Free Internet for Low-Income Families

Dave Schafer
Jul 21, 2023
Icon Time To Read8 min read

Affordable Connectivity Program

Disclaimer: As of February 7, 2024, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is no longer accepting enrollments to the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) as it winds down the program. Congress has not approved additional funding for the initiative, and the program is expected to run out of funds by the end of April 2024. 

The FCC has signaled that it wants the program to continue but is unable to without action from Congress.  We will update this article if or when the FCC finds a way to keep the program active or announces an alternative solution for low-income households.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a government-funded initiative to help low-income households access internet service. The ACP provides eligible households (whether that’s a single person or a family) a discount of up to $30 per month on internet service ($75 per month if you live on qualifying Tribal lands). You can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 toward a laptop, desktop, or tablet computer if you contribute between $10 and $50 toward the purchase.

Although not every internet service provider (ISP) participates in the ACP, most do—particularly the big names. Even better, many participating ISPs have a plan that’s $30 or less—meaning that once you apply the ACP discount, you effectively get your internet service for free.

Affordable Connectivity Program qualifications

There are a few ways you can qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program. The first is to have a household income that’s at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. The income qualifications are:

ACP Income Qualifications

Household size
Continental US
Each additional person above 8$10,280$12,860$11,820

You can also qualify if you or a dependent is enrolled in certain government assistance programs. These programs include the following:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Medicaid
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
  • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefits
  • Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program

Finally, if you’ve received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year or you’re already a member of the Lifeline program, you also qualify for the ACP.

How do I apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program?

Applying for the Affordable Connectivity Program is relatively easy. You just head to the website ( and fill out the application. The online application will walk you through the process. You can also apply through the mail. Simply follow the instructions on the website. However, we strongly recommend applying online for simplicity and security.

You may need to provide documentation proving that you’re eligible—this could include forms or paperwork from a qualifying government program, proof of identity, or proof of household income.

Once you’ve been approved for the ACP benefit, you can contact your ISP and let them know. They can then apply the discount to your bill.

Access from AT&T

Access from AT&T is a program that provides low-cost internet plans to eligible households. These plans run up to 100 Mbps for up to $30 per month. When combined with the Affordable Connectivity Program, you can get up to 100 Mbps internet for free. You can also apply for Access even if you don’t qualify for the ACP or if you’re using the benefit with another provider.

Access qualifications

If you’re already receiving ACP benefits, or you qualify for that program, you’re also eligible for Access from AT&T. You can also apply for and receive Access without ACP benefits, although the requirements are similar.

To qualify directly for Access, you need to participate in one of the following programs:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) — California residents only
  • National School Lunch Program

You can also qualify if your household income is 200% or less of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. You can find the income qualifications here.

How do I apply for Access from AT&T?

To apply for Access, you’ll first need to apply for ACP benefits. Once you’ve been approved for the Affordable Connectivity Program, you’ll need to call AT&T at 1-800-288-2020 to sign up for Access and have the discount applied.

Internet Essentials from Xfinity

Internet Essentials from Xfinity is a low-cost internet program for qualifying customers that provides affordable internet, computers, free Wi-Fi hotspots, and even free internet training. There are two plans available:

  • Internet Essentials provides 50 Mbps internet for $9.95 per month
  • Internet Essentials Plus provides 100 Mbps internet for $29.95 per month

Both plans can be combined with Affordable Connectivity Program benefits to provide free internet access to qualifying households.

Internet Essentials qualifications

Eligibility requirements for Internet Essentials are similar to those for other programs:

How do I apply for Internet Essentials?

Xfinity makes it super simple to apply for Internet Essentials and the ACP benefits. Simply head to the Internet Essentials signup page and shop for a plan. You can complete your ACP enrollment as part of the process. Once you’ve completed the enrollment, you’ll automatically receive your ACP discount starting from the second bill.

Spectrum Internet Assist (California residents only)

Spectrum Internet Assist is a program that provides affordable low-cost internet to qualifying households. The program provides an affordable internet plan, a free modem and security suite, and comes with no data caps or contracts attached. Participants can add Wi-Fi to the service for an additional $5 per month.

Qualifying households can get 50Mbps download speeds for $24.99 per month.

Internet Assist qualifications

Spectrum Internet Assist eligibility requirements are a little simpler than other programs. To qualify, you just need to be receiving benefits from one of these government programs:

  • National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
  • Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the NSLP
  • Supplemental Security Income (if you’re over age 65)

This means it's easier to see if you qualify for the program, but it does mean that the requirements are also a bit more strict than for some other programs, because these are the only ways to qualify.

How do I apply for Internet Assist?

To apply for Internet Assist, you simply need to visit the website, check your eligibility, and then apply online. If you also qualify for ACP benefits, you can apply them to your Internet Assist plan either during online enrollment or by calling Spectrum at 1-833-267-6094.

Hughesnet low income internet

Unlike some other ISPs, Hughesnet doesn’t have a special plan specifically for low-income households. However, it does accept ACP benefits, so you can apply your $30 discount towards a Hughesnet plan.

If you’re a current Hughesnet customer, or you’ve looked into this before, you may be familiar with something called the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB). This was a government program that served a similar purpose to the ACP by providing low-cost internet. It was discontinued in December of 2021 and replaced by the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Low Income Internet qualifications

The eligibility requirements for Hughesnet’s low-income internet are simple: if you’re eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program, you can sign up for it and then apply the benefit to a Hughesnet plan.

How do I apply for low income internet with Hughesnet?

The steps to apply for low-income internet with Hughesnet are the same as applying for the ACP. See our instructions to get started.

Viasat Free Internet

Like Hughesnet, Viasat participates in the Affordable Connectivity Program, but does not provide a specific low-cost plan. That means that you can apply the $30 ACP discount to whatever Viasat plan you like.

Free internet qualifications

You don’t need to do anything special to use your ACP benefits with Viasat. If you qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program itself, you can apply those benefits to a Viasat plan without having to meet any additional requirements.

How do I apply for free internet with Viasat?

The steps to apply for free internet with Vasat are the same as those for the Affordable Connectivity Program. See our instructions to get started.

Best cheap internet plans

HughesnetHughesnet Select50Mbps$49.99/mo.Satellite
CenturyLinkCenturyLink Simply Unlimited InternetUp to 140 Mbps$55/mo.*DSL
Verizon FiosVerizon Fios Internet 300/300300Mbps$49.99/mo.Fiber
Mediacom Prime Internet 100100Mbps$24.99/mo.Cable
* Speed may not be available in your area. Paperless billing or prepay required. Additional taxes, fees, and surcharges apply. Get the fastest internet speed available at your location (max speed is up to 140 Mbps).

If you need a cheap internet plan and don’t qualify for the ACP or any of the low-income plans featured elsewhere in this article, don’t worry. There are options out there, including widely-available satellite and DSL plans.

See if these providers are available now in your area by entering your zip below.

Senior internet discounts

Unfortunately, few ISPs offer senior-specific discount programs. That said, if you meet any of the eligibility criteria for the Affordable Connectivity Program, you can take advantage of those benefits, regardless of your age.

The ACP does have a senior-focused qualifier—if you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you can qualify for the ACP and receive a credit toward your internet service.

Free internet for students

If a student in your household qualifies for the National School Lunch Program, you may be able to apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program. This will give you up to a $30 discount on an internet plan, which you can then use to get free internet with many providers.

Aside from that, you may be able to take advantage of a program from T-Mobile called Project 10Million.

Project 10Million from T-Mobile

Project 10Million is an initiative that aims to provide free internet access to students that need it, as well as affordable laptops and tablets. The aim is to ensure that every student has access to the tools they need to succeed.

The program works like this: school districts apply with T-Mobile for the program, and then students eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) can claim their benefit through the school. Districts can also opt to use participation in other assistance programs to qualify students.

How to get a free laptop for low-income families

If your family needs a computer but can’t afford one, you have options. There are a number of charitable organizations that focus on providing computers to needy individuals and families.

Computers with Causes

Computers with Causes is a charitable organization that aims to ensure that every family that needs a computer has access to one. It places a special emphasis on students, teachers, and their families but serves a number of other groups. To apply, simply fill out the application form on its website:

The organization will request some documentation and conduct research to ensure that your need is genuine. The process can take a couple weeks, so if you know you have a need coming up, try to apply in advance.

PCs for People

PCs for People is an online store that provides low-cost laptops, desktops, and internet networking equipment to individuals and families in need. The organization doesn’t offer free equipment, but instead focuses on providing affordable prices. If you’re interested, you can apply at the link below:

PCs for People will request certain documentation before you’re able to shop—namely, photo ID and either proof of income or proof you’re enrolled in a government assistance program. Proof of citizenship is not required with PCs for People.

Low-Income Internet FAQs

Is the government giving free internet?

No, the government isn’t giving free internet—technically. However, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) offers up to $30 discounts on internet plans for eligible low-income households. Many ISPs work with the ACP to offer plans that essentially become free once the discount is applied.

How can I get 10 dollars a month on Wi-Fi?

A number of providers have low-cost plans that run about $10 per month—or less. Spectrum, Xfinity, and AT&T have plans designed around the Affordable Connectivity Program that can become either free or extremely cheap after applying your discount.

What is the difference between Internet Essentials and ACP?

Internet Essentials is a low-cost internet plan from Xfinity that offers 50 Mbps for $9.95 per month. For $29.95 per month, you can bump that up to 100 Mbps.

ACP, or the Affordable Connectivity Program, is a government initiative that gives eligible households a $30 discount on their monthly internet bill. This credit can be used with most internet service providers—including Internet Essentials from Xfinity.

How long will the ACP last?

As of February 7, 2024, the FCC is winding down that ACP due to a lack of funding from Congress and will no longer be accepting enrollments. The program is expected to run out of funding by the end of April 2024 unless a plan for funding is made.

What income is used for ACP?

The Affordable Connectivity Program’s income requirements are 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. The numbers are based on the size of your household and the state that you live in. Here are the income eligibility requirements:

Household size
Continental US
Each additional person above 8$9,440$11,800$10,860

Is the ACP program still available?

As of February 7, 2024, the FCC is no longer accepting new enrollments due to a lack of funding from Congress. Funding is expected to run out by the end of April 2024. Households that are currently enrolled will be notified by their ISP when their discount will end.

What’s the difference between Lifeline and ACP?

Lifeline is a permanent program that provides affordable access to communication tools like phone service and broadband internet access. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a newer program that provides additional support for low-income families that can’t afford internet access.

The two benefits are similar, but the good news is you don’t have to choose between them—if you are eligible for Lifeline, you’re eligible for the ACP, and you can receive both benefits at the same time.

What are the benefits of ACP?

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provides up to $30 per month towards broadband internet service for eligible households. Eligible families living on Tribal lands can receive up to $75 per month toward their internet service.

Does ACP affect taxes?

No, the ACP benefits won’t affect your taxes. The benefit comes in the form of a discount applied directly to your internet bill.

Dave Schafer
Written by
Dave Schafer
Dave has written professionally for tech companies and consumer technology sites for nearly five years, with a special focus on TV and internet. He uses his industry expertise to help readers at get the most out of their services. No matter the project, he prefers his coffee black (the stronger, the better).