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Affordable Connectivity Program

What is the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) ?  

  • The ACP is a federal program to help eligible households pay for internet service.
  • The ACP provides eligible households a discount of up to $30 per month off their internet bills for households not located on qualifying Tribal lands and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. 
  • There are several ways to qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program such as participating in the Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch or School Breakfast Program (including the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP); participating in certain other federal assistance programs, including Medicaid, SNAP, WIC benefits, or Federal Pell Grants (current award year); or having a household income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines

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.

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.

You can download helpful outreach materials at the FCC’s website and USAC’s website. Consider the best communication methods for reaching your eligible families, including sending emails or newsletters, distributing printed fliers with school lunches, or using social media channels. These materials, translated into several languages, can be adapted or customized for your school or district
Limited digital skills or language barriers may present barriers to families navigating the sign-up process. Families may also be hesitant to share personal information required for sign-up. These barriers may disproportionately impact English learners, children of immigrants without documentation, or students experiencing homelessness. Launching an outreach team made up of students, families, or trusted community partners can help address these barriers to access. DigitalBridgeK-12 has resources on how to start and train an outreach team and outreach tips and templates.
The two steps to enroll in the ACP are to go to AffordableConnectivity.gov to submit an application or print out a mail-in application and then contact your preferred participating provider to select a plan and have the discount applied to your bill. Schools and districts can proactively help eligible families identify which local providers are participating by assembling a list of participating providers by zip code using the USAC Companies Near Me tool. Providing this localized list along with the ACP information may be helpful for families that have limited technology access, digital skills, or language barriers. Alternatively, a school or district outreach team can offer in-person or virtual support for eligible families trying to identify participating providers.
Consider organizing a participating provider fair so that families can compare and ask questions about the available internet service plans offered by each local participating provider. Meeting local provider representatives provides an opportunity to begin building trust with families that may be hesitant to sign up. Any provider fair should be consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 guidelines and state/local requirements.
Families with children seeking to qualify through NSLP, SBP or CEP schools will need to provide documentation to verify their child’s participation in the NSLP or SBP or enrolment in a CEP school. Households can rely on documentation from the current school year or the school year immediately preceding their ACP application. We encourage schools or districts to consider adapting and sending the template letter as households may no longer have their eligibility status letter for the NSLP or SBP.

About the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) ACP is a federal program to help eligible households pay for internet service. If you have students whose families are struggling to afford their monthly internet service, this program may be able to help. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) administers the ACP under the direction of the FCC. Visit AffordableConnectivity.gov for more information.
The ACP provides a monthly discount of not more than $30 per month on broadband service and associated equipment (for example, a modem) for eligible households and not more than $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. qualifying Tribal lands. If the household is qualified for the ACP and chooses an eligible plan from a participating provider that costs $30/month or less, the household will receive that service for free.

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. To find a provider that offers a connected device through the ACP, visit the Companies Near Me tool.

Households with a child or dependent who has received approval for benefits under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or the School Breakfast Program (SBP), including a child or dependent who attends a school participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), are eligible for the ACP. For CEP-participating schools or districts, all students are eligible for the ACP.

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
  1. There are several ways to sign up for the program. Consumers can apply online via the National Verifier consumer portal, by mail, or through a participating provider. Consumers can use USAC’s Companies Near Me tool to find participating internet service providers in their area.
  2. A service provider may operate its own eligibility process if they have received approval from the FCC. A internet service provider may also use or direct applicants to use the National Verifier application process, which is administered by USAC.
  3. 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, submit identity documentation. Examples of acceptable identity verification documentation include a government-issued, military, state, or Tribal ID, birth certificate, passport, U.S. driver’s license, 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://www.affordableconnectivity.gov/how-to-apply/show-you-qualify/.

    School Tip: If households are unable or uncomfortable providing the last four digits of their Social Security Number, they can use one of the other forms of identification listed above. However, providing the last four digits of the Social Security Number can help process your application the fastest.

  4. Verify eligibility. Families qualifying for the ACP may be asked to submit documentation to prove their eligibility. Households wishing to use their NSLP or SBP eligibility status or their student’s enrollment in a CEP school will need to submit certain information and/or documentation to verify their eligibility for the ACP:
    • For CEP schools or districts:
      • If applying online, select the name of the CEP school from the list 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 the school the student is enrolled in that participates in the Community Eligibility Provision.
      • For both options, families must provide official school 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 enrolled student’s (benefit qualifying person’s) name, name of the school, the relevant school year for which the student is enrolled, and schools address and school contact information (phone number or email). current school year. Households may rely on documentation from the current school year or the school year immediately preceding the ACP application. Examples of acceptable documentation include a student’s report card or an official letter from the school or school district indicating the student’s enrollment. The report card or official letter must meet the above requirements. Generic school notices that do not include the student’s name and other required information are not sufficient to enroll in the ACP based on the CEP.
    • For non-CEP schools or districts:
      • Families must provide documentation verifying student participation in the NSLP or SBP, including a school or school district-issued letter confirming student participation in either program. during the current school year or the school year immediately preceding the ACP application. A template letter that can be adapted is available in the Office of Educational Technology website.
No. When families sign up directly for the ACP through the National Verifier, they submit their eligibility documentation and schools and districts will not be contacted to verify student participation in the NSLP and SBP.

For CEP schools or districts, 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 from the current school year to the school year immediately preceding the ACP application that shows that the student listed on the application is enrolled in the CEP school. The student must still be enrolled at the CEP school at the time of the ACP application.

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.

If the school, district, local government, or other community organization is paying the full cost of internet service and the receiving household does not pay any fee for the service, the ACP subsidy cannot be claimed by the school, district, etc. or the household. If any such local program ends, eligible households could instead receive a discount through the ACP.
Additional information can be found on USAC’s consumer website, AffordableConnectivity.gov or by calling the USAC Affordable Connectivity Program Support Center at 877-384-2575. You can also find information on the FCC’s website, https://www.fcc.gov/acp.

Disclaimers

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.