Assistance Programs: Affordable Connectivity Program and Lifeline
Programs detailed on this page:
Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Overview
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program that replaces the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB Program) to help qualifying households pay for internet service and connected devices.
Households fully enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program as of December 31, 2021 will continue to receive their current monthly benefit until March 1, 2022. More information about steps current Emergency Broadband Benefit recipients must take to continue receiving the Affordable Connectivity Program benefit after March 1, 2022 will be available in the coming weeks.
What’s Changing With The New Plan?
- The maximum monthly benefit will change from $50 per month to $30 per month for households.
- 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 Program based on a substantial reduction in income since February 29, 2020 from job loss or furlough, or by meeting the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s COVID-19 program, will need to requalify for the Affordable Connectivity Program. In January 2022, these households will receive additional details about the steps they need to take from the program administrator (USAC) or their broadband provider, and will be given at least 30 days to respond. They will continue to receive their full EBB benefit until March 1, 2022.
- Other changes may come after the FCC implements final rules regarding the ACP in mid-January 2022.
The application to enroll in the Affordable Connectivity Program opens on December 31, 2021.Apply Now
Affordable Connectivity Program Eligibility
A household is eligible if one member of the household meets at least one of the low-income criteria, including but not limited to, qualifying for the Lifeline program or free and reduced-price school lunch programs.
- Based on your household income
- If you or your child or dependent participate in certain government assistance programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, WIC, or other programs
- If you or your child or dependent already receives a Lifeline benefit
Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) FAQs
A household is eligible if one member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:
- Has an income that is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines;
- 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;
- Is approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020, 2020-2021, or 2021-2022 school year;
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year; or
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income program
- The end of the program may not be timed to your billing cycle for service. This may result in you receiving less than the full monthly service discount in the final month of the program. In the event that you might receive a partial benefit in the last month of the program, Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom must receive your permission before they can charge you an amount higher than what you would pay if the full Emergency Broadband Benefit is applied to your broadband bill. In other words, if you were receiving a $50 discount off of your broadband bill, but based on the available funds in the program, there is only enough to provide you with a $40 discount, your provider must have your permission to charge you the additional $10.
- Households will need to opt-in or request to continue broadband services when the program ends. If you don’t opt-in or select a new service plan with Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom, your broadband service will end once the program ends. Even if you had service with Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom before enrolling in the Emergency Broadband Benefit, you will need to opt-in to continue broadband services after the program ends.
Lifeline is a federal program that lowers the monthly cost of phone and internet. Eligible customers will get up to $5.25 toward their bill. You can only use Lifeline for either phone or internet, but not both. Only one Lifeline Program discount is available per household on either a wireless or wireline qualifying service. Under the Lifeline Program, a household is defined as any individual or group of individuals who live together at the same address and share income and expenses. The Lifeline Program benefit is non-transferable.
Eligibility and Application
To receive the Lifeline Program discount, residential customers must establish the eligibility of their household.
- Apply online to the Lifeline Program through the National Verifier.
- Or, apply on a uniform paper application directly regardless of which provider you get phone or internet service from.
Visit Universal Service Administrative Co. at www.lifelinesupport.org or call 1-800-234-9473 for more information about the Lifeline Program.