Almost everyone, specifically students, low-income families, and those affected by COVID-19 is struggling to pay their internet expenses. Today, the Federal Communications Commission or the FCC has worked on a brand new Emergency Broadband Benefit Program or EBBP to help those who are affected. Let’s take a closer look at what this program is all about below:
What exactly is the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?
In simpler understandable words, the EBBP is simply a discount internet program that offers a discount amount of $50 on internet services to the participants who are qualified and a discount amount of $75 on those who are in tribal lands.
There is also another one-time program that offers a discount amount of $100 off the purchase of a certain gadget like a computer or a tablet. However, this may require you to add another amount of about 10-50 dollars upon the purchase price.
Who is Qualified for the EBBP?
To qualify for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, you must have at least some of these factors:
- Qualified for the Lifeline Program (A program also made by FCC)
- Part of the USDA Community Eligibility Provision during the school year of 2019 – 2020.
- Loss of income from the beginning of the pandemic (February 29, 2020), having an income of below $99,000 for the single filers and $198,000 for the joint filers in 2020.
- Receipt for Federal Pell Grant
- Existing individuals participating in the internet provider’s existing low-income or some COVID-19 program.
The Lifeline Program – This includes households who make less than 135% of the FPG or the Federal Poverty Guidelines or at least one individual who is a beneficiary of the federal assistance programs.
Medicaid – Helps with healthcare costs.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – Provides cash payments to disabled individuals.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – Provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of the needy.
Federal Public Housing Assistance – Assisting very low-income families, elderly, and disabled individuals who struggle with their housing.
For those on Tribal Programs:
Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
Head Start (for household who have qualifying income)
Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF) – Assistance to needy families specifically in children for their needs of safety and care.
Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
Once you are eligible for Lifeline, then you are automatically eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. Discounts from both may also be applied and using both discounts is not discouraged.
As of now, you can’t sign up for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program yet. The process of establishing the program is still ongoing and it hasn’t opened yet for enrollment. Of course, the said program will surely be facilitated by the Universal Service Administrative Company or the USAC, which is also the agency handling the Lifeline program. Once the program is opened, then you should be able to enroll through USAC considering you have passed the eligibility of the program.
When will the Enrollment Open?
The EBBP was fixed last February 25, 2021, and ever since, the FCC aimed for the program to be operating in a span of s 60 days so it would be in April for the program to fully start running. Updates will further be announced as soon as the FCC will make its statement for the opening of enrollment.
How Long is the Eligibility of the EBBP?
Emergency Broadband Benefit Program lasts for up to 6 months right after the Department of Health (DOH) and the Human Services (HS) declare that the COVID-19 pandemic has already ended. All in all, there is a total of about $3.2 billion budget allotment for the said program, and if there is a shortage for the budget, there is a possibility that the program may early be closed and everyone will be notified ahead of time if the funds for the program is rapidly decreasing or insufficient.
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