How to Get Free Government Internet for Seniors: Easy Steps

This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a small commission. Thanks.

Internet connectivity is as vital as a phone nowadays. If it’s your parents, one of the benefits of having the internet is that you can monitor them more efficiently. And with the offer of free government internet for seniors currently going on, not getting their home online will be an excuse.

While it might sound too good to be true, the discounted internet from the government has been ongoing for a while. Some consumers have benefited from it for over a decade since it started as a broadband pilot program.

But then, the perks of the free internet discount have been improving over the years. The government also has been creating and recreating more programs with the broadband subsidy.

Like in the most recent internet program, the connectivity subsidy has been up to $75/ month. It is how we’ve had millions online through premium broadband providers, some offering up to unlimited 300Mbps fixed broadband at no cost.

Verdict: 5 Crucial Points about the Free Government Internet for Seniors

  1. The free government internet for seniors is for low-income households
  2. Dozens of broadband providers have free government internet for seniors
  3. The free government internet for seniors is on either mobile or fixed broadband
  4. You currently can only enroll for free government internet for seniors with a $34.25 subsidy
  5. The government internet offer for seniors with the most savings accepts no new enrollment

Is the free Government Internet for Seniors Worth it?

In this post, we’ll look at all the crucial details on the current offer of free government internet for seniors. The piece covers how to qualify and apply, how much discount and broadband allowance you get, plus companies to consider.

Before coming to all that, is free government internet for seniors really good?

Definitely, yes, the free internet discount for seniors from the government is worth it. For one, the cheapest broadband service before any assistance program is usually around $50 – $80 per month, including equipment fees.

When we redeem the government broadband subsidies, this price can come down to $10/ month or $0 for some. And either case is amazing.

Free Government Internet for Seniors
Free Government Internet for Seniors

In an internet broadband fact sheet of the Pew Research Center, the graph line shows many seniors of the age 60+ have been going online. The fact sheet also shows a sharp spike of 65+ adults going online

The internet savings through government subsidies are no doubt amazing as many seniors may want to get online. However, their little savings or pension may not be enough to afford the monthly subscription.  

Other Benefits of Free Government Internet for Seniors

Besides the savings, other benefits of free government internet for seniors include:

  • The senior can connect with family members or closest friends with real-time video calls through free platforms like WhatsApp.
  • A senior can use online platforms like Facebook to meet new friends, with whom they can share their stories and laugh. Thus, remaining connected to the world outside their homes, which in turn can reduce depression.
  • Enjoy entertainment, such as watching videos from their favorite musicians or comedians on YouTube. (I have seen my grandma so hooked to interviews from Bill Maher and other oldies).
  • Many seniors prefer to spend their leisure time crafting with their own hands. Women may go with crafts like knitting/ crocheting/ pot-paining, while men drown in woodwork/ leatherworking/ metalworking. And the internet is full of creative ideas to choose from, with all the how-to steps.
  • The free government internet can also help seniors get in touch with their physicians to track their health. It also makes it easy to book appointments or request medications.
  • Seniors can also play online puzzles and strategy games for stimulating cognition. Thus, helping to reduce cognitive decline and improve their decision-making.

 How to Get the Offer of Free Government Internet for Seniors

Technically, there are about five ways anyone can apply for low-income internet. But when we narrow down to the offer of free government internet for seniors, there are only two ways to get it:

  1. Lifeline Internet program
  2. Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)

Option 1: Get Free Government Internet for Seniors with the Lifeline Program

The first way how to get free government internet for seniors is through the Lifeline program. It may sound surprising as many people only know about the free Lifeline phone service. But, yes, there is also an internet package.

As we’ve mentioned severally on our page, the Lifeline program is a government connectivity program that has been around since 1985. The program started offering only discounts on phone service- first home phone and later cellular packages.

Around 2012, the Federal Communications Commission started a Lifeline pilot program for affordable broadband internet. The pilot program was soon permanent, and as years went by, the broadband allowance to eligible consumers also increased.

While the allowances cap increased, though, the government has maintained the Lifeline internet subsidy at $9.25/ month. The consumers on tribal lands usually get the best internet subsidies, amounting up to $34.25 per month.

In non-tribal areas, the Lifeline discount on the internet is seemingly less. However, you should know that ETCs are not subjected to the high taxes on regular postpaid/ prepaid broadband companies.

As a matter of fact, part of these taxes in prepaid and postpaid broadband providers is what budgets the Lifeline program. The budget comes under the Universal Service Fund (USF), which, of course, also caters to other initiatives like Rural Health Care Support.

Important Notes:

  1. ETCs or eligible telecommunication carriers are cellular and broadband service providers that have licenses to offer the Lifeline program.
  2. The Universal Service Fund usually comprises taxes the government collects from mobile broadband providers. As such, the budget for the Lifeline is constant, making the low-cost internet for seniors permanent.
  3. If applying the free government internet through a mobile broadband provider, you can get up to 6GB allowance. Then, redeeming the subsidy via a fixed broadband service can give you up to an unlimited internet allowance.
  4. The Lifeline Internet program is only available for one enrollment per household. In that case, no senior will get support if another member of the household is already enrolled. It also means one can’t redeem the discount with both mobile and fixed broadband at the same time.
  5. Any senior can only get free internet from the government lifeline program if eligible for low-income support.

How to Qualify for Free Government Internet for Seniors with Lifeline Program

The Lifeline program, whether for the phone or internet discount, is for low-income consumers. As such, the first obvious way to qualify for the government internet for seniors is with a low income.

Not just any low income is eligible for the internet discount with the Lifeline program. The low income MUST be less than or equal to 135 percent of the latest federal poverty guidelines.

Alternatively, you can qualify for the Lifeline internet subsidy if you participate in an eligible government-funded assistance/ welfare benefit.

The federal and state government usually offers these welfare benefits to those with less resources. Hence, the reason they’re automatically eligible for the Lifeline program.

But again, not just any assistance benefit qualifies for the internet subsidy through the Lifeline program. Like the income-based eligibility, one can only get the free government internet for seniors with accepted assistance benefits like:

  • Medicaid benefit
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit
  • Veterans & Veteran’s Survivors Pension benefit
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) benefit
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefit
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) benefit
  • Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit
  • Head Start, BIA, Tribal TANF, and other Tribal-administered assistance benefits

How to Apply Free Government Internet for Seniors with Lifeline Program

If you certify any of the income-based or program-based eligibility requirements above, it’s easy to apply the Lifeline Internet for seniors.

In applying for Lifeline Internet, many of the providers I’ve gone through require you to first enroll with the National Verifier. The eight easy steps for that are:

  1. Gather all the things you need for this process. Some of the things you’ll need include an internet-enabled phone/ tablet/ laptop/ desktop computer, plus documents for proof of eligibility and identity.
  2. Take your internet-enabled device and visit the Lifeline National Verifier page
  3. When on the NV enrollment page, you get a prompt to choose “your state or territory”. After you’ve chosen, click the “Get Started” button
  4. Next, fill in your details in the appropriate spaces. The details include your full legal name, date of birth, and social security number (last 4 digits). Then, confirm your type of government identification or number on your Tribal ID and current home address (Street number, apartment/ unit, city, and zip code).
  5. Now, the enrollment form will ask whether you qualify for Lifeline yourself or through a dependent. Once you confirm that, hit the bold “Next” button.
  6. The Next will take you to a fresh window where you can set a username and password for your account. When done, input your contact information, and then click “Submit”.
  7. At this point, the NV enrollment form will take you to a new window about the Lifeline program. Locate and click the “Start Lifeline Application” tab. Then, choose your eligibility means (from the options shown) and click “Next”.
  8. Finally, you’ll get a prompt to Review Your Information and correct the details if needed. If all the details are okay, hit the “Submit” button.

Choose Your Free Government Internet Provider

In Step 8, clicking the “Submit” button will share and run your details in the National Verifier database. If the USAC system deems you eligible for the Lifeline program, you’ll get an enrollment ID number. Then, you can return to your desired provider of free government internet for seniors to get connected.

Option 2: Get Free Government Internet for Seniors with the ACP Program

The second way one could get discounted government internet for seniors is with the ACP program.

Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a recently released program that has been giving broadband subsidies to low-income Americans. The program is still new, having launched at the end of 2021, and then started offering internet discounts in January 2022.

If approved, the subsidy of the free government internet via the ACP program amounts to $30/ month for most consumers. The consumers on tribal lands can get up to $75, enough to cover the full amount on broadband plans with premium companies.

While with great savings for both tribal and non-tribal Americans, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says ACP is winding down. Congress has failed to provide additional ACP Funds as we had hoped.

In fact, the end of the ACP program started early in February, when the FCC closed the window for new enrollments. The consumers who had been getting the broadband subsidy until now were those enrolled earlier. Hence, the reason I won’t be covering this section further (I will update the article if the government decides to restore ACP funding).

20+ Broadband Providers with Free Government Internet for Seniors

In this final part, I’ll list down the best broadband providers with free government internet for seniors via the Lifeline program. As I’ve just said, the ACP program is ending, with the FCC having projected April as the last fully funded month.

Fast forward, the various broadband providers you can apply for the lifeline internet include:

  1. Fixed Broadband Providers with Discounted Government Internet for Seniors
 Call to ApplyOnline Enrollment
Consolidated Communications1-844-968-7224www.consolidated-com/Support/Residential-Support/Lifeline-Assistance-Programs
Cox Communications1-800-234-3993www.cox-com/residential/phone/lifeline-html?
TDS Telecom/Hornitos Telephone Company1-866-571-6662www.tdstelecom-com/lifeline.html
Atlas Telephone
Cookson Hills
CVEC Fiber(405)
Windstream Communications1-800-347-1991www.windstreamcom/about/lifeline.assistance-program
Lake Region Technology and
Twin Valley  
H & B Cable
Wamego Telephone Company+1
S & T Telephone1 (800)
Tri-County Telephone
Gorham Telephone
LaHarpe Telephone Company,
Nex-Tech (formerly Moundridge Telephone Company)
JBN Telephone

B)   Mobile Broadband Providers with Free Government Internet for Seniors

Various areas across the country still don’t have fixed Broadband service. In other cases, the fixed broadband Providers available may not be participating in the Lifeline program.

Whichever of the two situations may be, you can opt to get the free internet service for seniors with mobile broadband providers.

The mobile broadband plans after the government subsidies are usually not the best. But some companies give away up to 6GB of high-speed browsing, which is more than enough to get online for many seniors.

About a dozen of the mobile providers with free internet from the government include:

 Carrier NetworkLifeline-Only Data
SafeLink WirelessVerizon4-5GB (6GB California)
AirTalk WirelessT-Mobile4-5GB
Cintex WirelessT-Mobile4-5GB
Assurance WirelessT-Mobile4-5GB (6GB California)
Gen MobileAT&T/ T-Mobile4-5GB
TAG MobileT-Mobile/ Verizon/ AT&T1GB (3GB California)
Q Link WirelessT-Mobile4-5GB
Newphone WirelessT-Mobile4-5GB
Access WirelessT-Mobile4-5GB (6GB California)
TruConnectT-Mobile250MB (6GB California)
Life WirelessAT&T4-5GB (6GB California)
StandUp WirelessT-Mobile4-5GB (6GB California)
Infiniti MobileVerizon/ AT&T/ T-Mobile4-5GB (6GB California)
American AssistanceT-Mobile4-5GB (6GB California)
Assist WirelessT-Mobile50MB or 3GB
Safety net Wireless  AT&T1GB (6GB California)
Easy WirelessT-Mobile25MB

Remember to Keep Your Seniors Safe Online

Well, that’s all you should know about the free government internet for seniors at the moment. The topic still has a lot to talk about, as usual. But these are the crucial details to know for now if interested in the offer.

The most crucial of all these points I’d like to reconfirm is that only one enrollment of Lifeline Internet is available per household. As such, you shouldn’t apply for the offer with a fixed internet service while already on another mobile broadband.

Also, it’s worth mentioning our seniors have a high likelihood of falling into online scams, such as phishing, deactivation scare, fake products/ services, et cetera.

So, make sure your older adult knows how to be safe online and not fall into these fraudulent schemes. Then, for their laptops/ computers, you can install the latest protection against malware.