Sep 12, 2023

Plans available to help Kansans unable to pay for phone, internet services stay connected

Posted Sep 12, 2023 4:50 PM
Photo by Pixabay
Photo by Pixabay

Kansas Corporation Commission

TOPEKA – The start of a new school year is an expensive time for families. If you are struggling to pay for phone and internet services, there are programs to help you stay connected.

During Digital Connectivity and Lifeline Awareness Week, the Kansas Corporation Commission joins utility regulators nationwide in encouraging those in need of assistance to apply for Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program.  Both programs help low-income individuals and families stay connected so they can access health care, attend classes, find employment, and call for help in an emergency.

Lifeline provides federal and state discounts up to $17.02 per month on phone service (wireless or residential) and broadband. Seven million Americans currently benefit from the program, including approximately 30,000 Kansans.

The Federal Communication Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Plan  provides a monthly internet service discount of up to $30 and a one-time device discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer or tablet. According to FCC data, more than 20 million U.S. households are currently enrolled, including approximately 120,000 in Kansas.

Eligibility is based on income (at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for Lifeline and at or below 200% for Affordable Connectivity Plan) or participation in certain assistance programs such as:

•  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
•  Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
•  Federal Public Housing Assistance (FHPA)
•  Veterans Pensions & Survivors Pension Benefit
•  Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
•  Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
•  Head Start Tribal Programs (income based)
•  Food Distribution Program on Tribal Lands  

Anyone who qualifies for Lifeline is automatically eligible to participate in Affordable Connectivity Plan. Others may still qualify for the plan if they meet any of the following criteria:

• Are approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including the USDA Community Eligibility Provision. 
• Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year. 
• Meet the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider’s existing low-income program. 

Due to higher income maximums, Affordable Connectivity Plan also has the potential to help families that may not qualify for other types of assistance. The maximum income for a family of four to qualify for the  program is $60,000 per year compared to $40,500 for Lifeline. Both Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Plan offer additional discounts for subscribers living on tribal lands.

More information on income eligibility, participating providers, and the enrollment process is available on the KCC’s website.