The Lifeline Program is a federal program that provides a monthly discount on phone and internet service for eligible customers. The program’s subsidies are available to individuals or families with annual incomes at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Customers with lower incomes or who participate in certain public assistance programs may qualify for a larger discount. The Lifeline Program is a lifeline for millions of individuals and families living on limited incomes who need access to vital communications services.
However, the Lifeline Program offers more than just reliable and affordable phone and internet services; it can be a tool for economic mobility and improved quality of life. This article examines the deeper benefits of the Lifeline Program, including increased access to education, employment opportunities, and much more.
The Impact of Reliable Phone and Internet Service Access
The availability of affordable phone and internet services can help close the digital divide between low-income individuals and their more affluent counterparts. According to a 2017 report by the Federal Communications Commission, more than 90 percent of Lifeline enrollees have access to traditional, landline telephone service and 95 percent have access to broadband internet services.
Having access to reliable phone and internet services can provide low-income households with important resources. For example, access to broadband internet can make it easier for members of low-income households to search for, apply for, and schedule job interviews and educational classes online. This can provide these families with valuable economic opportunities and a path out of poverty.
In addition, access to reliable phone and internet services can help individuals in need stay connected to friends, family, and community resources. Studies have found that having reliable access to communication services can help reduce depression and improve overall wellbeing.
Increased Access to Education
Having reliable and affordable access to phone and broadband internet services can help reduce the cost burden associated with certain aspects of higher education. For example, online course enrollment fees, textbooks, and other assessment materials can be accessed from any device, from anywhere with an internet connection, allowing students to access and participate in educational opportunities regardless of geographic location, existing inequalities, and lack of access.
In addition, access to internet-enabled devices such as laptops and tablets can provide students with the tools to pursue a degree program. By removing the traditional classroom setting from the equation, Lifeline Program participants can gain access to quality educational materials from anywhere with an internet connection.
Increased Access to Employment
Access to phone and broadband internet can also help provide families with access to quality employment opportunities. It is becoming increasingly common for employers to post new job openings online, and often require applicants to submit their resumes over the internet. In addition, employers may also require that potential employees complete online assessments or attend virtual job interviews. Having access to reliable internet service can help individuals meet these job requirements and increase their chances of employment.
In addition, the ability to access job boards, internships, and other online resources can help individuals gain valuable job experience and knowledge that can lead to future job opportunities.
Increased Access to Financial Resources
Access to reliable phone and internet services can also provide low-income households with opportunities to gain financial stability. For example, the ability to use banking services and other financial resources online can help Lifeline participants better manage their finances, build credit, and establish positive relationships with financial institutions.
In addition, access to phone and internet services can help Lifeline participants connect with support resources when unexpected financial emergencies arise. Having access to these services may also help Lifeline participants discuss their options with financial professionals or participate in financial counseling programs.
How to Apply for Lifeline Benefits
In order to apply for Lifeline benefits, a person must first determine if they are eligible for the program by reviewing its eligibility criteria. Once eligibility has been confirmed, an application must be submitted to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), which administers the Lifeline Program. The application can be completed online or requested and submitted via mail. Additionally, a person can also contact their local telephone company for assistance with applications for the Lifeline Program.
Once the application has been submitted, applicants must provide proof of eligibility by submitting documentation that verifies their identity, residency, income, and public assistance. This documentation will vary depending on the applicant’s state of residence, and a list of required documents can be found on the Lifeline Program website.
Once approved, applicants will choose a wireless carrier that participates in the Lifeline Program. Many nationwide wireless carriers are involved in Lifeline and offer a complete list of available wireless carriers in each state on their websites. After selecting a wireless carrier, applicants must choose a communication plan that meets the program’s coverage requirements.
The Lifeline Program provides more than just reliable phone and internet services; it can be a powerful tool for economic mobility and improved quality of life. The program’s subsidies can have a positive impact on individuals and families living on limited incomes by providing valuable access to educational resources, job opportunities, and financial resources. With these assistance programs, low-income individuals and families can gain the tools needed to pursue more secure and independent lives.
The Lifeline Program is a lifeline for millions of individuals and families. Through this program, individuals and families living on limited incomes can gain access to vital communications services and opportunities for economic mobility. The Lifeline Program provides the tools needed for individuals and families to pursue secure and independent lives.