When you’re a student – whether you’re tackling college away from home, experiencing high school for the first time, or in the middle of college – juggling the responsibilities of education, regardless of either level, can be difficult. Whether or not you participate in distance learning, you will need a reliable and affordable internet connection. These aren’t cheap, but there are a number of broadband discounts available that could help ease the financial burden on you and your family.
Start by checking federal broadband support
Before digging into provider-specific offerings, it’s best to start with federal programs that can be helpful no matter which provider serves the area you live or go to school in. If you or a member of your household participates in federal public housing assistance, the National School Lunch Program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or other eligible federal programs, you will probably be eligible.
First is, a program that’s been around since 1985. It’s often thought of as a program for seniors—participation in Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income are among the qualifiers—but Lifeline is really meant to offer assistance to low-income households. This makes it a viable option for families with children in K-12 or single students. Eligibility factors include income at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines, or participation in federal assistance programs such as FPHA or SNAP.
Once you qualify, you get $9.25 off your internet bill per month. That’s $111 per year off your broadband costs.
If you qualify for Lifeline, you also qualify for, which is a government grant program set up by the Federal Communications Commission. Eligible individuals and households will receive a monthly rebate on the cost of broadband service from participating Internet service providers.
You can use ACP for the programs listed below and it could fully cover your monthly fee. Or, you can also choose to use ACP to pay for a faster plan with more megabits per second.
Now, without further ado, here are some of your options.
This program provides affordable internet access to families and students from eligible low-income households (including those who are eligible for NSLP, SNAP, Head Start, and WIC, among others). It offers download speeds of up to 50 Mbps for $10 a month, with the first 60 days free. There are no contracts, credit checks or setup fees.
Read our Astound Broadband review.
This program offers download speeds of up to 100 Mbps for $30 per month or less for low-income households in AT&T’s 21-state footprint. There are no contracts, data overage fees, or setup fees, and AT&T provides a Wi-Fi modem for free. You can apply through income status or participation in Head Start, NSLP, or SNAP.
Read our AT&T Home Internet review.
AT&T Home Internet
Participants in this program will receive download speeds of up to 100 Mbps for $10 per month. This is for families with school-aged children (K-12) who receive government assistance (including NSLP, SNAP, TANF, or public housing). Cox’s offer includes no contract, free installation, free Wi-Fi hotspot access, and free Wi-Fi modem rental. This plan comes with a data cap of 1.25 TB.
Read our Cox Home Internet Review.
Mediacom’s offer shares a name with Cox’s low-income plan, but it’s a different discount program. It offers download speeds of up to 25 Mbps for $10 per month or 100 Mbps for $30 per month. No deposit is required and there are no contracts. Your installation, the rental of your equipment and your Wi-Fi modem are also free. To be a qualifying household, you must have at least one K-12 student and at least one NSLP child.
Read our Mediacom Home Internet review.
For $15 a month, participants will receive download speeds of up to 50 Mbps plus a free router and modem, unlimited data, free setup, and no contracts. You may be eligible if you or a member of your household participates in the NSLP or is a New York City resident attending a New York City public school.
Read our Optimum Home Internet review.
This special program is available to K-12 students who are enrolled in the NSLP. The application process usually goes through school administrators, but parents and guardians can apply on behalf of their child’s school. All eligible students will receive 100 GB per year and a free mobile hotspot for at least five years. There’s also the option to use the cash value ($500 per year) for a larger data plan and pay the rest out of pocket. Given that the average household uses over 400 GB per month, this will likely be the way to go for most families.
Read our T-Mobile Home Internet review.
Through Verizon’s Fios Forward program, customers currently enrolled in the Federal Lifeline program can save $10 per month on any Verizon Fios plan offered at their address.
Additionally, if you participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program, you may be eligible to receive free internet through Fios Forward. It would be a 300 Mbps free plan including all fees and router costs. You must have a Fios Mix & Match plan and be CPA approved to qualify.
Read our Verizon Home Internet review.
Xfinity is offering students a deal to get up to $100 in a Visa prepaid card and receive free self-installation. Further details will depend on your region and verification of your student status. Offer not available to students living in on-campus accommodation.
Read our Xfinity home internet review.
This plan offers download speeds of up to 50 Mbps for $10 per month and no setup fees for NSLP, public housing, SNAP or TANF participants. There’s also an Internet Essentials Plus tier with 100 Mbps for $30 per month. Likewise, it includes free material and does not require any contract or credit check.
Read our look at Xfinity vs. AT&T.
Student Internet Deals & Discounts FAQs
Will AT&T give students a discount on internet service?
AT&T does not have a specific home Internet discount program for students. They have a discount plan called Access from AT&T that caters to households with Head Start or NSLP participants.
This should not be confused with AT&T’s wireless plans, which offer discounts based on school or college eligibility.
Does the government provide free internet?
Not explicitly, but it’s basically possible to get free internet from the government using the Affordable Connectivity Program. This is a government subsidy program set up by the Federal Communications Commission that provides eligible households with a monthly discount on the cost of Internet service.
Once you qualify, you can use ACP — $30 per month for most households, $75 per month for those living on tribal land — with participating ISPs. From there, you may be able to select a plan where the CPA amount will fully cover your monthly costs. So, in a sense, you would have access to the internet for free from the government.
Which internet providers offer broadband plans at $10 per month?
Cox’s Connect2Compete offers 100 Mbps for $10 per month, while Mediacom’s Connect2Compete also costs $10 per month but for 25 Mbps. Astound Broadband offers a 50 Mbps plan for $10 per month with its Internet First program and Xfinity’s Internet Essentials plan is 50 Mbps for $10 per month.