Help navigating all the various internet plans
We’ve done our best to make it simple for you to learn about the various cheap internet programs for low-income Americans, but we understand that it can be confusing because there are so many plans, and they have different eligibility rules, different geographic availability, and not all are fully implemented yet.
We’ve written this page to help you more easily find the right plan for you. Please read the entire page to get a handle on what programs are available.
What the programs have in common
The programs we list on the site primarily have one thing in common: they are created specifically to provide high-speed internet access to people who are having financial difficulties. Some programs are government-sponsored, some are provided by industry, and others are smaller regional programs started by grass roots or non-profit organizations.
All of the low-income internet programs we know of are listed under the pull-down link above, called “The Programs.” When you hover your mouse over this link, it will display a number of plans, and you can click any of them to learn more about that particular program. And you’ll also see an Overview of Programs (link) link, which is a great place to begin your search.
All of the programs offer high-speed internet access for under $10 a month.
National programs available now
Internet Basics, by CenturyLink, is specifically designed for families that meet the criteria set forth for the Lifeline Assistance phone program (you’ve heard of free government cell phones). Our information page on the program has the exact eligibility requirements, but in a nutshell, you qualify if you are already on any government assistance (i.e., SNAP, Medicaid, Section 8 housing) or if your household income is at or below 135% to 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Internet Essentials offers broadband internet for $9.95 and a computer for $150.
Internet Essentials, by Comcast, also offers high-speed internet for $9.95, and a computer for $150. The difference here is that it is not for low-income households in general, but instead is specifically designated for families that have at least one child who receives free school lunches through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Simple as that.
National Programs in Progress
Connect2Compete is a partnership of non-profit organizations and private companies, which will offer high-speed cable internet for $9.95 a month, plus a computer with Microsoft Office for as low as $150. You will qualify if your family has at least one student enrolled in the Free School Lunch Program, plus some other criteria you can read on our Connect2Compete page.
Lifeline Internet is going to be an expansion of the federal Lifeline Assistance program which provides free cell phones or discounted landline phones to low-income Americans. By already being on government assistance like SNAP and Medicaid, for instance, you will qualify. You can also qualify strictly on your income if it is below 135-150% of the Federal Poverty Level (depending upon state). Lifeline Internet is currently in a $30 million pilot program. Once they work out the details though the pilot, they will set the final rules and roll it out. We do not yet know if it will be free or if they will charge a minimal monthly fee. The FCC is really interested in this, and we think you could see availability by the end of the year. Keep checking back for updates.
The other programs under “The Programs” are either not as large a program as the others above, or are regional programs only available in small areas. They are worth checking in case they apply to you.
We also list some no-cost internet programs under the Free Internet link above. These are not necessarily unlimited-access, high-speed programs, although some are. The rest are either limited, have a need to purchase a device, or are dial-up. These are not ideal for our readers. but may help when no other option is available.
New programs are rolling out all the time
Bridging the “Digital Divide” by helping low-income Americans obtain high-speed broadband internet is an important goal of the federal government, state government, cities, non-profits and private companies. There is a massive push to get everyone in America connected as inexpensively, and as quickly, as possible. You need to keep up to date on both the existing and upcoming programs. The #1 source of this information is CheapInternet.com, so be sure to bookmark the site and check back often. You can also keep updated on any important news by following us on Facebook or subscribing to our free email updates.
We’re here for you. And, please, tell your friends about us so that they to can get the broadband they need in today’s world.