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By JIM MILLER
(SAVVY SENIOR) Two resources are available that can help you save money on your home internet services, but what’s available to you will depend on your income level and where you live. Here’s where to begin.
Depending on your financial situation, a good first step to reducing your home internet costs is through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). This is a federal benefit program that provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on tribal lands.
Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute $10 to $50 toward the purchase price.
To qualify, you’ll need to show your annual household income is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, which is $27,180 for one person or $36,620 for two.
You may also qualify if you’re receiving certain types of government benefits — Medicaid, food stamps (SNAP), SSI, public housing assistance, veterans’ pension or survivors pension benefit, or if you live on federally recognized tribal lands.
To apply, go www.affordableconnectivity.gov, where you can apply online or print out an application and mail it in.
If you’re already receiving assistance through the federal Lifeline benefi, which is a $9.25 monthly subsidy for phone or internet costs, you automatically qualify for the ACP, and you can receive both benefits at the same time. You can apply your ACP and your Lifeline benefit to the same or separate services.
If your broadband provider already has its own low-income or COVID-19 relief program, you may be able to qualify through this program as well. Talk to your broadband provider for more information.
If you’re not eligible for the ACP, another resource for locating cheaper high-speed internet is Aging Connected, which has a higher income qualification.
Created by Older Adults Technology Services from AARP (OATS) and the Humana Foundation, Aging Connected is a nationwide campaign created to help lower-income seniors find low-cost, in-home broadband options in their area.
Partnering with telecommunications companies, nonprofits, and public entities, Aging Connected will help you search for services in your area that provide high-speed internet at a very low cost. Most participating companies charge around $10 to $15 per month, with no contract or equipment fee.
Aging Connected also provides referrals to affordable desktop and laptop computers for under $160.
To search and find out if you’re qualified, go to AgingConnected.org, and type in your ZIP code, name, and email address, or you can call 877-745-1930.
Other Search Options
If you find you’re not eligible for either of the previously listed resources, you may still be able to save on your internet by shopping and comparing. The best way to do this is at websites like InMyArea.com and BroadbandNow.com, both of which provide a list of internet providers in your area, along with pricing and download speeds. MSN
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of The Savvy Senior.