FAQ on the Emergency Broadband Benefit

June 7, 2021

What is the EBB?

  • The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) is a new federal program that provides a $50 monthly discount on internet service ($75 on Tribal lands) to qualifying low-income households.
  • The discount applies to “bundles” that include texting, voicemail, modems, routers, and hotspots, but does not apply to cable TV bundles. It also applies to “bulk billing” where monthly rent includes broadband.
  • The program includes a one-time discount, per household, of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop or tablet. A household must contribute between $10 and $50 toward device cost (note: cell phones are not eligible).
  • Congress created the $3.2 billion program, which President Trump signed into law, in December 2020. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened enrollment on May 12, 2021.

Who is eligible?

  • People who experienced a substantial loss of income after February 29, 2020 and had a total 2020 household income below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers.
  • People who received a Federal Pell Grant in the 2020–21 award year (July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021).
  • People who receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, or did so in the 2019-20 school year.
  • People who are eligible for a participating internet service provider’s existing low-income program.
  • People who qualify for the FCC’s Lifeline program with incomes at or below 135% of the poverty level
  • People who are enrolled in any of the following programs:
    • Medicaid
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
    • Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit
    • Tribal-programs including: Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal Head Start, Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations

How do I sign up? 

  • Visit getemergencybroadband.org
  • Call the EBB helpline at (833) 511-0311.
  • Download and print a paper application and mail it, along with proof documentation, to Emergency Broadband Support Center, P.O. Box 708, London, KY, 40742.
  • Internet service providers can also enroll people directly. The FCC maintains a list of participating ISPs. However, many ISP websites are confusing and might attempt to upsell applicants on non-EBB plans. 

Will enrolling in EBB affect my Lifeline eligibility? 

  • No. Enrolling in EBB will not affect Lifeline service. Lifeline subscribers can enroll in EBB and choose service from any participating ISP. They are not required to choose EBB service from their Lifeline provider.

What paperwork do I need? 

  • Proof of identity through one of the following:
    • Social Security Number (note: SSNs are not required, but can help process applications faster)
    • Tribal Identification Number
    • Government-issued ID, including driver’s license, state ID card, and U.S. passport
    • U.S. Military ID
    • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Proof of address:
    • The online application attempts to verify addresses automatically, otherwise online applicants can use the application’s mapping tool to drop a pin on their address.
    • The paper application requires either (1) a map of the address that includes latitude and longitude coordinates or (2) a document with first and last name and mailing address (e.g. a photocopy of a valid government ID, utility bill, lease statement, or most recent tax return).
  • Proof of independent household status:
    • Online applicants are automatically prompted to complete a household worksheet.
    • Paper applicants can complete a worksheet if someone else at the same address is enrolled in EBB.
  • Proof of substantial income loss in the case of a lost job or furlough:
    • If the applicant qualifies due to income loss, they must provide documentation of (1) income loss, (2) current income, and (3) proof that annual income is below $99,000 for single filers or $198,000 for joint filers. This may require two documents, such as a layoff notice and a 2020 tax return.
  • Proof of participation in other assistance programs:
    • Applicants qualifying via other programs must provide an official letter dated within the past year.
    • SNAP: Acceptable documents include downloading notices or uploading a picture of a notice received in the mail. The document must include the name of the qualifying person. 
    • National School Lunch Program (Community Eligibility Provision): If an entire school is eligible for NSLP, applicants can select their school from a drop-down menu in the online application. Mail applicants can include the school name, school district, and state on page 5 of the application. 
    • National School Lunch Program (non-CEP): Acceptable documents include an award notice from the 2019-20 or 2020-21 school year or a letter from the school confirming participation in NSLP. The letter must include the student’s name, school or district, school year, and the qualifying program.
    • Pell Grants: Documentation must be from the current award year and can include a benefit award letter, approval letter, statement of benefits, or benefit verification letter. Screenshots from StudentAid.govdashboard or a copy of the Department of Education’s EBB email are acceptable.
    • Veterans Pension and Survivor Benefits: Acceptable documents include proof of Veterans Benefits or any mailing that includes the qualifying person’s name, agency name (VA), and issue date within the last year. These documents can be requested at va.gov/records/download-va-letters/.
    • Supplemental Security Income: A benefits verification letter is acceptable, as well as any mailing from SSI in the past year that includes the person’s name and agency (SSA). These documents can be requested at ssa.gov/myaccount/proof-of-benefits.html or by calling 1-800-772-1213.

What happens when the program ends?

  • The program will end six months after the Secretary of Health and Human Services declares an end to the pandemic or when the program’s $3.2 billion has been exhausted, whichever is sooner.
  • Providers must give consumers at least a 30-day notice prior to the termination of discounts.
  • Congress could appropriate additional funds to extend the EBB or create a permanent program.
Related Topics
Internet Access & Adoption Affordability