Low Income Internet Options
Practically everyone uses the internet everyday. Whether for work or leisure, the internet has become a key feature of everyday life. And while the internet doesn't always come cheap, there are options out there for you to avail yourself of.
It is hard to imagine life without the internet, but for some households, internet access is too expensive. Having internet access is especially important in 2020, since the Coronavirus has resulted in so many schools and businesses shutting down. Many students and employees need an internet connection for their day to day business. There are multiple big-name internet service providers (ISPs) in the United States, including Spectrum, Comcast and CenturyLink. Many of the larger ISPs feature special discounted deals for lower income applicants. There are also several small ISPs which you may not know about that offer affordable internet plans. Detailed below are some of the best low-income internet options available in 2020.
Xfinity is one of the larger ISPs on the market, meaning it is available practically anywhere in the United States. Part of why so many households use Xfinity is the affordable price. Xfinity has several packages you can choose from, including a service plan for only $24.99 a month. This package offers 25 Mbps download speed, which is more than enough for average internet usage. If you have multiple users constantly using the internet, you can get an upgrade to 100 Mbps, with this package costing $55 a month.
If these plans are still too expensive, you may be able to qualify for the Internet Essentials plan. This plan offers the same service as the standard Xfinity package, but it only costs $9.95 per month. If you are eligible for other financial assistance programs, such as Medicaid, SNAP, SSI or the National School Lunch Program, you qualify for the Internet Essentials plan.
All of the Xfinity plans do not require a contract. This means you do not have any early termination fees or other penalties to worry about if you decide you want to switch plans or go through a different ISP.
Lifeline is not an ISP. Instead, it is a government discounted provided through the Federal Communication Commission. Lifeline offers a $9.25 discount on either your phone or internet bill. You may only select this discount for one bill, not both. As of writing, the requirements are not as strict as previous years because of the Coronavirus. Lifeline eligibility is determined based on whether you receive assistance from other federal programs. This includes Medicaid, SNAP, SSI, FPHA or the Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit. If you receive tribal assistance from programs like Head Start or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, you also qualify for Lifeline assistance.
If you are not receiving assistance from any of these programs, you may still be able to get Lifeline assistance. When you submit your application, you must provide proof of your household income. If you are at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines, you are considered eligible for the Lifeline discount.
AT&T is another one of the largest ISPs in the United States. AT&T is not normally known for affordable rates. One of the ways you can cut down on costs with AT&T is by signing up for a bundled package, combining your cell plan or cable with internet. If these plans are still too expensive, you can apply for AT&T Access.
Access provides 10 Mbps speeds for a severely reduced price, costing between $5 to $10 each month, depending on location. With Access, you do not have to sign any contracts, and any installation fees are waived. In order to get Access, at least one household member must be participating in either SNAP, Head Start or the National School Lunch program. If you have any outstanding debt from the last six months with AT&T, you cannot apply for Access.
Cox has multiple affordable internet packages, but the best package for low income households is the Connect2Compete plan. This internet plan only costs $9.95 each month, providing speeds up to 15 Mbps. Like other ISPs, the qualifications were adjusted for the Coronavirus. If anyone in your household participates in SNAP, the National School Lunch Program, TANF or lives in Public Housing, you are eligible for Connect2Compete.
In addition, because of the Coronavirus, all applicants receive the first two months of Connect2Compete for free. There are also additional resources for participants who want to purchase refurbished equipment for Cox. If you do not qualify for Connect2Compete, the next affordable option is the Cox Internet Starter 10. This plan provides speeds up to 10 Mbps for $19.99 a month. Your first month is free, but you must sign a contract for at least one year of service.