Are you struggling to pay your monthly internet bill? You‘re not alone – millions of households nationwide grapple with the cost of staying connected. But here‘s the good news: help is available through the Affordable Connectivity Program, or ACP. This federal benefit can reduce your internet bill by up to $30 per month, and even make it completely free!
In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll walk through exactly how to apply for the ACP. I‘ll share requirements to qualify, break down the application options step-by-step, and provide tips to stay safe online once you have affordable internet. Let‘s dive in!
What is the Affordable Connectivity Program and How Can It Help?
First things first – what exactly is the ACP and what does it offer?
The Affordable Connectivity Program is an FCC benefit program launched in 2022 that aims to lower the monthly cost of high-speed internet for eligible households. It replaced a previous temporary program called the Emergency Broadband Benefit.
Here are the key ways the Affordable Connectivity Program can help cut your internet bill:
- Up to $30 discount per month – This applies to your internet service bill from any participating provider. For households on Tribal lands, the discount increases to up to $75 per month.
- One-time discount on a connected device – You can receive up to $100 off the purchase of a laptop, tablet or desktop computer through a participating internet company.
- Access to low-cost internet plans – Internet providers offer ACP-eligible plans starting at $30/month or less. With the discount applied, these become completely free!
- No restrictions – You can use the ACP discount on any internet speed, data usage, device, or plan. There are no caps or limitations.
According to the FCC, over 10 million households have already signed up to save money through the Affordable Connectivity Program. It‘s clear this benefit is helping millions access affordable internet who may have been priced out of connectivity before.
Check If You‘re Eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program
The ACP is intended to help low-income households, so you‘ll need to meet certain eligibility requirements to apply. These are based mainly on your income level and participation in government assistance programs.
You may qualify if:
- Your household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines:
|Household Size||Annual Income Threshold|
You participate in certain government assistance programs:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch
- Pell Grant recipients
- You live on Tribal lands – Your income threshold may be higher. Check with your Tribal government.
- You‘re eligible for your internet provider‘s existing low-income program.
Give some thought to whether your household meets any of the above criteria. Having any one qualifier is all it takes to be eligible!
Now, let‘s look at how to start your ACP application based on your individual situation.
How to Apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program
You have three main options to submit an application for the ACP benefit:
- Through your internet provider – Fastest option if you‘re an existing customer eligible for their low-income program
- Online application – Convenient for households without current internet access
- Mail-in application – Best for those without internet or computer access
I‘ll go through how each method works step-by-step to help you decide the best way for your household to apply.
Apply Through Your Internet Provider
If you already have home internet service, applying directly via your provider is typically the quickest way to get approved.
Many major internet companies allow existing customers who qualify for their low-income programs to enroll in the ACP through their website or customer service line.
- Xfinity: Internet Essentials customers can call 1-855-846-8376 or go online to apply.
- Spectrum: Existing Spectrum Internet Assist subscribers can call 1-844-525-1574 to add the ACP benefit.
- AT&T Access: Recipients can call 1-866-986-0963 to have the ACP discount added to their plan.
Contact your provider to ask about applying for the ACP. They‘ll walk you through any required steps or documentation.
The benefit of this route is that the ISP can instantly confirm your eligibility through their systems in many cases.
Once approved, they‘ll apply the ACP monthly credit – up to $30 – to your future internet bills. It‘s the fastest path to discounts from the time you apply.
If you don‘t currently have an in-home internet subscription, you can still submit an ACP application online through the AffordableConnectivity.gov website.
Here are the steps to apply online:
- Go to ACPBenefit.org and click "Apply Now"
- Select your state and click "Continue Application"
- Provide your full name, physical address, date of birth, and contact information
- Answer questions to confirm eligibility based on household income or government program participation
- Upload documentation proving your participation in a qualifying program, if required
- Agree to the ACP terms and conditions
- Submit your application and record your application ID number
Once your application is approved, you can bring the ID number to any participating internet provider to select a plan and have the $30 monthly ACP credit applied.
The online application process takes about 10-15 minutes in most cases.
Mail In Your Application
For households without any internet access, you can mail a completed ACP application form:
Mail your application to:
ACP Support Center
P.O. Box 7081
London, KY 40742
You‘ll need to print and fill out the ACP mail-in application form available on the AffordableConnectivity.gov site.
Be sure to include photocopies of any documents required to prove your eligibility, such as program participation letters. Do not send original documents.
Once approved, the ACP Support Center will mail you your application ID number. Bring this to any participating provider to select your internet service plan and start receiving the ACP‘s affordable connectivity benefits.
What Documentation Do You Need to Provide?
When applying for the ACP, you‘ll need to submit documentation to confirm either your eligibility criteria or your identity.
To prove participation in a qualifying government program, provide an official document like a benefits approval letter, notice, or statement. It must have:
- Your full name
- Name of the program you participate in
- Name of the issuing government entity
- Issue date within the last 12 months or a future expiration date
Examples include SNAP award letters, Medicaid approval notices, and Lifeline documentation.
To prove income eligibility, you‘ll need to verify household income under 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Documents can include:
- Prior year‘s state or federal tax return
- Current income statement from your employer
- Retirement/pension benefits letter
- Social Security benefits letter
- Unemployment letter
You may also need to submit proof of identity like a driver‘s license, passport, or other ID.
Having these documents ready will help avoid any delays confirming your ACP eligibility!
Finding an Affordable Internet Plan Under $30
Once approved for the Affordable Connectivity Program, you‘ll want to find an internet service plan that‘s $30 or less per month.
With the full $30 ACP credit applied, this makes your internet completely free! Here are some providers offering plans at this price point specifically for ACP recipients:
|Provider||Plan Name||Speed||Other Details|
|AT&T||Access from AT&T||100 Mbps||No data cap|
|Comcast||Internet Essentials Plus||50 Mbps||Includes 1.2 TB data cap|
|Spectrum||Affordable Connectivity Program||50 Mbps||No data cap|
|Optimum||Optimum Advantage 30||30 Mbps||No data cap|
|Cox||Connect2Compete||50 Mbps||1 TB data cap|
|Verizon||Fios Forward||300 Mbps||No data cap|
Of course, you can use your ACP discount on any internet service plan from any participating provider. But these plans for $30 or less maximize your potential savings.
Be sure to ask providers in your area to learn more about ACP plan options to fit your household‘s needs and budget.
4 Tips to Stay Safe Online After Getting Connected
Once you have affordable high-speed internet through the ACP, you‘ll want to make sure your information and devices are secure.
Here are 4 quick tips to boost your online safety when connecting from home:
1. Use Unique Passwords
- Create different complex passwords for each online account. Mix random words, numbers, symbols.
- Use a password manager app to store them securely. Top picks are LastPass, Dashlane and Keeper.
2. Setup Two-Factor Authentication
- Add an extra login step beyond just a password.
- Options are text codes, authentication apps, security keys.
3. Install Free Antivirus Software
- Scan devices for malware, viruses, spyware. Leading choices are Avast, AVG and Panda.
4. Stay Up-to-Date on Cyber Threats
- Keep informed on the latest online scams, phishing and hacking.
- Learn how to spot suspicious links, texts, emails.
These affordable precautions provide vital layers of protection for you and your household‘s data.
Answers to Your Top 10 Affordable Connectivity Program Questions
Let‘s review answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the ACP benefit:
Is the Affordable Connectivity Program permanent or temporary?
The ACP does not currently have an end date. It will remain active as long as funding is available through the FCC.
When does my ACP discount start after being approved?
Your monthly ACP benefit will generally be applied to your internet bill within 1-2 billing cycles after approval. The one-time device discount can be used right away.
Can I get the ACP if I have unpaid internet bills?
No, the ACP does not cover past due balances. The benefit only applies to your current or future monthly internet service.
What if I move – can I transfer my ACP benefit?
Unfortunately, no. The ACP discount cannot transfer and is tied to your original household. You must reapply if you move to a new address.
What happens if I no longer qualify for the ACP?
You must contact your internet provider (or USAC) within 30 days if you no longer meet eligibility criteria. Failure to do so can lead to penalties.
Still have questions? Feel free to contact the ACP Support Center for individual help applying or managing your benefit.
Get Connected with Lower Internet Bills
I hope this guide provided you with a full overview of how to qualify and apply for the FCC‘s Affordable Connectivity Program.
With this benefit, millions of households now have access to high-speed internet service on a budget. Having affordable connectivity opens doors for remote work, virtual learning, telehealth and staying in touch with loved ones.
Don‘t hesitate to check your eligibility and submit an ACP application today. And be sure to take full advantage of the program‘s discounts and savings to lower your monthly bills.
With a few simple online safety practices, you can securely benefit from the world of opportunities that broadband internet provides. Here‘s to affordable internet access for all!