Affordable Connectivity Program
What’s Changing with the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) ?
- The maximum monthly benefit will change from $50 per month to $30 per month for households not located on qualifying Tribal lands. The monthly benefit will remain at $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands.
- Households have new ways to qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program such as: receiving WIC benefits or having an income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
- Households that qualified for the Emergency Broadband Benefit due to a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 or by meeting the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s COVID-19 program will need to requalify for the Affordable Connectivity Program. These households will receive additional details about the steps they need to take from the program administrator (USAC) or their broadband provider, in January 2022, and will be given at least 30 days to respond. They will continue to receive their full EBB benefit until March 1, 2022.
Resources for School and District Leaders
To help schools and districts as they assist with ACP sign-ups, OET developed FAQs and resources to facilitate communication with families about their eligibility. This includes a template letter to let families know their child receives free or reduced-price school meals and therefore meets the ACP’s eligibility criteria. OET also provides a sample form that can be used to obtain families’ consent to share their child’s eligibility for free or reduced-price school meals with ACP-participating providers.
Strategies for School and District Outreach to Families
As trusted community members, schools and districts are encouraged to engage in outreach to eligible families. In doing so, schools and districts can use the FCC’s outreach toolkit, with resources translated into multiple languages. In addition, schools and districts can take steps to help families navigate the sign-up process. Consider using the following strategies to get the word out to families.
About the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
Each participating household may also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 for one connected device—a laptop, desktop, or tablet computer—where available from a participating broadband provider, as long as the household contributes more than $10 and less than $50 towards the cost of the device. Each participating household is limited to a single device discount. If a household had obtained a connected device because of its enrollment in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB), which ended on December 31, 2021, the household would not be eligible for an ACP connected device.
School Tip: Not all participating providers are offering a connected device, so this might be something families consider when selecting which participating provider they will use.
In addition, a household is eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program if the household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or if a member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:
- Participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, WIC, or Lifeline;
- Participates in Tribal specific programs, such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations;
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year; or
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income internet program
- Use USAC’s Companies Near Me tool to confirm whether there is a participating internet service provider offering service in their area.
School Tip: Some participating providers may not have coverage in all parts of your community, so it is important for each family to check with the provider(s) listed for their zip code to confirm they offer service to their address.
- There are several ways to sign up for the program, so families should contact their preferred participating provider for more information. A service provider may operate its own eligibility process if they have received approval from the FCC. The service provider also may work with the school to confirm household eligibility through the free or reduced price school lunch program or school breakfast program if the school has obtained written consent from the family to release such information. A service provider may also use or direct applicants to use the Lifeline National Eligibility Verifier (National Verifier) application process, which is administered by USAC. National Verifier applications can be completed at a participating service provider store location, or via mail.
- When applying, applicants must provide: (a) full name, (b) date of birth, and (c) address. To verify their identity, applicants may provide the last four digits of their Social Security Number (SSN), or their full Tribal Identification (ID) Number, or they can submit one of the following to verify their identity: a U.S. Government-issued ID, military ID, U.S. passport, U.S. driver’s license or ID, or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. If the household is eligible through a child or dependent, applicants will also be asked to provide similar information for the benefit qualifying person. More information on forms of documentation is available on the USAC website: https://acpbenefit.org/how-to-apply/show-you-qualify/.
School Tip: If households are unable or uncomfortable using the last four digits of their Social Security Number, they can use one of the other forms of identification listed above.
- Verify eligibility. Families qualifying for the ACP using their NSLP or SBP eligibility status will also need to submit certain information and/or documentation to verify their eligibility for the ACP, depending on whether their child attends a CEP school or district:
- For CEP schools or districts:
- If applying online, enter the name of the CEP school and list the name of the student attending the CEP school.
- If applying by mail, provide the student’s name, school name, city, and state of a school that participates in the Community Eligibility Provision for the 2019–2020, 2020–2021, and/or 2021-2022 school year.
- For both options, families must provide documentation that demonstrates that their child or dependent (referred to as a benefit qualifying person or BQP on the application) attends a CEP school. The documentation must include: the benefit qualifying person’s name, name of the school or of the school district, and a date that coincides with the 2019-2020, 2020-2021, or 2021-2022 school year. Examples of acceptable documentation include a letter from the school or school district or a report card that provides the information listed above and indicates that the benefit qualifying person listed on the application is enrolled in the CEP school also provided by the consumer on the application.
- For non-CEP schools or districts:
- Families must provide documentation verifying student participation in the NSLP or SBP, including a school or district-issued letter confirming student participation in either program during the 2019–2020, 2020–2021, or 2021-2022 school year. A template letter that can be adapted is available in the Office of Educational Technology website.
- For CEP schools or districts:
For CEP schools or districts, the USAC will automatically check the name of the CEP school or district against the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) database to confirm the CEP status of the school provided by the household on the ACP application. However, households will be required to enter the school’s name, the student’s name, and provide documentation that shows that the student listed on the application is enrolled in the school during the 2019-2020, 2020-2021, or 2021-2022 school years.
For non-CEP schools, neither USAC nor the participating provider will be contacting the school or district to confirm the student’s participation in the free or reduced price school lunch program or school breakfast program.
Protecting student privacy.In accordance with student privacy requirements under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the National School Lunch program,2 a school or district that initiates sign up for eligible students must obtain written consent to share student participation in the free or reduced price school lunch program or the school breakfast program with a participating provider. A template consent form that can be adapted is available on the Office of Educational Technology website.
Working with participating providers. To verify eligibility, schools would need to work directly with the participating provider or providers in their area, and those providers may need to seek additional authorization from the FCC to operate their own verification process using the NSLP and SBP meal eligibility status information provided by the school. Schools interested in this option should discuss this with local providers directly to see if the providers have the ability to operate this type of verification process.
This document was produced by the U.S. Department of Education (Department) regarding the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Other than statutory and regulatory requirements included in the document, the contents of this guidance do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or the Department’s or agency’s policies.
This document contains resources (including links to those resources) that are provided for the user’s convenience. Inclusion of these materials is not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed or products or services offered. These materials might contain the views and recommendations of various subject-matter experts, as well as hyperlinked text, contact addresses, and websites to information that other public and private organizations created and maintain. The opinions expressed in any of these materials do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the Department. The Department does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of any outside information included in these materials.