Biden-Harris Administration Making “Back to School” Drive to Help Students and Families Get Free High-Speed Internet
As America’s kids get back to school and continue to recover from the challenges of the pandemic, ensuring that all families have access to affordable high-speed internet is more important than ever. Access to high-speed internet is a necessity, especially for students whose classes and homework assignments increasingly require internet access. Still, too many families and students go without high-speed internet because of the cost, making it difficult to participate equally in school and to combat learning loss from the impacts of the pandemic. That’s why President Biden and Vice President Harris worked with Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to create the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The ACP provides eligible households up to $30/month (or $75/month on Tribal lands) off internet bills, as well as a one-time $100 discount off a connected device. To further lower costs, the Administration secured commitments from internet service providers across the country to offer high-speed plans that are fully covered by the ACP—meaning millions of working families can now get high-speed internet without paying a dime.
Nearly 40% of U.S. households qualify for ACP—including millions of families with kids. Households are eligible if they make up to 200% of the federal poverty level ($55,500 for a family of four), and are also eligible, regardless of income, if they participate in certain federal programs. In particular, families are eligible if any member of the household: (1) participates in the Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch or Breakfast program, including a child who attends a Community Eligibility Provision school; or (2) is receiving a Pell Grant this school year.
GetInternet.gov is a one-stop shop where families can check their eligibility and sign up. Families can also call 877-384-2575 for more ways to apply.
The Biden-Harris Administration’s “Back to School” enrollment drive includes:
- Working with local leaders to help families in their community sign up. Today, White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu published a letter to local government leaders across the country – including mayors, county executives, state legislators, school leaders, and others – asking them to commit to taking three simple steps to help families sign up: Local leaders can help by working to mobilize their local schools, directly contacting eligible or likely eligible households to let them know about the program, and using every tool available to spread the word about GetInternet.gov.
- Providing a “Back to School” toolkit for schools. The toolkit includes specific, actionable recommendations for how school leaders can help their students’ families sign up and includes a ready-to-go backpack flyer that schools can distribute providing all the details families need. Schools can also use the Federal Communication Commission’s ACP outreach tools to spread the word in their communities.
- Raising ACP awareness through the Department of Education’s “Back to School” outreach. This week, as part of the Department of Education’s “Back to School” Bus Tour, Department of Education and Federal Communications Commission officials are visiting elementary schools, a public housing authority, and other community-based organizations in North Carolina to help distribute information about ACP to families and to hear directly from families, educators, and other community members and leaders about how internet access supports a student’s education. The Department of Education will also share outreach tools and recommendations with hundreds of family engagement centers, recipients of grant funding, and other local partners. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona also recently launched a social media campaign to raise awareness among Spanish-speaking families.
- Reaching out to principals at key schools. Families with a student at one of the more than 33,000 schools across the country where every student automatically receives free meals – Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools – are automatically eligible for ACP. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will work with State Agencies to send information to CEP-eligible schools that includes outreach materials and asks their principals to let students’ families know that they qualify for free or discounted high-speed internet. The USDA will also include a link to its ACP resources on its landing pages for CEP schools and for families. In August, USDA contacted State Directors of Child Nutrition Programs and School Meal Programs Administering Agencies to provide information about ACP and encourage them to help schools enroll families.
- Emailing all Pell Grant awardees to notify them of their eligibility and encourage them to sign up. Households with a student who are receiving a Pell Grant during this award year are automatically eligible for the ACP. The Department of Education is emailing over six million students awarded a Pell Grant this award year to let them know that they are eligible and how to sign up.
- Conducting outreach to Tribal communities. The Department of the Interior is distributing the toolkit to all Bureau of Indian Education students, families, and communities by email and hard copy. The Bureau of Trust Funds Administration has also sent out a direct mailing with information about ACP to 400,000 beneficiaries.