AFFORDABLE CONNECTIVITY PROGRAM

Help Topics

These are some commonly asked questions about the Affordable Connectivity Program for community organizations and trusted institutions working to help households navigate the Affordable Connectivity Program. 

ACP Overview FAQs

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) helps families connect to the Internet from home by providing a monthly benefit to help pay for an internet service plan. The ACP is a long-term $14 billion program of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The ACP began December 31, 2021, replacing the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) (a temporary program tied to the pandemic).

A discount of up to $30 a month for broadband service ($75 for households on Tribal lands), as well as a one-time discount of $100, with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50, toward the purchase of a connected device (laptop, desktop or tablet) through a participating provider.

Can a household receive more than one discount? The Affordable Connectivity Program is limited to one monthly service discount and a one-time connected device discount per eligible household.

The ACP will continue until funds run out (currently there are enough funds to support the program for an estimated five years, and that is before any additional funding is added). The ACP is therefore considered a long-term benefit.

ACP Enrollment Process FAQs

There are three options to enroll:

 

  1. Online at ACPBenefit.org (National Verifier) 

 

  1. Mail in an application (English or Spanish) and return it along with proof of eligibility to: ACP Support Center, P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742


  • Contact a participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process. For a full list of participating providers see: acpbenefit.org/companies-near-me/

 

(Note only certain providers have been approved by the FCC to use an alternate application process and to enroll households directly, so most will need to apply via the National Verifier).

ACP Qualification & Eligibility FAQs

A member of a household only has to meet one of the criteria, such as income at 200% of the federal poverty level, participation in a government assistance program, such as Medicaid or SNAP, or through a dependent who is on free and reduced lunch or who attends a school that participates in the Community Eligibility Provision. For more information see ACP Eligibility Qualifications.

Participation in Lifeline 

Income Eligibility

  • 200% of the federal poverty guidelines

Participation in one of the following government assistance programs:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance 
  • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

Participation in Free and Reduced Price School Meal program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)

Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current academic year

Tribal specific programs: 

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Head Start (only households meeting the income qualifying standard)
  • Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families 
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations

200% of the federal poverty level:

  • Family of 1: $25,760
  • Family of 2: $34,840
  • Family of 3: $43,920
  • Family of 4: $53,000

Family of 5: $62,080

The household may have to provide documents to demonstrate eligibility depending on the criterion they choose during the application process. Acceptable documents to show income include: 

 

  • 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

 

Acceptable documents to show participation in a qualifying government program include: 

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

If the household is qualifying through a dependent, for instance, if the student participates in the free or reduced lunch or breakfast program, or if their school participates in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), the family will need to provide documentation showing the student’s enrollment in the qualifying year, such as a report card or an official school document that states the school name, student’s name, and school year. Districts may want to prepare a letter for families confirming their student’s enrollment. The family may also provide an eligibility letter for the free or reduced lunch or breakfast program.

It depends. If an applicant is paid under the table but has an ITIN, they can use that to verify their identity. Otherwise, the best route to take would be to qualify under one of the other criteria. For instance, if the participant is enrolled in one of the federal programs (i.e. SNAP or Medicaid), we recommend the applicant qualify using that. Another option would be to apply through someone else in the household who qualifies, such as a student who attends a CEP school.

Generally, no. Undocumented immigrants, including DACA holders, are ineligible to receive most federal public benefits. However, ACP does not take into account one’s immigration status, meaning undocumented immigrants can receive this benefit. Undocumented immigrants may be eligible for a handful of benefits that are deemed necessary to protect life or guarantee safety in dire situations, such as healthcare and nutrition programs under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). If an undocumented immigrant receives WIC, they can use that as proof of eligibility. (source)

Only immigrants with lawful permanent resident (LPR) status may apply for federal benefit programs, but not until they have resided as a legal resident for five years, also known as the “five-year bar”. Certain categories of immigrants- specifically Cuban/Haitian/and certain Amerasian immigrants, refugees, people granted asylum or withholding of deportation/removal, and victims of human trafficking or domestic violence- are exempt from the five-year bar and have the same eligibility requirements for federal benefits as LPRs. Individuals on non-immigrant and temporary visa holders are ineligible for benefits. However, ACP does not abide by the five-year bar; if you qualify, you may apply. (source 1, source 2)

All American citizen children, regardless of their parents citizenship status, can receive federal benefits if they meet eligibility requirements without penalty. However, the child’s eligibility does not change their parents’ or any other family members’ (in)eligibility for that benefit. If a mixed-status family only has underage children, the application will still have to be completed by the parent. (source)

If the applicant has an underage child, regardless of immigration status of that child, enrolled in Free or Reduced Lunch or attends a CEP (Community Eligibility Provision) school, the household may qualify through that child.

If the applicant has an adult dependent who is a U.S. citizen, the dependent must qualify through the same eligibility requirements of ACP. Remind applicants that, if the dependent receives a Federal Pell Grant, this would qualify their dependent for the ACP. Unfortunately, undocumented dependents above the age of 18 face the same barriers as the original applicant.

ACP Qualification & Eligibility FAQs for Schools

The household will need to reapply if the way they were eligible was through a dependent. If the dependent is still attending a CEP school or is eligible for the free and reduced meal program at another school, then they will need to reapply and show their child is receiving that benefit at the new school.

A member of a household only has to meet one of the criteria, such as income at 200% of the federal poverty level, participation in a government assistance program, such as Medicaid or SNAP, or through a dependent who is on free and reduced lunch or who attends a school that participates in the Community Eligibility Provision. For more information see ACP Eligibility Qualifications.

The household should apply using the information of their youngest school-aged child / dependent as this will ensure they are eligible through the free and reduced meal program or the CEP for the longest period of time.

ACP Identification FAQs

Households may need to have some sort of documentation - the last four digits of a social security number is generally easiest and fastest but other forms of identity such as a driver’s license are fine.

If they decide to qualify through their student or dependent, the applicant will also need to provide identification for their student/dependent, such as the last four digits of their Social Security number. Examples of documents are below. For more information, see here.

  • A 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 the date of birth)

 

The USAC website does not specify that the identification documents must be from the US. Through ESH’s enrollment support, we have seen that foreign passports and IDs are eligible, but they must be current and up-to-date.. Specifically, applicants may use their consular ID or foreign passport number in the application. (source)

The various documents that can fulfill the ACP’s identity verification requirement for applicants who are undocumented are: Driver’s License, Passport, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), or other Government ID.

  • Driver’s License: Sixteen states and Washington D.C. do not require proof of citizenship to hold a driver’s license. (source)
  • Passport (Up-to-date foreign passports and IDs)
  • Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) 

Other U.S. Government ID: For applicants who cannot drive, they may have a state or municipal ID if offered in their area.

To qualify through an underage (below 18) dependent:

  • An adult will still need to complete the application and verify their own identity. They can then use the dependent’s SSN to verify the child’s identity.

To qualify through an adult (18 and above) dependent:

  • The dependent can apply for the ACP themselves and use their benefit for their family’s plan.

To qualify through an underage (below 18) dependent:

  • An adult will still need to complete the application. If the adult successfully verifies their identity, they will then need to verify the identity of their dependent. As the dependent does not have a SSN, we have found that the applicant may use a school ID to verify their dependent’s identity.

Undocumented dependents above the age of 18 face the same barriers as the applicant and may use the other troubleshooting steps if they wish to apply.

Accents, cedillas, or other diacritics should not be included when applying to the ACP. This can create an error message in the system.

If an applicant’s name on their application does not match the name on their form of identification (such as only listing one last name, using a nickname, or not including your middle name or second last name), they may continue to be rejected by the FCC. We recommend for the applicant to use a different email address and redo their application with their full name.

ACP Internet Provider FAQs

Eligible households are able to sign-up for any internet service plan provided by a participating Internet service provider, including those that they may already be participating in.

Credit checks are prohibited as a condition of household participation in a service plan. Service providers are also prohibited from up or down-selling customers on any plans. They also cannot conduct a credit check or make them sign a contract. (source)

Eligible households cannot be excluded based on prior debt with a participating provider. However, if families have non-payment for 90 days (from the bills’ due date(s) after enrolling and participating in ACP), the family can be de-enrolled as long as the Internet service provider gives notice after 30 and 60 days. Re-enrollment with the same service provider after de-enrollment is up to the service provider. (source)

No. It cannot be applied to cable, data overage charges, or other non-Internet products or equipment.

Consumers can change to a different participating provider at any time. They are not locked into the company that they first enrolled within the program. However, the device discount can only be used once per eligible household, even if the household changes providers. (source)

Yes! As the ACP can be applied to any plan, the consumer can choose whichever plan they wish to apply the benefit. If they qualify for the ACP, they complete the online application, receive approval, and then contact the provider that they wish to apply their benefit to their current plan.

Troubleshooting Enrollment Roadblocks

Yes. Once an account is created, the applicant can save the application and then log back into their account.

The username may have already been used by another applicant and this does not necessarily mean that someone has applied in their name. Have the applicant try or create a different username.

Families can choose to find a plan that supports mobile internet. By using the Companies Near Me Tool, families can search for providers listed as “ACP Mobile.”

Ask if there is a family member or someone else available that can help them walk through the process together.

Ask if another family member has an email account that can be used. If this is not possible, ask for follow-up information and we can both provide this how-to but also walk them through setting up an email account.

This system error occurs in certain states, such as California. Try to refresh the server, or click out the tab to start over.

ACP Fees and Benefit

Taxes and fees are part of the amount charged to a consumer so they are included in the ACP reimbursement, instead of consumers receiving small bills for taxes and fees alone. Therefore, the household should be sure to clarify if there will be any remaining portion they are responsible for, if the cost is hovering around the $30 price point. If the family chooses an internet service plan that is more than $30 per month, they will be responsible for the difference . For example, if the service plan is $60 per month, the ACP will cover $30, and the consumer would be responsible for the rest.

Credit checks are prohibited as a condition of household participation in a service plan. Service providers are also prohibited from up or down-selling customers on any plans. They also cannot conduct a credit check or make them sign a contract. (source)

No - the benefit is not a direct-to-consumer benefit. It is a discount off the monthly service bill and/or device. The internet service provider will receive reimbursement directly from the FCC program.

Additional Support for Households

If families have any questions or need assistance, they can contact the ACP Support Center of the Universal Service Administrative Co, who administers the ACP on behalf of the FCC via:

  • Email: ACPSupport@usac.org               
  • Phone: (877) 384-2575, seven days a week, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET

Other Common ACP Questions

If a household moves and obtains a new address, they do not need to reapply for the ACP benefit. You can update this information in your National Verifier account. You can still use your account number to update your ISP or move to a new ISP.

No. Applying for ACP or receiving ACP benefits  will not jeopardize anyone’s ability to obtain a green card or sponsor a family member under the public charge test, as it is not considered in the test. (source)

The FCC recognizes that more than one economic household can reside at the same address, such as shelters for unhoused individuals. Unhoused individuals may therefore enroll using the address of the shelter they reside (source). They may need to submit a household worksheet to specify that they do not share income with someone already enrolled in ACP within the shelter.

From a phone call on 4/19 with the ACP Support Line, we were also informed unhoused individuals may list ‘123 Homeless’ as their address on the enrollment form.

Yes! In fact, qualifying for Lifeline makes you automatically eligible for the ACP. You can use both benefits with the same service provider, or use the benefits with different service providers.(source)

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