How to Get Free Government Lifeline Internet

Lifeline is an FCC (Federal Communications Commission) program started in 1985. The program aimed to make communications services affordable for low-income consumers in the United States. Usually, FCC works with various telecommunication companies to offer Lifeline services. Beneficiaries can get discounts on monthly phone services from their service providers. Again, subscribers can buy discounted broadband from their service providers. We shall check how you can get free government Lifeline internetshortly.

Lifeline service provides a monthly discount service of $9.25 for eligible low-income consumers. Also, subscribers may get a Lifeline discount on a wireless or wireline service. You must understand that you cannot simultaneously receive a discount on wired and wireless services. Therefore, you must choose one service to benefit. Lifeline also supports both broadband and broadband-voice services.

The benefit is available to qualifying low-income consumers in every part of the United States. That means eligible consumers from every state, commonwealth, territory, and Tribal Lands can benefit, and FCC does not allow more than one Lifeline benefit per household. If that happens, you may be disqualified and face the law for being dishonest. You cannot transfer the service to someone else even if they qualify. They should apply on their own.

How to qualify for Lifeline

Suppose you want to participate in the program. In that case, you must have an income at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines. Such people find it very difficult to afford basic things such as food, clothing, and shelter. Since they still need to stay connected with the rest of the world, the government saw the need to have such people access affordable communication services.

You can also qualify through government aid programs. The government offers various assistance programs which include Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, and the Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit.

Also, you can qualify through specific Tribal Programs, which include the following.

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
  • Tribal Head Start (income-based)
  • Tribal TANF

As a beneficiary living on Tribal lands, you can get a discount of up to $34.25 per month and up to a $100 reduction for first-time connection charges. The discount will cater to reduced internet costs, voice calls, and minutes. You can check if you qualify by reviewing the details available at lifeline support by clicking “Do I Qualify?”

What are Tribal Lands

Tribal Lands include federally recognized Indian tribes’ reservations, pueblo, or colonies, such as the former reservations in Alaska Native regions, Oklahoma, Hawaiian Home Lands, or Indian Allotments. Generally, they include the following.

  • Each federally recognized Indian tribe’s reservation, pueblo, or colony
  • Former reservations in Oklahoma
  • Adopted Enhanced Support Area
  • Indian allotments
  • Cherokee Outlet
  • Alaska Native regions established in pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Boundaries Map
  • Hawaiian Home Lands
  • Any land approved as Tribal for Lifeline purposes by the FCC’s Office

What documents are needed to apply for Lifeline?

You may need to produce various documents when applying for Lifeline to prove that you qualify. They include the following.

i) Proof of Identification

  • Driver’s License or Passport (should be valid)
  • Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. Citizenship
  • Permanent Resident or Resident Alien Card (unexpired)
  • Birth Certificate
  • Foreign Passport

ii) Proof of program participation

  • Current or previous year’s statement of benefits from an eligible state, federal or Tribal program
  • Letter of participation in an eligible state, federal, or Tribal Program
  • Program participation documents
  • Another official document showing consumer’s participation in a qualifying benefit

iii) Proof of Address

  • Current Mortgage or Lease Statement
  • Utility Bill
  • Current Income Statement, Paycheck Stub, or W2
  • Driver’s License, Government, State, or Tribal Issued ID (unexpired)
  • Statement of Benefits from an eligible program which contains name and address

How to get free government Lifeline internet

You can get a free Lifeline internet once you qualify and apply for the service. Remember that you can apply for the service online at your service provider’s website and hitting the “Apply Now” button. By the way, you can apply online, with the assistance of a service company, or by mail.

To apply for Lifeline, you must generally use the National Verifier system. The National Verifier is a centralized body established by the FCC and run by USAC that verifies Lifeline applicants. The body checks the applicant’s eligibility and carries out annual subscriber eligibility. Suppose you want assistance from a service provider to apply for Lifeline. In that case, you can use the “Companies Near Me” tool to locate a Lifeline service provider in their area.

You must understand that California, Texas, and Oregon consumers can apply for the Lifeline benefit through their state’s existing application process. However, that excludes broadband-only consumers that should apply through the National Verifier. Suppose you have queries about your application or would like an application mailed to you. In that case, you can contact Lifeline at (800) 234-9473

Once you succeed in your application, your service provider will start offering free communication services. You will get free data for your internet services, free government smartphone, free minutes, and texts. That is how you will end up getting free internet from the government.

What are the Lifeline rules

There are various Lifeline rules that you should follow to continue enjoying the service. They include the following.

  • Lifeline is available only to eligible subscribers verified by the National Verifier application system.
  • Only one Lifeline benefit is allowed per household. If there is more than one Lifeline beneficiary in a household, they should deregister to avoid penalties.
  • As a subscriber, you must recertify your eligibility every year.

How else can you get free internet from the government

You can also get free internet from the government if you qualify and apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The program replaced the Emergency Benefit Program, a Federal Communication Commission program that was helping people affected by Covid’19 to get affordable broadband, access to affordable healthcare, jobs, and so on. When Covid’19 went down, the benefits services were terminated, and ACP was born.

The Affordable Connectivity Program helps to ensure that low-income households can afford the broadband they require for work, school, healthcare, and more. The benefit provides a discount of at most $30 per month for internet service for qualifying households and at most $75 per month for beneficiaries on qualifying Tribal lands.

Qualifying households can get a one-time discount of at most $100 to buy a desktop computer, laptop, or tablet from participating service providers. They should contribute at least $10 and at most $50 toward the buying price to benefit from the discount.

Like Lifeline, the Affordable Connectivity Program is strictly a monthly service discount plus one device discount per household.

Who qualifies for the ACP program

A household qualifies for the ACP program if the gross income is at 200% or below the Federal Poverty Guidelines. That is far much higher than that of the Lifeline service. You can also qualify if you or a household member meets the criteria below.

  • Received a Federal Pell Grant within the current award year.
  • Meets the eligibility process for a participating provider’s low-income internet program.
  • Participates in any of the following benefit programs:
    • The School Breakfast Program
    • The National School Lunch Program
    • Medicaid
    • SNAP
    • Federal Public Housing Assistance
    • WIC
    • Veterans Pension or Survivor Benefits
    • Lifeline
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Participates in one of the above assistance programs, resides on Qualifying Tribal lands, and benefits from any of the following aid programs.
    • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
    • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
    • Tribal Head Start
    • Tribal TANF

How do you apply for ACP

Once you find out that you qualify for the benefits program, you can apply. You can visit and submit your application or print out a mail-in application. Next, you can contact your most preferred service provider and choose a plan to have the discount applied to your monthly bill.

Alternatively, you can apply at the website of your most preferred service provider as long as they participate in the Lifeline Program. Once you start benefiting from the program, your service provider will then offer you an internet plan that you can use for your online activities.

Interestingly, some service providers offer the combination of Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program. That way, you can get comprehensive coverage. The government does not forbid applying for both Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program. That means you can benefit from ACP even if you have an active Lifeline account. Remember that Lifeline is one of the programs that can qualify you for the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Bottom line

Lifeline is an FCC (Federal Communications Commission) program started in 1985. The program aimed to make communications services affordable for low-income consumers in the United States. You can qualify for the Lifeline service through income, whereby your household should have a gross income at or below 135%.

You can also qualify through other programs such as Medicaid, SNAP, or Federal Public Housing Assistance. Lifeline also qualifies you for ACP, another benefit program from the government.