential for survival during the pandemic.

A new program authorized by the CARES Act to help low-income households pay for internet service has finally been launched by the FCC. The Emergency Broadband benefit pays up to $75 per month towards internet service and also pays $100 towards a laptop or tablet purchased through an internet provider. The benefits are part of a $3.2 billion allotment included in the $2.2 trillion COVID relief bill passed almost one year ago.

As the coronavirus spread across the nation, lockdowns forced Americans to almost all of their daily activities including working, shopping, and learning from home. The reliance on the internet to survive during the crisis has highlighted the deficit low-income and rural families face when it comes to broadband service. This program is designed to help those families get access to this fundamental utility.

“This is a program that will help those at risk of digital disconnection. It will help those sitting in cars in parking lots just to catch a Wi-Fi signal to go online for work. It will help those lingering outside the library with a laptop just to get a wireless signal for remote learning,” said Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “It will help those who worry about choosing between paying a broadband bill and paying rent or buying groceries. In short, this program can make a meaningful difference in the lives of people across the country.”

Child participating in school over the internet

Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

The program provides $50 to low-income households and $75 to those living on Tribal lands. It is open to people on existing low-income programs including, SNAP, Medicaid, and Lifeline. You are also eligible if you received a Pell grant or if your income fell significantly since February of 2020 and you made less than $99,000 or $198,000 for a family. Eligible households can also get $100 towards a laptop or tablet. The FCC expects the program to be up and running within the next 60 days. The program will pay out a monthly benefit for each eligible household until the funds from the bill run out. Contact your local internet provider to see if they are participating.

Is this a game-changer for you or has it arrived too late in the game? Share your thoughts in the comments.