Staying Connected in the Digital Age
Over the past year, we’ve seen the power of the internet in our modern world. Whether it was connecting us to work, school, family and friends, or just a bit of entertainment, the internet has been an important tool in helping us navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, I’ll make the bold claim that the internet isn’t going anywhere. For many, I think having access to the internet is a lifeline, and I expect that will continue to be the case going forward. And yet, over the course of the pandemic, we’ve seen families struggle to pay for this ever-important service in the digital age.
With that in mind, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced a new Emergency Broadband Benefit program to reduce the monthly cost of internet service for eligible households during the COVID-19 pandemic. If your household is eligible, you could get up to $50 per month off your internet bill. The benefit also provides a discount up to $100 per household toward a one-time purchase of a computer, laptop or tablet if the household contributes $10 to $50 toward the purchase through a participating broadband provider. A household is eligible if one member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:
- Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid or the FCC’s Lifeline program;
- Is approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;
- Has received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
- Has experienced a substantial loss of income through job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020, and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
Internet service providers can help sign up eligible households until funding for the program runs out. More information about this program can be found through the Missouri Department of Economic Development at ded2.mo.gov/GETCONNECTED.
As always, it is an honor to serve the 6th Senatorial District. If my office can be service to you, please feel free to contact us at (573) 751-2076. For information about my committee assignments or sponsored legislation, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at senate.mo.gov/Bernskoetter.