You qualify for help if your household meets any of these criteria:
• You qualify for the existing Lifeline program.
• You receive benefits under a free and reduced-price school lunch program or school breakfast program.
• You lost your job or experienced a substantial loss of income since Feb. 29, 2020.
• You’re a student who receives a federal Pell Grant.
• You meet the eligibility criteria for your participating internet provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
Not all internet service providers (ISPs) will be participating in the program. The FCC is maintaining a web page where consumers can check to see whether their internet provider has signed on. The site lists about 300 providers that have so far signed up to participate, broken out by state.
The FCC says that more information will be coming about eligibility due to loss of income. For now, households will be able to enroll in the program by documenting a substantial loss of income with a layoff or furlough notice, an application for unemployment insurance benefits, or similar documentation. It will then will be verified by the Universal Service Administrative Company.
A participating provider can also use an alternate verification process, provided it’s approved by the FCC. A school must verify the eligibility of a household based on the participation in the free and reduced-price lunch program or the school breakfast program.
Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company, is among the ISPs participating. “The Emergency Broadband Benefit is a welcome step in getting assistance directly to those in need during this pandemic, and we plan to participate in the effort,” says Mitch Rose, Comcast’s executive vice president for federal government affairs.