Guide to low-income internet options and affordable internet plans

Robin Layton

Mar 27, 2024 — 4 min read

Families that meet income or government assistance requirements may qualify for discounted or low-cost internet.

If your household makes less than or equal to 200% of the federal poverty level (for example, $55,500/year for a family of four, $27,180/year for an individual) or you qualify for certain government assistance programs, you are a good candidate for getting help with paying for monthly internet service from the U.S. government or internet provider programs.

Nearly 30 million U.S. homes lack internet, and 18 million of those do not have it because they cannot afford it, according to the Education Super Highway’s No Home Left Offline Report.

“Affordability has now emerged as the number one barrier to closing the digital divide. We have a historic opportunity to close two-thirds of the digital divide by connecting 18 million households that have access to the Internet but can’t afford to connect,” said Evan Marwell, founder and CEO of EducationSuperHighway.

Government-funded broadband assistance

The federal government’s Lifeline was created to assist limited-income households in affording internet.

Lifeline provides a discount of $9.25/mo. (or $34.25/mo. for people on Tribal lands). You can use it on a landline, a cellphone plan, home internet service or even an internet and phone bundle. 

Qualifying for Lifeline

If you or someone in your household participate in a federal assistance program, you may qualify for Lifeline. Those programs include Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefits and more. Check here to see if you are eligible.

Summary of low-income internet programs by provider

Many internet service providers also offer their own low-income assistance programs to provide affordable internet access. For their student-only, low-cost programs, the ISP may require additional verifications.

Low-income internet options from top providers:

  • Optimum Advantage Internet – Up to 50 Mbps for $14.99/mo. 
  • Access from AT&T – Up to 100 Mbps for under $30/mo.*
  • Cox Connect2Compete – Up to 100 Mbps for $9.95/mo.*
  • Mediacom Connect2Compete – Up to 25 Mbps for $9.95/mo.*
  • Spectrum Internet Assist – Varies
  • Xfinity Internet Essentials – Up to 50 Mbps for $9.95/mo.*

Optimum Advantage Internet

  • Optimum Advantage Internet or call (844) 358-3147
  • Up to 50 Mbps for $14.99/mo. 
  • Free installation
  • Free Wi-Fi router
  • No data caps
  • Qualifications: Families with seniors, veterans, students

Access from AT&T

  • Access from AT&T or call (888) 717-1080
  • Up to 100 Mbps internet for under $30/mo. with your ACP enrollment. 
  • No contract
  • No deposit
  • No installation fee required
  • In-home Wi-Fi modem and access to more than 30,000 AT&T nationwide hotspots included.
  • Qualifications: Participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for California residents only, National School Lunch, or with a household income below 200% of federal poverty guidelines.

Cox Connect2Compete

  • Cox’s Connect2Compete or call (855) 222-3252
  • $9.95/mo.*
  • Up to 100 Mbps
  • No deposits
  • No annual contracts
  • Free Wi-Fi modem
  • Qualifications: One K-12 student in household, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Public Housing, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Mediacom Connect2Compete

  • Mediacom’s Connect2Compete or call (855) 904-2225
  • $9.95/mo. for up to 25 Mbps
  • No contract
  • No deposit
  • No installation fees
  • No equipment rental fees
  • Wi-Fi modem provided via no-cost lease
  • Qualifications: at least one child in grades K-12 living at home and at least one child receives free or reduced school lunches through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). You must not be a current Mediacom internet customer and not have an outstanding bill or unreturned equipment.

Spectrum Internet Assist

  • Spectrum Internet Assist or call (855) 870-1311
  • Pricing varies depending on plan
  • No contract
  • Modem included
  • In-home Wi-Fi available for extra $5/mo.
  • Qualifications: A household member must be a recipient of one of these assistance programs: National School Lunch Program, Community Eligibility Provision or Supplemental Security Income (for applicants age 65+ only).

Xfinity Internet Essentials

  • Xfinity Internet Essentials or call (855) 846-8376
  • $9.95/mo. for speeds up to 50 Mbps
  • No credit check
  • No contract
  • No installation fees
  • In-home Wi-Fi included
  • Participants can purchase a low-cost computer for $149.99 plus tax.
  • Qualifications: Your entire household income is at or below twice the federal poverty level, or you participate in federal assistance programs such as Lifeline, SNAP/EBT, Medicaid or free and reduced-price school lunch.

Saving money on internet costs

If you’re struggling to pay for internet service but don’t qualify for one of the programs above, you can explore cheap internet options from a variety of providers and take other steps to reduce your bill, such as buying your own equipment if it’s cheaper and keeping an eye on hidden internet fees.

Another option is to rely on free public Wi-Fi if you live near any stores, cafes, public parks or other establishments offering free internet.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask providers about discounts. Many internet service providers offer discounts for military and veteran families and senior citizens.

Call our experts today to learn more about affordable internet options in your area.

Robin Layton

Written by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

Robin Layton is an editor for the broadband marketplace Allconnect. She built her internet industry expertise writing and editing for four years on the site, as well as on Allconnect’s sister site … Read more