Easy Answers to All Your Questions…
The Emergency Broadband Benefit, or EBB, is a program established by the FCC to help families struggling with the financial fallout caused by the pandemic by connecting eligible households to jobs, healthcare services, and classrooms. (1)
But What Does the EBB do?
In the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, Congress budgeted $3.2 billion to the FCC to help low-income families pay for broadband and other devices.
This program, which begins May 12 of this year, provides a monthly discount up to $50 so struggling households can afford broadband services. Those same households may also qualify for a one-time $100 discount on the purchase of a new laptop, desktop, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 but less than $50 toward the purchase price. (2)
It should also be noted that the EBB program is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.
Why do I Need the EBB?
If your work is now done remotely or you’re looking for a new job, broadband is a vital link to the outside world. The same is true for any critical healthcare services, since most medical appointments have moved to Zoom for the foreseeable future. And not all schools have gone back to in-class learning, so this will help your homebound student keep up with his or her education.
Do I Qualify?
There are certain criteria you must meet, so here are the questions you’ll need to answer to find out if you qualify.
- Is your household at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines?
- Is any member of your household approved to receive Lifeline benefits, either through SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, Federal Public Housing Assistance, or Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefits? Even if you already participate in the Lifeline program, you can still take part in the EBB and receive both benefits. But you’ll need to talk to your participating provider to find out how to get started in the EBB discounts.
- Have you or anyone in your household suffered a substantial loss of income or outright job loss since February 29, 2020? Is your total household income for the past year at or below $99,000 (single filers) or $198,000 for joint filers? You’ll have to show proof of income, either in the form of current paystubs or your most recent tax returns. If you lost your job, you’ll probably need to show a letter of termination or furlough notice.
- Does your household participate in one of the Tribal Specific Programs? This would include the Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal Head Start, Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations? You may need to present a card or letter that proves you take part in any of these programs when you apply for your EBB.
- Have you or anyone in your household received a Pell Grant in the current award year? (3)
Any member of your household can actually make you eligible for the program. For instance, if your child participates in the Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program, you automatically qualify to take part in the EBB.
Where do I Sign Up?
Beginning May 12, 2021, eligible households can enroll in the program to begin receiving a monthly discount on the cost of their broadband service through an approved provider. You can enroll through your provider, if they’re approved, or by visiting https://getemergencybroadband.org.
If you have more questions, check out the Broadband Benefit Consumer FAQ page.