Guide To Internet Plans For Low And Fixed-Income Households

Find out if you or a member of your household qualify for a discount on internet, free computers, and resources to stay connected at home.

This guide will help low-income households:

  • Apply for low-income internet service.
  • Borrow a WIFi hotspot from local libraries.
  • Qualify for free or discounted computers, mobile plans and phones.

How to get a low-income discount on internet

There are several different programs that allow low-income and fixed-income households to receive discounted internet and computers. Find out if you or a member of your household qualify.

Qualify for Lifeline government assistance

1. Do you qualify for a government internet service discount based on your income?

You may be eligible for a Lifeline Program discount from your internet service provider if your household income is less than the guidelines below:

Household Size48 Contiguous States & D.C.AlaskaHawaii
1$16,862 or less$21,060 or less$19,413 or less
2$22,829 or less$28,526 or less$26,271 or less
3$28,796 or less$35,991 or less$33,129 or less
4$34,763 or less$43,457 or less$39,987 or less
5$40,730 or less$50,992 or less$46,845 or less
6$46,697 or less$58,388 or less$53,703 or less
7$52,664 or less$65,853 or less$60,561 or less
8$58,631 or less$73,319 or less$67,419
For each additional person add$5,967$7,466$6,858

*Prices and speeds may vary depending on your location.

2. Do you currently receive any of the following:

    a. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), food stamps, EBT
    b. Medicaid
    c. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    d. Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
    e. Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
    f. Tribal-specific programs
            Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
            Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
            Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
            Head Start

If you answered “yes” to either of the questions above, you may qualify for a Lifeline Program discount.

What is Lifeline?
Lifeline is the FCC’s program that helps provide affordable communication services. Lifeline helps low-income seniors, veterans and households offset the cost of internet by providing a discount towards their bill.

How much of a discount will I get through Lifeline?
Eligible Lifeline customers will save at least $9.25 off their monthly internet bill or phone bill, but not both. Only one Lifeline discount can be applied per household.

Choose a low-income internet provider

You can use your Lifeline discount towards a participating internet service provider. Many other providers also offer their own low-income assistance programs instead of Lifeline. You may need to meet similar income requirements or participate in government assistance programs to qualify for these provider low-income internet programs.

ProviderStarting Price*Speeds*Qualifying Programs
AT&T Access$5-10/monthUp to 10 MbpsSNAP
Cox Connect2Compete$9.95/monthUp to 25 MbpsNSLP, SNAP, TANF, HUD
Frontier Lifeline Program$10.74/monthUp to 6 MbpsLifeline
Mediacom Connect2Compete$9.95/monthUp to 10 MbpsNSLP
RCN Lifeline Program$20.74/monthUp to 50 MbpsLifeline
Spectrum Internet Assist$15/monthUp to 30 MbpsNSLP, SSI
Windstream Lifeline Program$10.74/monthUp to 4 MbpsLifeline
Xfinity Internet Essentials$9.95/monthUp to 15 MbpsNSLP, HUD, Pell Grant, veteran government assistance, seniors on Medicaid, persons with disability

*Prices and speeds may vary depending on your location.

If a low-income discount is available from a provider through Lifeline, you can request an application through the internet provider. You may also be required to show proof of your income or that you participate through one of Lifeline’s qualifying programs. The internet company will then process the application on your behalf. If approved, your Lifeline discount will be applied towards your internet bill.

Access from AT&T
AT&T offers affordable internet service starting at $5-10/month for qualifying low-income households. The price will depend on where you live and the fastest speed available. You will either be paying $5/month for speeds up to 3 Mbps or $10/mo for speeds up to 10 Mbps. Those that qualify for AT&T’s low-income internet program don’t have to sign a contract or put down a deposit. Installation and internet modem are also included at no extra cost.

To qualify, households must have at least one resident who participates in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), have an address within AT&T’s service areas, and not have any outstanding debt owed to AT&T within the last 6 months. California households can also qualify if one member of the households receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Cox Connect2Compete
Cox provides low-cost home internet starting at $9.95/month for speeds up to 25 Mbps to low-income households with K-12 children. Through the Cox Connect2Compete program, participants will receive one WiFi modem included and don’t have to sign an annual contract.

To qualify, households must have a K-12 child that participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Tenant-Based Vouchers (TANF), or Section 8 and other Public Housing (HUD).

Frontier Lifeline
Low-income families can get a discount from Frontier if they qualify through the government Lifeline program. With the government discount, Frontier Lifeline internet plans start at just $10.74/month on standalone internet service. Prices and speeds will vary by location. You can also use your Lifeline discount on standalone phone service from Frontier, but not both phone and internet services.

Mediacom Connect2Compete
Mediacom provides affordable internet to low-income families with children in grade K-12. For $9.95/month, qualifying households will get internet with speeds up to 10 Mbps without having to put down a deposit, sign a contract, or pay installation fees. A WiFi modem is also included at no extra cost.

To qualify, a member of the household must be a K-12 student that participates in the free or reduced school lunch program through NSLP.

RCN Lifeline
At this time, RCN only accepts the Lifeline discount for their phone services.

Spectrum Internet Assist
Spectrum offers low-cost internet starting at $14.99/month. You can add in-home WiFi for $5 more per month. With Spectrum Internet Assist, low-income households will get high-speed internet with speeds up to 30 Mbps, unlimited data, and an internet modem included. 

To qualify for Spectrum Internet Assist, a member of the household must be a recipient of either the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the NSLP, or Supplementary Security Income (SSI) for those ages 65 and older.

Windstream Lifeline
Windstream accepts the federal Lifeline discount for low-income families. The Lifeline discount can be applied to either their phone or internet service (must choose one). Households residing in federally recognized tribal lands may also receive additional discounts.

Xfinity Internet Essentials
Starting at $9.95/month, qualifying low-income households will receive internet with speeds up to 15 Mbps with in-home WiFi included. Contracts, credit checks, and installation fees are not required. In addition to WiFi at home, customers will also get access up to 40 hours of Xfinity’s nationwide WiFi hotspots every 30 days. Xfinity also offers low-cost computers which families can purchase a laptop or desktop for $149. Discounted computers will also include Microsoft Office, Norton Security Suite, and a 90-day warranty.

Those that participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Housing Assistance (HUD), Medicaid, SNAP, SSI, and low-income veterans and seniors may qualify for Xfinity Internet Essentials.

Other ways to save money on internet costs
If you don't qualify for any of the programs above or none of the providers are available in your area, you can still explore other methods to cut down costs of your internet bill. One option is to buy your own internet modem so that you're not charged a monthly equipment rental fee for eligible providers. Another option is to borrow a WiFi hotspot from your local library or rely on free-public WiFi. Organizations like PCs for People helps low-income families receive affordable internet through a WiFi hotspot.

PCs for People
Call: 651-354-2552 — pcsforpeople.org
You can buy a low-cost WiFi hotspot for as low as $11.25/month. The 4G LTE hotspot comes with unlimited data and speeds won’t be throttled. There are no credit checks or hidden fees. The only setback is that this plan requires your hotspot device to be costs $96 upfront for the device.

Qualify for a free computer

There are many organizations that may be able to provide a free computer to students of low-income families. 

Computers for Kids
Call: 434-817-1121 or Text: 434-214-0153 — computers4kids.net
C4K offers free computers to K-12 students that receive government assistance.

The On It Foundation
Call: 305-244-6454 — theonitfoundation.org
This organization provides free computers to K-12 students that participate in free or reduced school lunch programs.

Computers with Causes
Call: 888-228-7320 — computerswithcauses.org
An organization that donates computers to K-12 students, foster children, and disabled veterans in need.

Check out a WiFi hotspot from your local library 

Many public libraries are now offering WiFi hotspots that can be checked out for a period of time. This is a great option for those that lack internet service at home to get free WiFi. These WiFi hotspot devices are also portable, so you can access the internet while you’re out by connecting your phone, tablet, or computer to the hotspot. Public libraries usually allow patrons to borrow a WiFi hotspot for 2-3 weeks at a time, without the option to renew. This usually means the borrower needs to return the hotspot and can only check it out again if there are no other patrons on the waiting list. WiFi hotspots from the local library are a great option for those who don’t want to sign a contract with a provider and only need to use the internet for a short period of time.

Here are some public libraries in major cities and states that offer WiFi hotspots to library patrons:

Los Angeles, CA
Cahuenga Branch Library
Mark Twain Branch Library
Pacoima Branch Library

Chicago, IL
Austin Branch Library*
Brighton Park Library*
Canaryville Branch Library*
Daley, Richard M.-W Humboldt Branch Library*
Douglass Branch Library*
Galewood-Mont Clare Branch Library
Greater Grand Crossing Library*
Legler Branch Library*
North Pulaski Branch Library*
Sherman Park Branch Library
Vodak-East Side Branch Library*
West Lawn Branch Library
Woodson Regional Branch Library*
*These libraries also let you check out a Chromebook Kit that includes a WiFi hotspot and a Chromebook laptop.

New Jersey
Glen Ridge Public Library
Montclair Public Library

New York City, New York
The following public libraries have teamed up with ConnectED Library Hotspot Loan Program to provide free internet access to K-12 students for the entire school year.
The New York Public Library
Brooklyn Public Library
Queens Public Library

Reach out to local organizations

There are many organizations and nonprofits that help close the digital divide by providing free or discounted internet service and computers.

ConnectHome

Call: 202-708-1112 — connecthome.hud.gov
Free or low-cost internet service and resources are provided by ConnectHome to those living in HUD-assisted housing in 55 cities across the nation.

Computers for Kids
Call: 434-817-1121 or Text: 434-214-0153 — computers4kids.net
This organization provides low-cost computers for K-12 students. Desktops cost $65, and laptops are available for $130 to students in grades 9-12. College students are also eligible for $185 desktops or a laptop for $250 with a valid student ID.

InterConnection - Seattle and Kenmore, Washington
Call: 206-633-1517 — interconnection.org
InterConnection retail stores strive to donate over 400 computers and laptops to low-income families each month. This retailer also provides affordable computer repair and services.

School2Home - California
Call: Northern California 415-744-2383, Southern California 213-443-9952 — school2home.org
School2Home helps provide low-cost internet and free Chromebooks to low-performing middle schools in California. Internet options are as low as $10-15 a month.

Qualify for free mobile service and phones

In general, low and fixed income families who already receive government assistance can qualify for free mobile service and  phones.

Assurance Wireless
Free Android phone, monthly data, unlimited texts, and monthly minutes for qualifying Lifeline households. Offers and data allowances will vary by state.

Reachout Wireless
Free phone, limited cell phone service, monthly minutes, unlimited access to 911 and an Android phone for qualifying Lifeline households. There are no contracts, no deposits, and no bills.

SafeLink Wireless
Receive a free smartphone, 3GB of data per month, and unlimited calling and texts through SafeLink Wireless. If you use your own phone, you can get 4GB of data per month, a free SIM card, and unlimited calling and texts. SafeLink Wireless does not require any contracts. Customers must meet eligibility requirements that vary by state. Eligibility is based on meeting income guidelines or participation in state or federal support programs.

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