TOPEKA (KSNT) – If you’re struggling to pay for your phone or internet service while navigating back to school costs, there’s help available.
The Kansas Corporation Commission, KCC, is encouraging Kansans to apply to two programs that offer discounts for wireless services, devices, and phone lines.
Linda Berry, a spokesperson for the KCC, told the Kansas Capitol Bureau Tuesday that the program is focused on helping people in need, especially during the pandemic.
“I think we all learned a lot over the pandemic about how important it is to have broadband access, during for schools, doctors’ appointments, to call for help in an emergency… there are so many reasons,” Berry said.
According to the KCC, one of the programs, Lifeline provides federal and state discounts up to $17.02 per month on phone service (wireless or residential) and broadband. The $3.2 billion federal Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program, launched last May in response to the pandemic, provides a $50 per month broadband discount. Participants also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. Both programs offer additional discounts for subscribers living on tribal lands.
Both programs help low-income families and individuals stay connected so they can access healthcare, attend classes, find jobs, and call for help in an emergency.
Anyone who qualifies for Lifeline also qualifies for Emergency Broadband.
To be eligible for Lifeline, your household income must be at or below 135% of the poverty level or you receive one or more of the following benefits:
- 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 (only those meeting its income qualifying standard)
- The Food Distribution Program on Tribal Lands.
To qualify for EBB, your household must meet one of the following requirements:
- Meet the criteria for the Lifeline program
- Receive 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 February 29, 2020.
- Meet the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.