The federal government’s Lifeline Assistance program, created to help low-income Americans afford phone service, has transitioned rapidly from providing just landline telephones until mid-2008 to providing mostly mobile phones now. In fact, our estimates are that eight million people now have a free cell phone thanks to Lifeline.
We’ve been wondering when Lifeline might begin applying to internet service. An argument could be made that web access is even more important for a person to have than a telephone is. And, you can even make phone calls through the internet. We’ve heard talk in congress lately about expanding the program, but we have no official word on the anything concrete.
Interestingly, while searching for information on this topic, we discovered a company by the name of Knology, that is providing free broadband access to people in Kansas who meet the eligibility requirements of the Lifeline program. How could they do that, we wondered, if the feds have not authorized that Lifeline funds be used for internet service? It seems, if we are reading their website correctly, they are not applying for or receiving the usual Lifeline reimbursement from the state. They are doing it as a community service, because Knology “recognizes the growing need for all citizens to have access to high speed internet as educational resources, job postings and information outlets move online.”
They are able to offer the service because in 2007, local agencies reached out to Knology, telling them of the unmet need in their communities for internet connection. Knology stepped up and decided to offer the service subject to the criteria set by Kansas for the Lifeline program.
Knology is trying to encourage other internet providers to follow their lead. They have presented details of their program to national industry-wide associations across the country.
How to Qualify for Free Internet with Kansas’ Knology
The criteria for qualifying for Knology Lifeline High Speed Internet is the same as that of qualifying for Kansas Lifeline Phone Service. You can qualify either by your income or by your current participation in a public assistance program.
To qualify by your low income, you will need to show that you are at or below 150% of the Kansas federal poverty levels. If you are in a single person household the poverty level is $16,245.00, and for a family of two it is $21,855.00. For more family members, simply add $5,610 for each additional member. Multiply the number by 150% to see if your income is equal to or less than that.
You can qualify by program-participation if you are on any of the following programs in Kansas: General Assistance, Medicaid, Free School Lunch Program, Food Distribution program (United Tribes of Kansas and NE Nebraska, Inc.), Head Start (only those meeting its income qualifying standard), Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Head Start, Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance or Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
How to Apply for Knology Lifeline High Speed Internet
To apply, just call Knology at 800-869-1214 or 785-841-2100, or visit Knology online and download, fill out and mail in the application.
They will contact you within 2 weeks to schedule an install if you qualify.