Programs open to help Kansas families, students pay for phone, internet

Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 2:49 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Two new programs have opened to help Kansas families and students pay for phone and internet services this school year.

The Kansas Corporation Commission says the start of a new school year is an expensive time for families. If families are struggling to pay for phone and internet services while also navigating back-to-school costs, it said help is available.

During Lifeline Awareness Week, the KCC said it encourages residents in need of assistance to apply for Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Plan. It said both programs help low-income families stay connected so they may access healthcare, attend classes, keep up with homework, find jobs and call for help in an emergency.

The Commission indicated that those who qualify for Lifeline are automatically eligible to participate in both programs. Due to higher income maximums, it said ACP also has the potential to help families with internet costs that may not qualify for other types of help.

For example, the KCC said the maximum income for a family of four on the ACP program is $55,500 per year. Meanwhile, the maximum annual income for a family of four on the Lifeline program is $37,463.

KCC noted that Lifeline provides federal and state discounts of up to $17.02 per month on phone service and broadband. It said the ACP provides a service discount of up to $30 per month for broadband service and a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer or tablet purchased through a participating provider.

The KCC said both programs offer additional discounts for subscribers who live on tribal lands.

According to the Commission, eligibility is based on income - at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for Lifeline or at or below 200% for ACP - or participation in certain assistance programs including the following:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FHPA)
  • Veterans Pension & Survivors Pension Benefit
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
  • Head Start Tribal Programs (income based)
  • The Food Distribution Program on Tribal Lands

Regardless of Lifeline eligibility, the KCC said Kansans could still qualify for ACP if they meet any of the following criteria:

  • Are approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including the USDA Community Eligibility Provision.
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year.
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020.
  • Meet the eligibility requirement for a participating broadband provider’s existing low-income program.

For more information on income eligibility, participating providers or the enrollment process, click HERE.