How To Get Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Benefits

Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)

Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a USA government initiative to provide the broadband internet service required for work, school, healthcare and more to the families in financial stress. The ACP program also assists in purchasing connected devices like laptops, tablet pcs, and smartphones. Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is the source of government funds to address these issues.

As technologies become more ubiquitous, there is no denying the importance of internet connectivity for job, business and many more issues of our everyday life and using these technologies certainly improve our lifestyles. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a very sudden change on our lifestyles which makes us more dependent on the internet. But due to the economic crisis created by this pandemic, many people have lost their jobs and it has been difficult for them to convey the monthly cost of mobile and internet services. So, such government initiatives like ACP or Lifeline Assistance Program are quite practical in this scenario.

ACP is a new program launched by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) on 31st December 2021. The Affordable Connectivity Program was created in the Infrastructure and Jobs Act by congress with a budget of $14.2 billion. This program is administered by The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) and replaces the temporary Emergency Broadband Benefit program.

How Do I Qualify for The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)?

The core concept of the Affordable Connectivity Program is to assist the less privileged population to get internet service and to do that, the first step would be to determine the qualified household to receive the grant. The federal poverty guidelines are an essential tool to determine such eligibility. If the annual household income is 200% or less than the Federal poverty guideline, then it is eligible for the ACP program. Below is a table to show you this 200% poverty line in dollar:

Number of person per household200 % of poverty line for 48 Contiguous States and D.C.(Annual)200 % of poverty line for Alaska200 % of poverty line for Hawaii
1$27,180$33,980$31,260
2$36,620$45,780$421,200
3$46,060$57,580$52,980
4$55,500$69,380$63,840
5$64,940$81,180$74,700
6$74,380$92,980$85,560
7$83,820$104,780$96,420
8$93,260$116,580$107,280
For each person over 8, add extra$9,440$11,800$10,860

To give you an example, let us consider a household of two members which have a total income less than or equal to $36,620. This household will be qualified for ACP program benefits. However, the household income here includes salary, public assistance benefits, social security payments, pensions, unemployment compensation, veteran’s benefits, inheritances, alimony, child support payments, worker’s compensation benefits, gifts, and lottery winnings of the mature members of the household collectively.

At this point, defining a household is important to clear up any confusion. According to the poverty guideline definition, “A household is a group of people who live together and share income and expenses (even if they are not related to each other)”. It is also compulsory that all the members of the household share the address as their residence. Otherwise, it will be considered as multiple households. Some common scenarios for a single household would be, a married couple living together, or a parent/guardian living with a child or an adult living with friends who share incomes.

Now, multiple households represent individuals who live together but do not share their income. For example, if 3 persons are sharing a flat but they don’t share earnings are entitled for 3 different ACP accounts and benefits. Same is true for senior citizens living in an assisted-living home where each one will be able to participate in the program individually.

Apart from your annual income, if you have already gotten benefits from different federal aid programs like 

In this case, your annual income status will be ignored. Besides, a child or a dependent receiving Pell Grant can apply for ACP. A student qualified for Pell Grant and lives alone is a different household than his or her parents is eligible for the ACP program. His or her parents will also be eligible for their own ACP benefits.

For Tribal territories, The amount of ACP grant is different. But the selection criteria remains almost the same. The residents of tribal land will qualify for the ACP program if:

  • The annual income of the household is below 200% of the federal poverty guideline as discussed earlier
  • Participating in the government aid programs listed above
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Head start (only the household meeting the income standard)
  • Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
  • Food distribution program on Indian reservations

To learn more, go to this URL – https://www.affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/ACP-Toolkit-Web-with-Links.pdf

What Documents are Required When I Apply for Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Benefits?

To prove the legitimacy of the applicant’s claim, the applicants of the ACP program have to submit a number of official documents along with their applications. Those documents serve different purposes. Here is a list of the documents required for different purposes:

To prove that you have participated in any of the above-mentioned government aid programs, you have to submit

  • Benefit award letter
  • Approval letter
  • Statement of benefits
  • Benefit verification letter
  • School documentation

Anyone of these documents will suffice. But the document has to be issued within the last 12 months of the application date or future expiration date. Also, it must include the first and last name of yours or your dependent’s, the name of the program and the name of the administrative body who issued the letter.

Proof of household income

  • Prior year’s state, federal, or Tribal tax return
  • Current income statement from your employer or a paycheck stub
  • A Social Security statement of benefits
  • Veterans Administration statement of benefits
  • Unemployment or Worker’s Compensation statement of benefits
  • Divorce decree, child support award, or a similar official document showing your income
  • A retirement/pension statement of benefits

The document can’t be older than 12 months, and your full name and annual income have to be mentioned explicitly.

Proof of personal identity

  • Valid government, military, state or Tribal ID
  • Birth Certificate
  • U.S. Driver’s license
  • Passport
  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship or Naturalization
  • Permanent Resident Card or Green Card
  • Government assistance program document
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) document (does not need to include date of birth)

The document must include your full name and date of birth (not needed for ITIN)

Proof of address

  • Driver’s license or other valid government, state, or Tribal ID
  • Utility bill
  • Mortgage or lease statement
  • Most recent W-2 or tax return

You can also send a map that clearly shows your physical address or location, including latitude and longitude coordinates (coordinates are required if you live on Tribal lands) with the written copy of your application via mail. For applying online, use the built-in mapping tool to help USAC find your address.

  • In case of duplicate address, meaning if someone from your household already participated in ACP program, you must provide a completed form with your application. For online application, an editable form will appear in the application process.
  • Documents required for the emancipated minor
    • Court documents
    • Certification of emancipation

You must have to be 18 years or older to apply for the ACP program unless you are an emancipated minor.

How to Apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)

There are three ways you can apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program:

  1. Online application process: This is the easiest and most convenient way to apply for the ACP program from the comfort of your home and it will require some typing and a few clicks. To apply online, you have to fill up your information in this address to begin with. You have to fill up all the fields in the form with relevant information and upload the documents as a proof of your claim.
  2. Mailing your application via postal service: First, you have to download the cover letter from here and attach a copy of the filled cover form (not the original one) along with a copy of the other documents. Never send the original copy of any document or certificate with the application. Then send the mail to the following address ( ACP Support Center , P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742 )
  3. Application through your existing ISP: Most of the major internet service providers (ISP) are partners with the FCC to make the ACP program accessible for the general population. The webpages of the ISPs also have options to apply online for the ACP program. You can also visit a service center the ISP in your locality and file an application manually.

If you apply online, there is a chance that you will get an instant reply. Sometimes, there can be some issues to verify your documents and you will be asked to provide more supporting documents and it will take some more time to process the application.

What Are The Benefits I Get After Qualifying For The ACP Program

If you are qualified for the ACP program, you will get a discount for your monthly internet bill and for purchasing tablet pc, desktop or laptop computer. The amount of this discount is:

  • Up to a $30/month discount on your internet service
  • A $100 one-time discount for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer
  • The tribal land inhabitants will get $75/month discount on monthly internet bill

There is another government program out of the jurisdiction of FCC, which may provide additional no-cost plans to Affordable Connectivity Program enrollees. For further queries, visit https://www.whitehouse.gov/getinternet/.

Can I Transfer My Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Benefits to Others?

You can transfer your ACP benefits and discounted devices to others. However, you have to provide consent to the fact that you want to transfer the benefits and you will lose any ACP benefits from a previous provider along with your date of birth.

Who is Not Eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)?

Affordable Connectivity Program benefits are available to only one adult person of a household. So, if you are an adult, living and sharing the income with another adult, you are not eligible for the program. Besides, you must have to live in a house to receive the benefits and bills for every month. Many people who are qualified for the ACP program can’t get the benefits as they are homeless. 

How Do I Transfer My EBB Benefit to ACP if I am Already Receiving EBB?

EBB program has been obsolete from 31st December, 2021. But the EBB program enrollees were supposed to get the benefits until 1st March ,2022. Within this transition period, the participants were informed about their actions required to shaft from EBB to ACP program.

How Does the ACP Protect Consumers?

FCC is very keen to protect the consumer who enrolled for the ACP interest. To accomplish that, several strategies are adopted by FCC, such as

  • Providing options to the customers to choose their own service plan to meet their requirement best.
  • Despite of their credit status, the customers will get broadband internet service
  • Allowing customers with prior debt or past due balances to enroll in the program
  • Preventing consumers to be forced to get expensive and low quality plan
  • Prohibiting any early early termination fee
  • Reducing any chances for a sudden unforeseen bill or other financial damages
  • Providing options for switching the current ISP without any additional charge
  • Dedicated complaint processing facilities

How to Cancel Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Benefits?

You have to consult with your ISP about the cancellation process of your ACP program. Some ISPs may charge a penalty fee for early cancellation of the program. But if you wish to switch from your current ISP to another, then you can do it without any extra cost.

Can I Apply for Multiple Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Discounts?

Multiple applications for ACP from a single individual is not acceptable. One ACP enrollee from one household is the ACP program’s policy. The term “household” stands for a residential facility where the residents share their incomes. If some people live in the same premises but don’t share their income, it won’t be considered as a single household and everyone can apply for ACP if they are individually qualified for the program. 

How is the ACP Different from the EBB?

Basically, EBB and ACP programs are aimed to solve the common issue of providing support for broadband internet connectivity for low income families. However, there are some minute differences like the governing body, amount of discount, poverty threshold and some other criteria.

The EBB program allowed households with incomes of 135% or less of the federal poverty level but for the ACP program, this level is 200% which is an improvement from the EBB program and more people will be able to participate in the ACP program. However, the amount of discount is less in the ACP program than that of the EBB program. The EBB program granted a $50 percent discount for monthly broadband internet bill where it is $30 for the ACP program.

How Long will Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Last?

The ACP program will expire naturally if the current budget of $14.2 billion is spent entirely. But it depends on the political leaders in the congress whether it will run that long. If the effectiveness and outcome are not satisfactory, it might be terminated early.

What if My Internet Bill is Less than My ACP Credit?

If your current internet bill is less than $30 which is the discount you get from ACP program, you will get free broadband service for your household. The government is teamed up with the major ISPs of the country trying to reduce the overall internet charge. About 20 ISPs have already committed to offer plans with a minimum of 100 megabits-per-second download speeds for $30 or less. So, the ACP enrollee will get high speed internet free of cost.

  • What are internet essentials?
  • I am receiving the ACP credit and changing internet tiers,does this benefits still apply?

If you switch from one broadband plan to another with the same ISP, you will still get the ACP benefits. If the monthly charge is more than $30 for the plan you choose, you will get a $30 reduction in the bill per month. And if it is less than $30, you will get a full waiver. 

Can My ACP Credits be Transferred between Service Providers?

If you change your ISP and you are an ACP beneficiary, your credit will be automatically transferred to the current ISP. The ISP is responsible to perform a transfer transaction in NLAD to enroll the consumer with their company, the customer doesn’t have to do anything.

What Happens if the End Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)?

There is no clear indication in the current law about what will happen if the current budget of $14.2 billion is spent entirely. The program is likely to expire if the fund is spent and a new fund is not allocated to the program. However, this is nothing to be worried about, because there is a high possibility that a new program will be launched as we have witnessed in the case of the EBB program. The ACP program was launched when the EBB program expired.

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