Michiganders who meet income eligibility requirements or have been financially impacted by COVID-19 will be able to receive financial help to pay for home broadband connections and internet-enabled devices as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rolls out the Emergency Broadband Benefit program recently approved by Congress.
Federal lawmakers appropriated $3.2 billion to help low-income households pay for home broadband service and equipment. Through the new program, eligible consumers may receive a $50 monthly discount on their broadband bill – $75 a month for eligible consumers living on qualifying tribal lands.
The broadband benefit program also provides for a one-time device discount of up to $100 for a laptop or desktop computer or tablet purchased through an eligible provider. Consumers receiving the discount are required to make a co-payment of more than $10 and less than $50.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear, having high-speed internet access at home isn’t a luxury, but a necessity so that people have access to critical services such as remote learning and telemedicine and maintain the ability to stay in contact with family and friends during a difficult and isolating time,” said Michigan Public Service Commissioner Tremaine Phillips.
The MPSC is partnering with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Connected Nation Michigan to raise awareness about the broadband assistance program for residents of Michigan. Broadband affordability is a critical issue nationwide, but it’s acute in Michigan, which lags national averages for households connected to high-speed internet for reasons of affordability and lack of access in rural areas. About 1.25 million Michigan households lack a permanent fixed broadband connection.
“Many Michiganders who receive public assistance benefits through MDHHS will be eligible for help paying for high-speed internet access,” said Lewis Roubal, MDHHS chief deputy director for opportunity. “We want them to be aware because a broadband connection makes it easier for them to access the benefits and services that they need to stay healthy, put food on the table and find work to support their families.”
“Michigan’s broadband issues go beyond a lack of infrastructure access,” said Eric Frederick, Executive Director of Connected Nation Michigan. “Even when high-speed internet service is available, many families cannot afford the monthly cost of service to get connected. The Emergency Broadband Benefit program will help thousands of Michigan families afford the connectivity they need to telework, access telemedicine services and vaccine appointments, allow their children to learn online, and provide access to other critical support and resources.”
According to the FCC, a household is eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program if a member of the household meets one of these criteria:
- Has an income at or below 135% of federal poverty guidelines or participates in assistance programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
- Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, or did so in the 2019-2020 school year;
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
- Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since Feb. 29, 2020; or
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
There are three ways to apply for the benefit:
- Contact your preferred participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process.
- Go to www.GetEmergencyBroadband.org to apply online and find participating providers near you.
- Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application and return it along with proof of eligibility to:
Emergency Broadband Support Center
P.O. Box 7081
London, KY 40742
The Emergency Broadband Benefit is a temporary assistance program that will expire when federal funds are exhausted or six months after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency.
More information regarding the broadband benefit program and eligibility is available through the Universal Service Administrative Company and the FCC. The FCC also has list of Michigan providers participating in the EBB Program. More providers may be added to this list once they receive required federal approval.
COVID Emergency Rental Assistance program
A $300 stipend for internet service is currently available for residential tenants in Michigan through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority’s (MSHDA) COVID Emergency Rental Assistance or CERA program. Michigan households can visit MSHDA’s CERA program website to learn more about program eligibility guidelines and how to apply for assistance through MSHDA’s application portal.
Those having financial difficulty obtaining telephone or broadband service may also qualify for the Lifeline discount program through participating providers. Those who already participate in Lifeline programs may also participate in the broadband benefit program.
Wi-Fi Hotspot Map
The MPSC, in partnership with other State of Michigan agencies and Connected Nation Michigan, released a publicly available statewide Wi-Fi hotspot map to assist residents who currently lack internet access at home.
For information about the MPSC, visit www.Michigan.gov/MPSC, sign up for its monthly newsletter or other listservs, or follow the Commission on Twitter or LinkedIn.
For the most current information about this program, please visit MPSC – Low-income households in Michigan now eligible for federal assistance through Emergency Broadband Benefit program