Stimulus benefits from a previously passed coronavirus rescue package are finally setting in this week, providing Americans struggling with financial turmoil a monthly markdown on their internet bills and a one-time discount on a new computer.
“No one should have to choose between paying their internet bill or paying to put food on the table,” Jessica Rosenworcel, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) acting chairwoman, said in a release.
Rosenworcel added, “With the help of the Emergency Broadband Benefit, we have a new way for households to access virtual learning, for patients to connect to telehealth providers and for those struggling in this pandemic to learn new online skills and seek their next job.”
The FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit program was created to ensure that families maintain an essential digital resource, despite the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The program is offering up to a $50 reduction in broadband service and related equipment rentals, a discount of up to $75 per month on broadband services if the home is on eligible tribal lands, as well as a one-time $100 price cut on a laptop, tablet or desktop computer.
These services, along with the stimulus from President Joe Biden’s relief bill, including the $1,400 direct payments, extended weekly unemployment benefits and the enhanced child tax credit, will send American families with vast financial resources in the upcoming months.
Eligible recipients must have an income at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty threshold for the family size or they must be enrolled in an assistance program like SNAP benefits or Medicaid. Americans could also see the internet stimulus if they receive free and reduced-price school meal programs within the last or current school year.
If those terms don’t apply, then individuals who experienced a decline in income from losing a job or being furloughed at the onset of the pandemic and household income during 2020 was at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers, they could still qualify for the internet aid.
But each household can only qualify for one monthly broadband service reduction and one device discount, despite having more than one person who is eligible in a household.
The White House set aside $3.2 billion for the internet aid, and the FCC will pump federal funds to eligible households until the money dries up, or when the coronavirus crisis ends.
To apply for the stimulus, people can complete an online form that’s available in both English and Spanish at GetEmergencyBroadband.org.