Changes have been made to a federal program that helps low-income Americans get connected to the internet, and the Oak Hill Collaborative is offering instruction and enrollment assistance to Mahoning Valley residents.
In 2021, the federal government funded the Emergency Broadband Benefit program to qualifying low-income households. For 2022, that program has been changed to the Affordable Connectivity Program, with new qualifications enabling more households to qualify.
Households with an income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level qualify for the revised program. The previous qualification was an income at or below 135% of the federal poverty level. A family of four making $53,000 per year, for example, now qualifies for the discount. In addition, military retirees and disabled veterans also qualify for the discount regardless of income, as well as households where a student receives free or reduced meals or a Pell Grant. Residents receiving Social Security disability also qualify.
The Oak Hill Collaborative’s free assistance is for current internet customers as well as those without internet access who want to establish service. Personnel hired by Oak Hill will review low-cost internet service availability (home internet and wireless internet options), identify discounted PC choices and provide training and education options.
“No one should have to choose between paying their internet bill or paying to put food on the table,” Pat Kerrigan, executive director of the Oak Hill Collaborative, said in a news release. “With the help of the FCC’s revised American Connectivity Fund, more Valley households will now have cheaper ways to access virtual learning, connect to telemedicine for health care or perhaps learn new online skills and seek their next job.”
For more information and to set up an appointment, call the Oak Hill Collaborative at 330-406-0271.