Low-income Michiganders can receive $50 off monthly internet bills amid pandemic

Many providers participating in new federal program to help Americans maintain broadband access


A new federal program will help low-income Michigan residents pay their monthly internet bills amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The federal government has allocated $3.2 billion for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program to help individuals and families who are either low income or have been financially impacted by the pandemic to pay for broadband services. Qualifying households will receive a $50 monthly discount on their internet bill, while those living on qualifying tribal lands will receive $75 off of their bill each month.

“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.

Starting Wednesday, May 12, Michiganders can apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program if at least one person in the household meets the following criteria, as listed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC):

  • 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.

Eligible households can apply for the benefit by:

  • Contacting your preferred participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process;
  • Visiting the Emergency Broadband Benefit program’s website right here to apply online and find participating providers near you; or
  • Calling 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application that you must return, along with proof of eligibility, to:
    • Emergency Broadband Support Center, P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742.

Individuals who owe money to their phone or cable company are reportedly still able to get the discount. More than 800 cellphone and home internet companies are participating in the program, including AT&T, Charter, Comcast, T-Mobile and Verizon. Click here to see a full list of providers in Michigan that are participating in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.

Read more: Emergency program to give people $50 off internet bill

The program is also offering eligible individuals a one-time $100 discount on a device, such as a laptop or tablet, that is purchased through an eligible provider. Officials say those who receive this discount will be required to make a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50.

It is currently unclear how long the funding for the program will last. Feds say the program will operate either until the funds have been exhausted, or six months after the coronavirus pandemic is declared over.

Officials say funding for the program is expected to last at least several months.

Learn more about the program on the FCC’s website here.

According to the Michigan Public Service Commission, about 1.25 million households in Michigan “lack a permanent fixed broadband connection,” a press release reads Wednesday.

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.