Consumer Reports: If you’re struggling financially you may qualify for internet access discounts

Consumer Reports

CONSUMER REPORTS — Seventy-six percent of Americans agree internet access is just as important as electricity and water, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey. 

That’s especially true for kids unexpectedly thrown into remote learning during the pandemic- like the students from Ossining, New York, just outside of New York City.

Their superintendent said he was humbled to find out 15 percent of families in his the district didn’t have broadband at home.

“That’s a significant number when you have 5,100 students,” said Ray Sanchez, Superintendent, Ossining Union Free School District.

But there is some hope. Since 64 percent of the families in Sanchez’s school district qualify for the federal free or reduced price lunch program, that means they’re also eligible for the new Emergency Broadband Benefit Program.

“I anticipate many many families being able to benefit from what’s been offered,” said Sanchez. 

So, who else is eligible for this internet discount of up to $50 a month? If you’ve lost your job or been furloughed, have an income less than or equal to 135 percent of federal poverty guidelines, use assistance programs including SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline, or if you’re a current Pell Grant recipient.

Those who qualify can also get a one-time discount of up to $100 on a laptop, desktop or tablet. First check the FCC website to see if your internet provider participates. 

There are three ways to apply — Contact your provider to learn about their application process, apply online at GetEmergencyBroadband.org, or call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application.

If you’re not eligible, Consumer Reports says there are still ways to save on your bill.

“Buying your own modem or router instead of renting one from the internet company can help save you money in the long run,” Jim Willcox said.

Just make sure the modem is compatible with your ISP first– something you can often find out on their website.

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